Portsmouth schools given green light to expand after multi-million pound government grant

Admiral Lord Nelson School in Copnor
Admiral Lord Nelson School in Copnor
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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SCHOOLS in the city will be able to offer more places after a multi-million pound cash boost.

Portsmouth schools are set to benefit from a £15m windfall from the government which will go towards the council’s plan to expand some of the city’s schools.

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon -Jackson said: ‘We have a programme to expand secondary schools in the city to offer more places.

‘The council has been working for many years on this and the first area we worked on was primary schools.’

It comes as new figures show that 100 per cent of primary school places created in Portsmouth in 2016/17 were in good or outstanding schools.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson continued: ‘Now those children are coming up to secondary school and we need another 900 places.’

The schools involved in the council’s plan include Ark Charter Academy in Southsea, Trafalgar School in Hilsea and Admiral Lord Nelson School in Copnor.

He added: ‘The plan should be going ahead in the next couple of years so everyone can go to secondary school in the city.’

Cabinet member for education Councillor Suzy Horton said: ‘This is a really positive thing and it is something that needs to be done.

‘It is not just about creating spaces but the quality of those spaces as well.’

The investment was announced by children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi yesterday.

The MP said: ‘All parents want to send their child to a good local school, one that meets their individual needs and supports them to achieve their full potential, regardless of the challenges they may face.’

An extra £179,000 has also been awarded to improve facilities and build more school places for children with special educational needs (SEN). But Cllr Vernon-Jackson says this is not enough.

‘We have big issues with special educational need school places.

‘The Mary Rose Academy has places for 100 kids but we have an extra 188 children in the city so we need to build another two schools to accommodate everyone’, he said.

The newly-elected Lib Dem leader believes two new schools specialising in those with severe learning difficulties would cost £30m.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘We will be going back to the government about it because the number of children with SEN is growing very fast.’