Portsmouth schools could get £8.5m in bid to create new places and improve learning

SCHOOLS in Portsmouth look set to benefit from an additional £8.5m of investment.

Monday, 28th January 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 11th November 2019, 11:14 am
Mike Stoneman - deputy director for children families and education.

The funding is to be used to expand several secondary schools to provide extra space and facilities for a projected increase of 380 school places.

Portsmouth City Council's deputy director of children’s services Mike Stoneman said: ‘I am really excited about this development.

‘It is not just about providing additional places but about creating high quality learning environments for students.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Admiral Lord Nelson School has been identified as one of the schools for possible expansion.

‘We will be working closely with schools to identify their needs which could include the provision of new school halls, catering facilities, recreational space and IT facilities.’

Admiral Lord Nelson and Trafalgar schools have been initially identified for expansion.

‘These two schools have been identified based on a need for places, central location and potential for development. However, we are also talking to other schools about potential investment,’ explained Mr Stoneman.

The money will come from Portsmouth City Council’s capital budget, with £6.9m allocated to expansion work and £929,000 to the design process.

St Edmund’s Catholic School is also set to benefit with £690,000 for the school’s own expansion project to cater for an additional 80 pupils.

The proposed expansion plan is due to be implemented by 2023 to cater for the ‘population bulge’ which is filtering through from primary schools.

A portion of the money has also been set aside to run a feasibility study to expand education provision for children with special educational needs (SEN). The study will assess whether to increase SEN provision in mainstream or expand special schools.

The proposal now needs to be ratified at the full council meeting on February 12.

Cabinet member for education, councillor Suzy Horton, said: ‘I think there will be widespread support for this proposal as when it comes to education people tend to pull together.’

The proposed new funding comes as work is due to start on an already approved £10.2m plan to create a further 1,000 places at secondary schools across the city.

The developments are due to be complete by 2021 and involve Charter Academy, Portsmouth Academy and Trafalgar and Admiral Lord Nelson schools.

Executive headteacher at Trafalgar and Admiral Lord Nelson schools Steve Labedz is excited by the expansion.

‘We have a great number of students coming through the system who need to be catered for and the expansion of our schools will give parents the choice not to have to move out of the city for education,’ said Mr Labedz.

‘At Admiral Lord Nelson we received £4.5m from the initial allocation which we are using to provide a block of 10 new classrooms, a reception and meeting area and also to refurbish our existing science and design work spaces.

‘We have already used £130,000 at Trafalgar School to make the site more accessible and increase our intake of students who have physical disabilities.’

Mr Labedz is hopeful that by the time the expansion work is complete the school will have increased its capacity from 1,000 to 1,250 pupils.

On the further additional investment, Mr Labedz said: ‘We are still in the very early stages of discussion and need to assess what will be in the best interests of our students.’