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Lowestoft school in cash plea

PUBLISHED: 10:50 18 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:41 06 July 2010

A SCHOOL is resorting to its own fundraising efforts to build a larger hall as it prepares to welcome more than 130 new pupils in the next two years.

Last December, Suffolk County Council approved plans for a series of building works at Woods Loke Primary School, Oulton Broad, as part of the controversial Schools Organisation Review (SOR).

A SCHOOL is resorting to its own fundraising efforts to build a larger hall as it prepares to welcome more than 130 new pupils in the next two years.

Last December, Suffolk County Council approved plans for a series of building works at Woods Loke Primary School, Oulton Broad, as part of the controversial Schools Organisation Review (SOR).

With improvements - including four new classrooms, activity areas and a replacement hard play - all given the go-ahead, work is set to start on these developments next week.

But with the race now on to complete the changes in time for the new school year, The Journal has learned that the work is not likely to be finished until January 2011 - meaning that the first group of children to be staying at Woods Loke look set to be taught in portable classrooms.

In an effort to help it cater properly for the new pupils, letters have been sent out to parents and local businesses as the school seeks to raise £50,000 to fund the expansion.

“These activities are part of our efforts to raise £50,000 over three years to pay for the larger hall that will be needed as part of the school's re-organisation,” said head teacher Mark Prentice. “The new hall will let us cater for increased numbers of children and will be a space where we can deliver PE and gymnastics to older children. It will also cater to the wider community through dance and sports clubs.”

Although the SOR has drawn fierce criticism in Lowestoft, amid claims that the change from a three to two-tier school system has not been properly planned or funded, Mr Prentice remained positive.

“We have got what we wanted, except for the changing rooms, and so we are working hard to raise that bit of extra money so the whole community can benefit,” he said.

“A school hall the size of 150sqm is not a lot bigger than what we have already got - so by creating an 180sq m hall we can also open it up to the whole community and build changing rooms as well.”

With staff and pupils embracing the fundraising events, every child in the school, from nursery classes upwards, will today (June 18) take part in a marathon-themed sports activity.

Next Friday, Year One teacher Johnny Lee will aim to complete a full marathon, from Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft, finishing at school. He will be joined by Toni Parker, who will be on her bike.

And in September, Mr Prentice and other staff will take part in a sponsored parachute jump at Beccles.

“If any local companies or business would like to donate monies or sponsorship towards the project we would be delighted to hear from you,” Mr Prentice said. “This is a sign of our commitment to providing the best possible environment to support our children's learning at Woods Loke Primary School.”

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said that, despite criticism, the SOR had not led to a shortfall in funding for planned developments in local schools. He said: “Funding as part of the School Organisation Review has not been reduced for schools in the Lowestoft area.

“The county council is providing those facilities that a school needs to accommodate the two additional year groups. However, where a school wants to further enhance facilities they can choose to do so from their own resources. It is not unusual for schools to enhance building projects (rather than doing their own separate one) in this way, as it represents better value for money.”

The county council also says that “£40m of funding” is earmarked for Lowestoft.

“The first of these projects, the new sports facilities at Barnard's Meadow is now finished and others will follow over the next months,” the spokesman added. “In addition, work has already begun on the new £25m sixth form college.”


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