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Plans discussed to increase Central Primary School intake
The impact of proposals, which call for a central Watford school to double its intake to help absorb a shortfall of primary places, were discussed at a meeting on Monday (March 11).
In Watford, there will be a deficit of 36 places for five to eleven-year-olds this September, which will rise to 83 by next year, and 163 in 2015.
Central Primary School in Derby Road is being asked to take on an extra form of entry, or 30 new pupils a year.
Justin Donovan, director of education for the county council, said: "More and more children are coming from flats which hitherto wouldn’t have produced children. Changes in London also mean people are moving north to Watford and Stevenage."
Mr Donovan also suggested that from April 2015, schools with two forms of entry will have more money to spend than those with one, under new Government arrangements.
The expansion of Central Primary School would require new classrooms to be built within existing buildings, and in the Newton Price Centre, a building on the school’s site which is used by community groups.
Rachel Greenlees, county council school planner, said: "In Watford we’re experiencing some of the highest demand for school places. We’re responding to a huge rise in the need for primary places."
Schools across the county are being asked to take on extra pupils in order to make up the shortfall, and more than 20 schools have been temporarily expanded.
John Mynott, head teacher of Central Primary School, said: "I know it seems like we don’t have much space, but compared to some London schools we have acres of space, and how we use it is important.
"We want the school to be part of the community, at no point do we want to lose what we have with the Newton Price Centre.
"The rooms are designed to be dual purpose and the main school buildings will also be available for hire."
Residents attending the meeting, held at 7pm on Monday at Central Primary School, raised concerns about the traffic and parking problems caused by all the new pupils.
Mr Mynott added: "These school places are for local children, within walking distance of the school.
"Other ideas for easing parking include ‘park and walk’ and ‘walking bus’ schemes, or making Stanley Road a no drop zone.
"If you live within a certain postcode there will be an agreement that you are expected to walk or cycle to school."
County Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst said: "Many residents are concerned how this will affect the well run, well used and popular community used Newton Price Centre.
"I know the school, like residents, is keen to ensure that community use at the Newton Price building will remain and whilst this will not be possible during the day I am sure the range of evenings uses can be maintained."