Oversubscribed Clare school needs temporary classrooms

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A heavily oversubscribed school has applied to put in temporary classrooms - only four years after opening.

Stour Valley Community School in Clare opened in September 2011.

It was the first ‘free school’ in the country, an independently-run, state-funded school set up by the Stour Valley Educational Trust community group.

Such has been the popularity and success of the school that it has recently applied to St Edmundsbury Borough Council to put up temporary classrooms in the playground which would see the already oversubscribed school’s capacity increase from 543 to 600 pupils.

Headteacher Christine Inchley said: “When the school opened we had a total of 172 students across three year groups, with an annual published admission number (PAN) of 108.

“Consequently we were well under-subscribed and had all of the space we needed and more.

“Because of very strong interest from parents, we increased the PAN to 115 two years ago.

“That year we had 258 applications which named Stour Valley, and had to spend a lot of time hearing appeals from disappointed parents who had failed to gain a place for their children at the school.

“This year the figure, once again, was over 200. Now that we have five year groups in school, and face the prospect of over 570 students on roll from next September, we just don’t have enough teaching space in school. These classrooms are large and airy and well designed for educational purposes. They bear no resemblance to the ‘Portakabins’ of old which many of us used when we were at school.”

She added that the school’s Ofsted inspection report in 2013 rated the school as ‘good’ with two out of four key categories listed as ‘outstanding’, which attracted even more families.