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Proposals revealed to expand primary school with 105 places as Wrexham wins ‘more than fair share’ of Welsh Government funding

Proposals to increase the capacity at a local primary school to accommodate more than 100 additional pupils are to be debated next week.

Executive board members will be asked to support the launch of a public consultation over the plans for Barker’s Lane CP school in Borras.

Currently capacity levels at the school is for 210 pupils. However in next week’s report it is explained that for the current school admission round 2018-19, the council’s education department “was unable to meet the local demand for the town centre, refusing pupils for whom Barker’s Lane CP was their preferred school.”

As a result of the increased demand and what Wrexham Council describe as an opportunity to utilised the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools funding, it has been proposed that a public consultation is launched over increasing the capacity at Barker’s Lane to 315, and increase of 105.

Subject to the approval and outcomes of the public consultation, such changes would be introduced in September 2020 for nursery and reception years.

The school would then continue to offer the 45 entry each subsequent year to nursery and reception pupils only. There would be no immediate availability to transfer into any of the higher year groups unless a space became available within the current 30 pupil planned admission number.

It is hoped that these proposals will not only reduce infant class sizes at Barker’s Lane CP, but also alleviate the “current pressure on a number of town centre English medium schools.”

The funding comes from a £36m package announced by the Welsh Government in 2017 that was partially to address infant class sizes, to get them under the 30 pupil figure. Cllr Wynn, Lead Member for People – Education, told us all authorities in Wales were invited to make bids and Wrexham was not only successful, “We have had more than a fair share of the cake.”

Wrexham Council are being given £1 million of grant funding to create the space, along with over £700,000 of revenue support for staffing costs over a three year period.

If more children go to Barker’s Lane, it will take pressure off other schools so that hopefully their classroom sizes will dip below 30 pupils.

Earlier this week Cllr Phil Wynn, lead member for education, gave a rough timeline for the changes, firstly seeking approval for the consultation from the Executive Board, and then conducting it.

“We bring that back, and address concerns raised. Then we place the Statutory Notice, and at that point people can make their comments into objections, and then we address those objections,” he said.

“If it proceeds, we would look to get contractors in this time next year.

“I have met with the head, and she is quite excited about this proposal, but first we just need to follow due process.”

Council Leader Mark Pritchard offered a ‘big thanks’ to Cllr Wynn, the education department and the team behind putting the grant together calling the successful award “fantastic news”.

Speaking of two processes he noted: “It needs to go out to consultation, and if we do decide to go for it then the planning process will start.

“I want to be clear to split those into two, to make sure people do not think we have prejudged anything. We do not know what will come back from the consultation.”

The proposal will be debated by members of the executive board members on Tuesday 11th September at 10am. The meeting will also be webcast live on the Wrexham Council website.

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