Parents concerned about ‘overcrowding’ at expanded Sheffield schools, Nick Clegg warns

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is arguing there should be no preconditions.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is arguing there should be no preconditions.

Parents at two Sheffield primary schools are concerned allowing an extra 30 pupils per year will lead to ‘over-crowding’, Nick Clegg has warned.

Sheffield Council is consulting on plans to permanently expand Dobcroft Infant School and Dobcroft Junior School from 90 places to 120 places per year.

It has already been decided an extra 30 pupils will join the infant school from September this year.

Mr Clegg, who represents Sheffield Hallam MP, said: “Parents clearly want a solution that enables children to attend a local school and not have to go through the stressful process of finding they cannot get a place at their catchment school and instead being allocated a school some distance away.

“However, many parents at Dobcroft have expressed concern about the proposal to expand Dobcroft Infant and Junior Schools to 120 places per year.

“They feel that this will cause overcrowding issues – and this is an understandable fear given that residents are being asked to comment on the proposals without detailed plans for how this might work on the school site.”

Mr Clegg said building a new primary school in Sheffield ‘could be’ justified after concerns were raised about a lack of places in the area.

In his response to Sheffield Council’s consultation, he said: “The need for more primary school places in the south-west of Sheffield is a hugely important issue – it is incredibly disappointing for any child to be denied access to their catchment school.

“It is also clear from the council’s statistics that these pressures are going to continue for the foreseeable future, with a rise in the number of births in Sheffield.

“This is a consistent problem year on year and I find it concerning that the issue always appears to sneak up on authorities.”

He said he also wanted to seek reassurances from Sheffield Council that the increased intake at the infant school from September will only be a one-off change.

Mr Clegg said: “I appreciate that you state ‘this is a one-off change and does not commit the council or school to going ahead with the permanent increase from 2016...’, however I would seek some strong reassurances that this is the case should your current proposals be rejected.”

A Sheffield Council statement said: “Demand for primary school places is growing nationally following the rise in birth rate since 2002. Sheffield’s population has followed this national trend and we have already undertaken a number of projects to expand schools.

“Nearly 4,500 primary places have been added to schools over the last few years. Planning for places for 2016/2017 onwards is in progress.”