An Isle of Wight school says it does not support a plan by neighbour Lanesend Primary to change the layout of its site, to increase the number of its pupils.

It currently welcomes 438 children and is funded for 420. However, it wants permission to increase this to 504 pupils.

Northwood Primary has called the idea “unhelpful and inappropriate” in its newsletter to parents this week.

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It said,

“We do not support Lanesend’s proposal to increase their pupil intake. With birth rates on the Island decreasing rather than increasing, there is currently sufficient capacity within the Cowes Cluster Primaries for the children in the area, with spare places available across the year groups in the other three local Primary schools. Cowes Primary has already reduced its Planned Admissions Number (PAN) to support the Cluster in terms of spare capacity and
maintaining the viability of our local schools. At a time when Island schools and the Local Authority are reviewing pupil places with the view to reducing the size of pupil intakes, we feel it is both unhelpful and inappropriate for one school to disengage with the Isle of Wight community and seek to increase its pupil numbers. This is a time when we need to adopt a strategic overview and work collaboratively.”

Based in Cowes, Lanesend Primary, which starred in the BBC2 documentary No More Boys and Girls, is consulting on the plans which require permission from the Department for Education.

Launching its consultation on Wednesday it said,

“Lanesend Primary has made a strategic decision to offer small classes as long as the budget permits. This means offering three classes currently in some year groups with a likely ability to be able to offer this across the school, as necessary. In order to do this we need to make changes to our building so we can offer 21 classroom bases….an expansion of the physical capacity beyond the capacity which the trust can authorise and a change in number of roll.”

Speaking to Isle of Wight Radio, Isle of Wight Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services (including schools) Paul Brading said the plan does not match the current trend:

“As it stands at the moment the primary sector on the Island..we have far too many places for the number of children coming through. The number of children coming through drops rather than increases. Lanesend will have to make an extrememly stong case.

“Because they’re a stand alone academy it ultimately goes to the regional schools commissioner for approval. As local authority i would not welcome any school increasing their class size because we’ve go other schools on the Island that can easily cope.”

Meanwhile, both Cowes Enterprise College and Medina College have recently consulted on plans to reduce their year seven intake from 2020.

A meeting will be held on 7 February at 6.30pm at Lanesend Primary school. The consultation will run until 5pm on 20 February.