Hugely oversubscribed special school in Oldham needs new classrooms

Reporter: Jess Reeves
Date published: 05 April 2019

A hugely oversubscribed special school needs a new extension to cope with rising demand.

New Bridge Community School in Failsworth was only supposed to accommodate up to 144 pupils, but it now has 261 – a more than 80 percent increase.

The Roman Road school opened in 2004 and serves youngsters aged from 11 to 16. 

Documents submitted to the planning authority on behalf of the New Bridge Multi Academy Trust state that it is a ‘successful and popular special school in Oldham’.

However the design and access statement adds: “The increase in pupil numbers has had a profound effect on the school’s existing accommodation which is now under significant pressure. 
“The need to provide additional enhanced accommodation is an essential requirement to ensure the future development of the school to cope with growing pupil numbers, due to the high demand for places at the school.”

The school has applied to build a first floor extension to create a new teaching block as part of the autism base, which is currently under construction at the site.

The extension would comprise of four new classrooms, practical teaching space, ‘safe space’ rooms, pupil and staff toilet facilities and link corridor.

Currently there are ‘significant shortfalls’ when compared with statutory school regulations, according to the report, mainly relating to a shortfall in the floor area for teaching accommodation. 

In August last year the academy trust received planning permission to extend the adjoining Hollinwood Academy, adding a new two storey extension to create four classrooms.

That school is also under ‘significant pressure’ to take new pupils, and needed to expand ‘urgently’, according to the trustees.

The academy offers ‘state-of-the-art specialist provision’ for pupils aged four to 19 who have autism or social communication needs.

A secure playground area will also be created outside, featuring a canopy to provide a ‘multi-use’ sheltered play and games area which could be used in all weathers all year round.

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