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The 'flat pack' school helping to ease the shortage of places in Croydon

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THOUGH hundreds of pupils were unable to start the new term this week due to building delays, one project which has gone to plan is the expansion of Whitehorse Manor junior and infant schools.

The schools are part of the Pegasus Academy Trust, which was asked by the council to open an annex in nearby Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath.

The new building, on the site of a former old people's home, opened to its first intake of 90 children on Wednesday following a nine-month process, which involved much of the structure being built in Northern Ireland before being brought to Croydon.

"You could call it a flat pack school," said Pegasus head teacher Jolyon Roberts. "Doing it this way costs roughly the same as building on site but dramatically reduces the time it takes to get everything done."

The expansion, which brings the sites run by Pegasus to five, is in response the high demand for school places in Thornton Heath.

"The number of school age pupils here has gone through the roof," said Mr Roberts. "At Whitehorse Manor we had 600 applications for 90 places."

The Brigstock annex will open with a new reception class alongside classes in both Year 1 and Year 2 who, up until this point, had been taught at Ecclesbourne Primary School, which is also part of Pegasus. Pupils will share fields with other schools in the group.

"The new way of doing things is that you are given a catalogue of schools to look through," explained Mr Roberts .

"The model we chose is called a 'Dewey', in the same way that a car is called a Ford Focus. You choose it and the contractor makes it fit the site.

"I think the space is great. The hall is particularly large. The colour schemes are very invigorating for the children. There are good classroom sizes, plenty of natural light. It's got all the things you want."

The annex has been funded through money awarded to the council by the government - as opposed to free schools and academies which are overseen by the centrally-run Education Funding Agency (EFA).

Mr Roberts said the local authority deserved praise for how the process had been managed.

"Credit where credit is due, the council seems to be delivering what's needed," he said.

"Don't forget, Croydon is an almost unprecedented situation, almost nationally, in that the number of school age children has rocketed in recent years.

"Almost every primary school, to my knowledge, has either taken a bulge class or has been expanded, and there's still terrific demand in the north of the borough.

"In that light, I think schools should try to expand if they have the capacity. We're fortunate that our pupils will be in the same sort of classrooms and broadly have access to the same facilities."

The 'flat pack' school helping to ease the shortage of places in Croydon


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