Page last updated at 14:57 GMT, Saturday, 21 November 2009

Baby boom puts burden on schools

generic school children
The recession has meant fewer parents opting for private schools

Ten schools in a Dorset town may have to accept up to 30 extra pupils each to ease pressure on school places blamed on a baby boom and the recession.

Bournemouth Borough Council said a record increase in the birth rate meant it must find eight extra reception classes for 2011.

The council is also considering a new school to cope with the increase.

Bournemouth has had a record number of births in the last three years, with 2008 the highest in 30 years.

About 2,100 babies were born in the town in 2008 compared with 1,600 in 2005.

The council said other factors affecting pupil numbers include migration and the recession, which has meant that fewer parents opting for private education.

It anticipated that a further six classes would be needed in 2012 to cope with the rise in numbers.

'UK faces issue'

Under the plans Elmrise Primary and Heathlands Primary would each accommodate 30 extra pupils in their existing buildings.

Kingsleigh Primary, Stourfield Infants, Muscliff Primary, Winton Primary and St Katherine's Church of England Primary would get temporary accommodation to house 30 pupils each.

Three further schools, St Mark's CE Primary, Corpus Christi Catholic Primary and St Michael's CE Primary would also take on 30 children - the latter is being improved under a government-funded programme.

A number of school sites are very restricted and are not capable of expansion at all, even if the demand in the area merits it
Neil Goddard, service director for children's strategic services

Neil Goddard, service director for children's strategic services, said: "This is an issue facing not only us, but the UK as a whole, and urban areas in particular.

"Pupil numbers are increasing across Bournemouth with particular pressure on the centre and south-east of the borough."

"We have looked at sites which can accommodate more pupils in existing buildings and sites which can be expanded both temporarily and permanently.

"A number of school sites are very restricted and are not capable of expansion at all, even if the demand in the area merits it."

The council is also considering creating a new primary school, possibly by expanding an existing secondary school.

An eight-week public consultation on the proposals is being held. Residents have until February to have their say.



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