Channel: Croydon Advertiser Latest Stories Feed
Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 5354

'New schools in Croydon will open in temporary buildings for years to come'


NEW schools in Croydon will open in temporary buildings for years to come, says the head of governors at one of the borough's newest academies.

Paxton Academy Sports & Science is one of two schools which will start life in September without permanent accommodation. It was supposed to be located on piece of wasteland next to Lidl in London Road, Thornton Heath, but will instead be housed in sheds on a rugby club's playing field for at least a year while the land is purchased and the new school is built.

Charlotte Davies, chairman of governors, told the Advertiser new schools without permanent buildings will be commonplace if the borough is to meet unprecedented demand for places. Projections suggest Croydon could need up to 52 additional forms of entry by summer 2017, the equivalent of an extra 1,560 pupils each year.

Ms Davies said: "This is going to be a problem for a number of years in Croydon; there's going to be a huge number of temporary buildings all over the place.

"Providers won't be able to build quickly enough to meet demand so, when a new school opens, pupils are likely to be in temporary buildings for 18 months while you get the building up. It's going to be an issue across Croydon, particularly the north of the borough. The big risk is children ending up in tower blocks, which we have robustly tried not to happen with Paxton."

The school will be based at Streatham-Croydon Rugby Club, in nearby Brigstock Road, while a permanent building is constructed. The arrangement, however unorthodox, has advantages for a sports-based academy, said Ms Davies.

"The club has kindly agreed to host our temporary huts while we wait for the permanent site.

"They are developing the main clubhouse and they have let us have some space at the back for sheds. They are high quality sheds fitted out as primary school classrooms.

"If we had opened on the permanent site it would have been with quite a small play space. We now have probably the biggest playground of any primary school in Croydon."

Harris Invictus Academy, a new school located on the disused former general hospital site in London Road, will take its first 180 pupils in September. Last week the Advertiser revealed it will open in entirely temporary buildings. The Harris Federation played down the issue, pointing out that Harris Academy Purley received a glowing Ofsted while being taught in similar interim classrooms.

Ms Davies believes the choice is between doing the best with the space available or asking existing schools to take even more bulge classes, with nine more already put in place for September.

"Croydon cannot take any more bulge classes," she said. "We cannot possibly put any more temporary classrooms on our playgrounds. Our solution is not ideal, but what would you want if it was your child? I think you would want us to be in temporary buildings on a rugby club site instead of temporary buildings on a school playground which is reducing play space."

Maria Gatland, Conservative shadow education chief, says the priority has to be creating more places.

"Ideally you would like to see [permanent buildings] in place, but given the difficulty in finding sites and the sheer volume of places needed in Croydon, I think temporary buildings are acceptable," she said.

"This is the reality now. We have to be imaginative about how we use space. If I was a parent I might be concerned, but I would prefer my child to have a place in a school than not."

Alisa Flemming, Labour's new head of education, rejected the suggestion that schools opening before being built will become the norm.

"The preference would always be for children to go into schools that are ready and, moving forward and I hope that is what happens," she said.

"I accept it's not always going to be possible, but I don't agree that this is just the way it's going be now. We need to give children in Croydon the best. It's easier for them to adjust if they are placed on the actual site which they are going to be at long term.

"But, having a place comes first. If the building's not up to scratch, well, needs must."

When work does start on Paxton's permanent home, which could be finished by 2016, the free school intends the building to be as tall as possible in order to maximise play space on the site.

It is likely to have a playground on the roof similar to options being considered for the new primary school at Segas House, a listed building in the town centre.

So, while classrooms in sheds are the current concern, the issue looming on the horizon is whether Croydon's children should be taught in converted offices.

'New schools in Croydon will open in temporary buildings for years to come'

Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 5354

Latest Images

Trending Articles

Latest Images