Tyne & Wear

Newcastle school places shortage to last two more years

View over the shoulder of a pupil doing maths Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Newcastle's school-age population is growing

A shortage of secondary school places will continue for the next two years, Newcastle education bosses have warned.

Some schools in the city are taking in more pupils and others plan extensions to accommodate growing numbers of children.

Delays to new schools, particularly on the Newcastle Great Park estate, were to blame, Newcastle City Council said.

It could not confirm how many extra places it needed or which schools would be affected.

A spokesperson said the council was "currently reviewing how we meet the demand".

"Following delays to the new schools being built at Newcastle Great Park, we are currently working with a number of secondary and middle schools to provide 'bulge classes'," they said.

"This is a short-term solution to meet the demand in September 2020 and 2021."

Wildlife campaigners lost a High Court bid for a judicial review into the next phase of the Great Park development, renewing council hopes of the schools opening in September 2022.

The new Callerton Academy, on the site of the current Simonside Primary School in Newbiggin Hall, is also due to open in 2022.

An extra building is being built at Gosforth Academy to temporarily increase capacity, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

However, assistant education director Mark Patton warned the council had to be careful not to build extensions which would be "mothballed" once demand reduced.

Liberal Democrat opposition leader Nick Cott said putting more children in existing schools was "fine" as long as it did not reduce the standard of education.

"But I would be concerned if the council is starting to use existing schools simply because the planning process and logistics of getting new schools in place is making things difficult," he said.

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