Tracey Fowler, Reporter
Thursday, June 28, 2012
PARENTS living in the marina area of Portishead have formed an action group to campaign for more school places to be created in areas they are most needed.
People living on new housing developments say plans to expand two schools almost two miles away from their homes are off the mark.
North Somerset Council is in talks about expanding High Down Infant and Junior schools, to make them both 420-place primary schools, in a bid to solve the town’s shortage of places.
Village Quarter resident, Dave Griffiths, says he and many other parents want to know why the council plans to extend these schools when it is clear spaces are needed in the marina area.
Mr Griffiths, whose four-year-old son could not get a school place in Portishead for September and instead has been offered a place in Pill, said: “Parents of existing High Down pupils, and residents, say the expansion is not wanted and parents on the new estates need more school places near their homes, so why not use some of the disused office buildings for a school?”
The new action group will collectively fight for more easily accessible school places.
Mr Griffiths added: “The group is only in its infancy but with 24 children living in The Village Quarter who did not get a school place at Trinity, the Village Quarter school, in September, there are a lot of angry parents.”
A North Somerset Council spokesman explained the authority has created 735 primary school places in Portishead between 2003-2011.
They said: “In September, 30 extra spaces were made available at both St Peter’s and Portishead Primary schools. To further address the need we have been looking at options for the expansion of other schools or sites.
“Other sites have not been deemed suitable due to reasons including Catholic status restraints, site space and planning issues.
“High Down school is being considered for expansion as it has been deemed the most suitable site in the Portishead area. This proposal is currently subject to consultation.
“We are continuing to work with schools and families in Portishead to meet the demand as best we can.”
Public meetings to discuss the plans for High Down schools in Down Road will take place in the infant school hall on July 16 at 6.30pm and in the junior school hall on July 17 at 9.15am.
* A consultation to produce pupil forecasting statistics, to help with the future strategic planning of school places in North Somerset, is also currently in progress.
The consultation allows people to give their opinions, including their relevant knowledge of the local area. More information and online questionnaires can be found by visiting http://consult.n-somerset.gov.uk/consult.ti/pupilproj/consultationHome