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Fears over new school

PUBLISHED: 10:25 16 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:17 05 July 2010

A headteacher has raised fears that a new high school for Lowestoft will not be big enough when it opens its doors for the first time in 2011.

About 540 youngsters are expected to start at the new school on the site of Pakefield Middle School, but will initially be taught in existing buildings before extension work gets under way.

A headteacher has raised fears that a new high school for Lowestoft will not be big enough when it opens its doors for the first time in 2011.

About 540 youngsters are expected to start at the new school on the site of Pakefield Middle School, but will initially be taught in existing buildings before extension work gets under way.

This has sparked fears from Pakefield Middle headteacher Mark Cresswell, who revealed he was limited to teaching just 492 pupils at the Kilbourn Road site.

The high school will serve south Lowestoft and expand to take 900 pupils, with room for 180 new starters each year as part of Suffolk County Council's shake-up of education, which will see middle schools closed.

However, Mr Cresswell also raised concerns about these figures, saying that two of the existing middle schools in the south Lowestoft catchment area - Pakefield Middle and Gisleham Middle - were sending a combined 260 pupils to high school.

Mr Cresswell said he was pleased Pakefield Middle had been chosen as the site for the new school, but explained he did not believe classrooms designed for middle school pupils were appropriate for older children.

“In practical terms it may be difficult to fit the children in. It

will be bursting at the seams,” he added.

“At this time, I still have some reservations and concerns about the bid that has been proposed.”

Mr Cresswell, who is leaving Pakefield Middle at Christmas to take over as head of Avenue Junior School in Norwich, added: “It would be fine if they were year five and six pupils, but year seven, eight and nine pupils are much bigger. This school needs to be a beacon in the area. Are they going to teach in the staffroom or canteen?”

The county council's plans for the £26.5m school, which will specialise in either science or humanities, are subject to a period of consultation until October 24 and a final decision by the independent schools' adjudicator by the end of the year.

The majority of the money will come from the government's Building Schools for the Future initiative, but this will not be available until 2014.

A county council spokesman said: “Capital funding is allocated to develop the current Pakefield Middle School building to ensure there is sufficient room for all ages… This will ensure the school is fit-for-purpose until the BSF funding becomes available.”

He added: “The number of places being planned in the secondary schools from 2011 onwards reflects the number of children now attending first schools in the town.”

A public meeting to discuss the plans for the new high school will be held at Pakefield Middle School from 7pm on September 23.

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