Barnoldswick Catholic school's expansion hopes dashed

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and Barnoldwick councillor Lyle Davy visted St Joseph's Primary School to hear about their hopes for expanding the school.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and Barnoldwick councillor Lyle Davy visted St Joseph's Primary School to hear about their hopes for expanding the school.

First published in News

DESPITE requests from the Pendle MP, a local councillor and headteacher, St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Barnoldswick will not be allowed to expand.

Pendle’s youngest councillor, 18-year-old Lyle Davy , returned to his old primary school to look at the school's challenges with MP Andrew Stephenson.

The school currently has five classrooms, each of which caters for split year groups. Space has always been at a premium, but in recent years demand for school places has far exceeded capacity.

The school can only admit 20 children each year, but this year the school had applications from 27 Catholic families.

Headteacher Natalie Wood said: "St Joseph’s is an over-subscribed school that serves the Catholic community in the local area. Presently we have five classrooms with an overall capacity for 140 children.

"In September 2014, we will have 147 children on roll, the highest capacity we have had. This is a result of successful appeals."

The parish priest, Father Simon Winn, told Cllr Davy and Mr Stephenson that the situation was the same last year and baptismal records indicate that the over-subscription issue is likely to continue in the coming years.

Members of the school council, made up from each year group, also explained to Mr Stephenson and Cllr Davy how the lack of space was affecting their education.

The school hopes to secure funding to add another two classrooms, to boost their yearly admissions number to 30 children, enabling them to better cater for children from Barnoldswick, Earby, Kelbrook and Salterforth.

"This is proving extremely difficult and we have been informed by Lancashire County Council that there is no need as there are sufficient places for pupils in our locality," said Mrs Wood. "However there are not sufficient places for Catholic families wanting their child to attend a Catholic school in their own locality."

Mr Stephenson said: “The current Government has doubled the funding for new school places and this means across Pendle we are seeing four brand new primary schools.

"However, it is clear that many parents wish to send their children to a local Catholic school cannot be fulfilled as St Joseph’s is oversubscribed, but so are the other nearest Catholic schools in Colne and Skipton."

Although Mr Stephenson said he would take up the issue with the county council, a spokesman confirmed no school expansion is planned.

Lynn Mappin, Lancashire County Council's manager for school planning, said: "One of the things the county council must do is ensure there are enough school places for children in each area of the county.

"If there is a need for more places, we consult and carefully plan where and how many places should be added, so as not to de-stabilise other schools. This was carried out when Barnoldswick C of E Primary was expanded in 2012.

"There are currently sufficient places in Barnoldswick primary schools for the numbers of children in the area, and though we will continue to monitor demand, there are no current plans for expansion."

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