Plans approved to create 3,000 more spaces in Sandwell schools
Plans to invest £11 million in the "pressing need" for over 3,000 more secondary school places in Sandwell by September 2025 have been passed by council bosses.
The council’s cabinet has approved the first stage of the scheme which will see an extra 990 students at Bristnall Hall, West Bromwich Collegiate and the Q3 academies.
Lesley Hagger, executive director of children’s services, told the meeting a 26 per cent increase in the birth rate over 10 years had required the authority to provide 5,000 places in 36 primary schools since 2011.
She added: “All those numbers coming through primary schools have to go onto secondary education and at first that wasn’t a problem because there were surplus in secondary school places which were used up first and since 2016 we have been creating more places.
“Now we know the birth rate has plateaued there is a pressing need for more secondary places.”
The scheme will see a new teaching block for Bristnall Hall providing 150 additional spaces by September 2020.
Q3 Academy in Langley would get two new buildings allowing it to expand its pupil roll by 390 while the completion of a main teaching block and sports hall for West Bromwich Collegiate would see room for an additional 450 students.
A report to the cabinet stated: “The Schools Capital Programme aligns to service needs so that the council is able to meet its statutory responsibility of ensuring every child in Sandwell has access to a good school place by seeking to build on its commitment to expand successful and popular schools.”
Overall, education officers say the borough needs an additional 3,300 spaces to keep pace with the demand in children numbers.
Councillor Joyce Underhill, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for Best Start in Life said: "We are working to make sure there are enough school places for pupils in Sandwell. These places are particularly needed in Smethwick and Oldbury to accommodate large year groups we know are coming through our primary schools.
“Bristnall Hall Academy has a very good reputation and has been over-subscribed for some years. This extension will allow 30 more pupils each year to attend this popular school."