Expansion plans for primary school are welcomed by parents

PLANS to move a primary school and expand it to meet a growing demand in Whiteley have been welcomed by parents.

Wednesday, 2nd March 2016, 5:55 am
From left, headteacher Tim Clarke, architect Tim Burgess and chairman of governors The Rev Sandy Matheson Picture: Ian Hargreaves (160045-2)

An exhibition of the plans was held at Cornerstone CofE Primary School, in Bleriot Crescent, Whiteley, where people were asked for their views.

Headteacher Tim Clarke said he was excited and optimistic about the expansion, which will see the school move from its temporary buildings in Bleriot Crescent, to permanent buildings as part of the North Whiteley development.

The school would grow from 210 places to 630 places – the same size as Whiteley Primary School.

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Mr Clarke said: ‘We have some really exciting designs. All the decisions we will be making are for the children.’

He said the school was in a unique position to design a new building around existing pupils.

The school originally opened in 2013 with just 25 pupils in two classes, after a long campaign by parents as the existing three-form entry primary in Whiteley was oversubscribed.

However last year Cornerstone had about 180 pupils and in 2020, it predicts it will have 630 pupils.

Mr Clarke said: ‘We are going from 25 to 630 in seven years. It’s really exciting and challenging. But it’s about trying to bring everyone with us. Some are excited, some are naturally cautious.’

Hampshire County Council’s architect Tim Burgess has been working on the new school, which will be built as part of the 3,500-home north Whiteley extension, which won approval last year.

It will have 21 classrooms, with two halls, plus more.

Parents welcomed the move, and said they were pleased to see work starting.

Jon Howell, 34, from Whiteley, has two children at the school, both of which will move into the new building.

He said: ‘Instead of a two-mile car journey we will have a five-minute walk which will take a car off the already very busy roads and promote keeping the kids healthy.

‘With the development of the new bigger school, we have the opportunity to have a community that we want.

‘To start off small and grow together will be great for the children and parents.’

Another parent, Charlotte Charman, 27, also has two children at the school. She said she was also looking forward to walking to the new school.

She added: ‘A new school in a new building should be good, starting afresh.’

The plans will be submitted in April, and go to the planning committee in July for a decision.

If approved, building work will start in 2017 and be completed by Easter 2018, with the school starting in the new building in September 2018.