Primary gears up for 50 per cent more pupils in new teaching block
A PRIMARY school in Stapleton is set to expand to cater for a 50 per cent rise in pupil numbers.
Plans to build a new teaching block at Begbrook Primary Academy have been submitted to Bristol City Council.
The expansion from a two-form of entry school to a three-form one has been proposed to meet the growing demand for primary places in the city, as Bristol's population of young children rises sharply.
Under the plans, an existing reception wing will be extended and the grounds around the school will be landscaped. The city council hopes to use an area of open land adjoining the school to allow the development to take place.
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If the application is given the go-ahead, it is anticipated the number of pupils attending the school in Begbrook Drive will grow gradually from 420 to 630 over a seven-year period.
The process began in September 2011, when the school's reception class intake rose from 60 pupils to 90 pupils, and would continue until 2017.
However, residents have raised concerns about the expansion at consultation meetings organised in 2011 and last year.
Some are worried about the development creating further parking problems when children are dropped off and collected by car.
In a document submitted as part of the application, one opponent of the plans told a consultation meeting in November: "The whole estate becomes one giant car park at the beginning and end of the school day.
"Across Bristol about 32 per cent of children are driven to school and in Begbrook 70 per cent of children are driven to school because of its situation on the edge of the city."
To tackle parking and traffic problems, the academy will launch an initiative next week aimed at encouraging parents to park in a car park in Frenchay Park Road near to the school and walk the remainder of the distance to the school gates.
The scheme has been devised by a small group of parents with children at the school and has been supported by Sustrans and the Begbrook and Stapleton Social Club, which has offered its car park for parents to use free of charge.
The council announced in September that it faces spending £250 million over the coming years on new schools and extensions to ensure there are enough places available to cater for the city's rapidly growing population of children. If no action was taken, 530 reception pupils would be left without a school to attend in September 2014.
The city council is due to make a decision on the plans, which would be put into place by school construction specialists Skanska, by March 11.