New classroom will cost popular primary school £100,000

Date: Tuesday 4th April 2017

KIRKBY Stephen Primary School is to stump up £100,000 for a new classroom after admission numbers have grown so high that children living in the catchment area could be refused a place.

The school’s current published admission number is 30 but headteacher Lynne Wade said she was aware of at least 44 children who would be applying for to join the school this September — all but one living within the catchment area.

Cumbria County Council has offered no help to the school and instead recommended that it stick to the 30 children limit, in which case the authority would then refuse 14 children places and instead ship them off to the next nearest schools.

However, the school is refusing to let this happen and says that as a community school it will not let children living in the area be excluded.

“We believe very strongly that we are a true community school and that we would want to accommodate every child whose parents or carers have applied for a place here,” said Mrs. Wade.

“If we limit our admissions number to 30, we are aware that there would be children living within the Kirkby Stephen catchment area who would not be offered a place at our school.

“These children would then be offered a place at the next nearest school and would be transported there by Cumbria County Council. We firmly believe that Kirkby Stephen is a growing, vibrant community and we want to offer all the children a place in our school from September.”

In order to meet this growing demand the school has already committed to employing an additional teacher so that two reception classes can run in parallel.

School supporters have launched a campaign to raise £50,000, which will be matched with £50,000 from school funds, in order to build a new classroom by September. The county council has refused to help financially.

The school hosted a meeting with parents and members of the community on Monday where around 40 people turned out in support. A number of committees have been formed to help in the fund-raising campaign.

This will include a variety of fund-raising events, appealing to local businesses, asking for monetary donations or donations of materials, labour, raffle prizes or items for an auction of promises.

“This school is committed to the provision of high quality education for every child within our catchment area. The children here are happy and we take great pride in their attainments and achievements and always seek to instil in them a polite and thoughtful outlook,” said Mrs. Wade.

“We want every local child to share in that experience. With the help and involvement of the community as a whole, we are sure that we can achieve this.”

The school has exceeded its admission number before when in 2015 it took in 34 new starters. The expansion will result in the school going from having eight classes to nine, in which the number of pupils in each class will vary from 24 to 34.

A list of fund-raising events can be found on the school website, and anyone offering to help with the campaign can contact the school on 017683 71387.