This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 24/04/2017.
Children stuck studying in ‘sheds’ as plans to build a permanent school for pupils rejected
Schoolchildren forced to study in “sheds” will be stuck in the “despicable” situation as plans to build a permanent school building have been rejected by the council.
Pupils at Paxton Academy Sports and Science have been taught in temporary “shed” structures ever since the primary school opened two and half years ago, despite pressure to build a permanent site.
Plans were put forward to Croydon Council to gain permission to finally construct the long-awaited building, but despite being recommended for approval by officers the proposal was rejected at a meeting of the planning committee last Thursday (April 20).
This means pupils at the free school based in Thornton Heath will remain in the cramped temporary units for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve got a six-year-old boy in the school,” said mum Mica Lawrence, 24. “The kids are working in what are practically sheds, it’s despicable.
“At first I thought this would only be for a year, but still nothing has been sorted. It’s a joke.
“I feel that these kids are owed so much more. They deserve to be taken out of that school [and placed elsewhere], instead of waiting for promises that are not going to be kept.”
Ms Lawrence, who lives in Thornton Heath, added she is not alone in her worry over the future of the school, which opened in September 2014 by placing temporary structures at Streatham-Croydon Rugby Club, just off Brigstock Road.
Originally the plan was to remain in the “shed” structures before moving into a permanent place within 18 months, during a time of increased demand for school places.
But almost three years later the primary school pupils are still confined to the same “shed” style buildings.
It was hoped the situation would finally be resolved if plans were approved for a four-storey school just off London Road.
However, councillors voted unanimously to oppose the plans, raising concerns that the proposed site would be too small, as well as how close it would be to the busy and polluting London Road.
The decision comes after local Croydon North MP Steve Reed took the issue all the way to government, demanding Education Secretary Nick Gibbs try and resolve the ongoing issue with the school.
There are concerns over the current set up, including the limited play space at the school and the impact of cramped conditions on behaviour and achievement.
Ms Lawrence said: “I’m not alone in worrying.
“I feel that every child that goes to this school is at risk of not reaching their full potential. I’ve noticed a change in my own son since he started attending.
“It’s not a good environment.
“I feel bad for new parents who think the new school will be built. Us parents that have been there a while know that nothing will happen. It has become really frustrating.”
The plans which were rejected by councillors involved creating a four-storey school building with more than 3,000 square feet of floor space, to be located slightly removed from the current school site and further down London Road in Thornton Heath.
The rejected proposal, according to council documents: “would provide much needed school places in the borough and enable the temporary school to relocate to a purpose-built permanent building.”
It is understood other sites for a permanent home for the school may now be considered.