School to expand to take rising number of children

Oxford Mail: Windmill head teacher, Lynn Knapp Windmill head teacher, Lynn Knapp

A PRIMARY school is to undergo a large building project to increase the number of pupils it admits each year from 60 to 90.

The expansion of Windmill Primary School, in Headington, will make it the only primary in Oxford to take three-form entry.

Headteacher Lynn Knapp said she was glad Oxfordshire County Council was keeping its promise to improve the school’s hall, in addition to the other changes.

The proposals – which initially came under fire from parents and residents – will see the number of pupils at the school increase from 480 a year to 630 a year over a five- year period.

Under the £2.6m plans submitted by the county council, the Margaret Road school will have a new two-storey, four- classroom extension on the current staff car park, and a new multi-use games area.

It will also see another building demolished and its cycle store extended.

Mrs Knapp said: “Parents put pressure on the county council for the school hall expansion to go ahead.

“We were made a promise about that and I think the councillors felt this promise had to be met.”

The school hall extension will help it cope with the increased number of pupils who will be entitled to free school meals in the long term when Government policy comes into force in September.

Mrs Knapp added: “When the change comes in it will be a struggle, but we will just have to manage.

“We will need to use classroom provision and look at the hours we serve lunch to be able to provide for all the pupils.

“But the extension will allow us to cater in the long term. The hall will also allow us to get the whole school together so I am delighted we have got that.”

Work will start at the end of next month, with the scheme aiming to be completed by the start of the September 2015 school year.

The council's cabinet member for schools, Melinda Tilley, said this was one of many projects planned to help ease pressure on school places.

A further 1,500 places need to be created over the next four years.

Wolvercote Primary School is also looking at expansion and a new primary school is already on the way at St Gregory the Great, in Cricket Road, Cowley.

Mrs Tilley added: “We agreed funding for the school hall in the end. We are lucky to have such a good school to expand.

“It is in a key area where demand for places is high.

“Lynn has been really supportive and that has helped.

“I am hoping all those who were concerned about the expansion are coming round to the plans. The pressure on school places is huge.

“We are working on the primary school problem and starting to think about secondary schools in the future.”

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