Overcrowded schools in Wellingborough, Corby and Kettering could struggle to reopen safely, union warns

There are 19 schools overcapacity in the north of the county

Monday, 25th May 2020, 6:00 am

In one week English schools will be opening again but unions are warning that overcapacity schools will find it difficult to follow new social distancing rules.

Schools are beginning a phased reopening on June 1, with select year groups returning to the classroom.

The National Education Union (NEU) said it would be “impossible” for many schools to follow new rules, which includes a maximum class size of 15 children and desks spaced further apart, because they have too many pupils.

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Overcrowded schools could struggle to open, a union has warned

More than half of Northamptonshire’s 33 oversubscribed schools are in the north of the county, where 19 primary and secondary schools are overcapacity according to data from 2018/19.

The most oversubscribed school in the north of the county was The Avenue Infant School in Wellingborough, which was 10.4 per cent over capacity last year.

The most overcapacity secondary school was Huxlow Science College, with 65 extra students.

Primary schools are the hardest hit by capacity issues, with 16 primaries making up the 19 overcapacity schools in north Northants.

Also on the list with The Avenue Infant School in Wellingborough, descending in the rate of overcapacity, is St Barnabas, All Saints and Little Harrowden Community Primary School in the nearby village.

In the Corby area there is Gretton Primary, Stanion Primary, Rockingham Primary, Beanfield Primary, and St Patrick’s Primary School.

In the Kettering area, there is Rushton Primary in the nearby village, Kettering Park Junior, Pytchley primary in the nearby village, St Thomas More Primary, Havelock Junior School in Desborough, and Hall Meadow Primary School.

In East Northants, there is South End Junior School in Rushden.

The three oversubscribed secondary schools in the north of the county, in descending order, are Huxlow Science College in Irthlingborough, Manor School Sports College in Raunds, and Bishop Stopford School in Kettering.

Bishop Stopford School and St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, Corby, are the least overcapacity schools in the area, both at 0.4 per cent with six extra pupils.

Across England, there are 3,330 schools over capacity and Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “The Government's current guidance for the wider opening of schools fails to address the necessity of social distancing.

“It is quite clear classes of 15 are impossible for many schools on grounds of space alone. This situation will clearly be exacerbated in those schools that are over capacity.”

“We all want some sort of normality back in our lives but the NEU believes the wider opening of schools should only occur when we see the scientific evidence that says it is safe to do so.”

The Department for Education said that a school’s overall capacity did not relate to its ability to welcome a limited number of further students back from June.

Any schools unable to accommodate small groups were being given further guidance, a spokesman said.

The spokesman said: “We want children back in schools as soon as possible because being with their teachers and friends is so important for their education and their wellbeing.

“Plans for a cautious, phased return of some year groups from 1 June, at the earliest, are based on the best scientific and medical advice. The welfare of children and staff has been at the heart of all decision-making.”