Merton secondary schools expansion could see 300 pupils per year group
Secondary schools could have to expand to provide up to 300 pupils in every year group if they are to keep up with rising demand, a council report has warned.
The report, presented to the children and young person’s scrutiny panel on Tuesday, September 17, lays out the council’s plan to tackle increased demand for secondary school places warning the system will be under "significant pressure" by 2015 through to 2018.
It outlines plans to expand all eight of Merton’s existing secondary schools from 55 forms of entry up to 80 creating an extra 750 more school places.
Each school’s intake would at first increase to eight forms of entry - 240 pupils per year group - which could rise to a maximum of 10 forms if deemed necessary.
The building of a new school will also be considered to ease the "exceptional increase" in demand for year seven places from September 2018 when around 270 new places will be required.
Councillor Martin Whelton, cabinet member for education, said: "I think it’s important to plan in advance as we did with primary schools.
"We have seen 21 forms introduced in the last six years.
"We are taking a three pronged approach by first filling surplus spaces, then bringing in plans to expand existing secondary schools in full consultation with those schools.
"From 2018 we do know that there will be additional need for secondary school places in the borough.
"Current forecasts show that there will be a potential rise by more than 250 places that year alone and that follows on from a huge increase in 2011.
"By the end of this year we hope to reveal further plans for this.
"We are undertaking detailed work at the moment in terms of potential new sites.
"We recognise that it’s important to plan ahead."
Capital funds of £40m have already been put aside by the council to provide further provision for secondary school places from 2018.
The council has already spent £80m on expanding primary schools in Merton to provide a further 4,410 permanent places.
Councillor James Holmes, conservative vice chairman of the children and young people overview and scrutiny panel, said: "We believe a new secondary school will be necessary.
"What we are keen to investigate is the different ways in which something like that might be funded.
"I think there’s an argument for looking at our assets.
"We own about half a billion pounds worth of property and we should look to see how that can be utilised and leveraged to help build a secondary school.
"We could be looking for exciting business or cultural attractions whatever it might be to come into the borough and use our existing premises or land, because they could be new builds, and generate significant revenue in order to service with debt of a secondary school programme."
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