ONE in every 15 children in the county has been taught in a temporary classroom in the last year.
And teachers are warning the use of them could be affecting children’s learning as they can be “damp, leaky and cramped” and pupils feel “cut off” from their classmates.
Figures released by Oxfordshire County Council show 5,475 county youngsters are having lessons in temporary buildings – 205 in Oxford – an increase from last year when there were 5,129 across the county.
The highest recorded was 5,815 pupils in temporary classrooms in 2010.
There are 84,741 children at state-maintained primary, secondary and special schools across Oxfordshire, which means 6.4 per cent are taught in non-permanent classrooms – or every one in 15 children.
The county is trying to cope with a huge rise in demand for primary school places, with a 14 per cent increase expected over the next four years.
At Larkrise Primary School, two classes are taught in temporary rooms, as pictured, but building work on extending classrooms is due to start after the school breaks up for summer tomorrow.
Steph Capon has been teaching a Year 5 class at Larkrise in a temporary room for the last academic year. She said: “It prohibits children learning effectively. It’s damp, doesn’t smell particularly nice, frequently leaks, and cramped.
“The temperature is very hard to regulate and it is often too hot in summer and too cold in winter.
“I was really sick and had lots of chest problems this winter and the children in my class had lots of illnesses. I am sure it is because of the conditions in the room – it is like an incubator for bugs and it cannot be properly aired.”
Her colleague Fiona Clark has been based in the temporary classrooms for four years.
Mrs Clark said: “Both staff and children feel very cut off from the rest of the school in these buildings. We are not part of the school community.
“We have temporarily moved out of them into the main school again and the children just suddenly feel so much more a part of the school.”
Temporary rooms are usually brought in as part of school expansion projects, or to address a need for extra school places.
The county council said the number of pupils having to use these rooms will be reduced in the long-term as building work is completed.
But with a number of housing developments planned across the county there will be a forecasted 95,748 pupils across primary and secondary come 2018 – an extra 11,000 children.
New schools are planned as part of the developments and some schools are being expanded, such as Windmill Primary School which is going to increase its intake from 60 to 90 pupils a year.
County council spokesman Owen Morton said: “The current figure is largely a reflection of our ongoing efforts to increase capacity at schools to ensure sufficient places in future.”
Didcot schools have the highest number of pupils being taught in temporary classrooms, with 765 children at both primary and secondary level.
Didcot Girls’ School teaches 315 pupils in temporary rooms.
Headteacher Rachael Warwick said: “We do have some temporary classrooms on site, but we only use one or two of them for classrooms.
“The majority of the temporary buildings are used as additional office spaces, storage spaces or additional work spaces for our art students.
“It is expensive to have temporary classrooms removed from the site and it is useful to use the additional space for the purposes already mentioned, but, happily, we do not need to use them as classrooms.”
In Thame, all but one school in the town is having to teach pupils in temporary rooms, with a total of 520 pupils in those classrooms.
King Alfred’s Academy in Wantage has more than 260 children taught in those rooms.
County council cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley said: “It was expected.
“We have had to expand a lot of schools because we have had massive migration into the county. We did think we would have to put children into temporary accommodation until the schools can be expanded.
“I don’t think children care. As long as they are well looked-after, well-fed and well-taught, I don’t think they really care where they are.
“We put adult heads on children’s shoulders. When I was a child I was taught in a church hall and it never occurred to me it was a church hall until years’ later.
“As long as it is warm in the winter and cool in the summer I don’t have a problem with it. And it is temporary.”
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