School expansion plan in the spotlight

Funding approval would create new places at village primary.

FUNDING for two new classrooms at a Braunton primary school is expected to be approved by Devon County Council next week.

Members are meeting on Wednesday to agree a �7million boost to provide extra school places for children across Devon.

The �700,000 earmarked for Braunton would enable Southmead Primary to complete the first phase of an expansion project to allow the school to accommodate 420 pupils.

Forecasts indicate that another 10 reception places will be needed in Braunton next September.

Devon’s head of planning, Dave Black, is expected to tell councillors: “These are high priority projects that need to commence in 2012-13 to ensure there are sufficient primary pupil places in September 2013.”

Mr Black said the projects had been drawn up following consultation with local learning communities and a series of information sessions.

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Devon’s Cabinet member for education, Andrea Davis, said: “There has been a big rise in births in Devon and more people moving to the county with children. This has put pressure on school places.

“The county council has moved swiftly to ensure there are sufficient places for all these primary school children and that there will continue to be space as their numbers continue to grow.

“We have worked closely with our schools on these issues and I am very grateful to the heads and governors for their cooperation and support.

“We are making sure that the extra places are provided in good quality accommodation so that our children can thrive and learn to the utmost of their ability.”

Southmead head, Gill Gillett, said: “We have a really creative, expansive curriculum and we have got the grounds to expand into without that creativity being affected.

“The quality of all the schools in Braunton is good and we support each other and work together. These are exciting times for Braunton.”

Devon’s deputy leader John Clatworthy, who is responsible for county council property, said: “This is obviously still a time of serious spending restraint but I am pleased this will deliver another significant economic boost for these communities.

“Not only will people in the building trade be employed on these projects but there are also the wholesalers and suppliers of all the materials we need.

“Every pound that is injected into our local economy has a knock on effect for many more businesses.”

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