Norfolk

Norwich primary schools 'shortfall' of up to 380 places

Primary schools in Norwich are set to be oversubscribed by up to 380 places for the next academic year, it has emerged.

Norfolk County Council said classes would have to be re-organised to cope with the extra pupils.

The authority set aside £1.3m in its budget to "address issues of growth" and has received £2.7m from the government.

The council said it was "confident" of finding places for each child.

Alison Cunningham, school advisor to Norfolk County Council, said: "This isn't something that's come totally out of the blue.

"We were aware last year of numbers increasing and in three schools we put in additional places. This year, we're aware that shortfall has escalated in-line with the national picture."

The last schools' census published in June showed class sizes were rising throughout England and indicated greater competition for places at primary schools.

'Lured from city'

Ms Cunningham said the main reason why the number of new starters in the city had outnumbered school places was down to a fall in house movers.

"Traditionally young couples would have their first child and then move out of the centre of Norwich on to the periphery estates around the edge of the city," she said.

"That movement is just not happening and therefore there is a build-up of pressure on places in the centre of Norwich."

She rejected a suggestion that the oversubscription was down to more parents sending their children to comprehensive schools rather than independents.

Despite the squeeze on places, the council is not planning to build more city centre schools, Ms Cunningham said.

"We are very confident we can deal with this," she said.

"We're not talking about building new schools in the city at the moment - we're looking at ways in which we can use more efficiently the accommodation that we already have.

"In the longer term, as developments are expanded on the edges of the city, there will be a move for people to be lured out of the city into the newer developments.

"What we don't want to do is find ourselves then with extra places in the city which are not needed."

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