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Town needs new schools, says report

By Mark Andrews | Telford | Education | Published:

Telford & Wrekin has been identified as one of 10 authorities in desperate need of new schools.

A study by the New Schools Network, which provides support for the creation of new free schools, identified the authority as one of 10 in the country in the greatest need of more school places.

The study said an extra 1,157 secondary school places would be needed in the borough by 2024.

It said 21.8 per cent of pupils did not get into their first choice school.

The research also said that 44 per cent of pupils in the borough who had been identified as 'disadvantaged' were in schools deemed as underperforming by Ofsted.

The research combined the need for both places and school standards to identify the ten areas most in need of new secondary schools over the coming years.

It also looked at the population 'bulge' which is affecting primary schools at the moment, but which will transfer to secondary schools as the pupils get older.

Luke Tryl, director of the New Schools Network, said: “We know there is a desperate need for a new school in Telford and Wrekin, where too many students face a mix of poor standards and insufficient places.

"The situation is most critical for disadvantaged pupils, the very pupils most in need of an excellent education, yet who are too often being denied it.

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“Getting access to a good education shouldn’t be a postcode lottery. Yet our analysis finds that children leaving primary school here risk either ending up in cramped classrooms, or in schools that simply aren’t good enough."

But Councillor Shirley Reynolds, cabinet member for education at Telford and Wrekin Council, said the authority had made significant investment in secondary school places over the last nine years.

This included more than £200 million through the Building Schools for the Future programme, she said, ensuring that every secondary school in the borough was either refurbished or rebuilt.

“In March the council also announced that over the next three years it will invest a further £31 million in the borough’s schools and academies to meet growing demand for places due to the borough’s growth and increasing population," she added.

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"The council together with academies has been planning this for the last two years.

"This new investment will be in secondary, primary and special schools."

Councillor Reynolds said in September this year there would be an extra 173 secondary school places available, including grammar, selective and community schools.

“Burton Borough School in Newport will see the completion of a new hall and additional class bases this year and a number of other secondary schools will also see major expansion over the next couple of years and plans for this investment are underway," she said.

Councillor Reynolds said results in many secondary schools were improving, with Telford Langley School recently rated as 'good'.

"Abraham Darby and Madeley Academies, which are in some of the borough’s most disadvantaged areas, are judged good by Ofsted," she said.

“The number of children securing their first choice of school is also on the up, rising four per cent this year, reflecting the breadth of school provision here.”

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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