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Primary school places: Figures reveal rocketing demand in market town

PUBLISHED: 12:15 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:38 08 May 2019

New figures have revealed the pressure on school places in Wymondham. Almost 100 families had their applications for a reception place for their child for the 2019/20 school year refused by the town's primary schools. Picture: ARCHANT

New figures have revealed the pressure on school places in Wymondham. Almost 100 families had their applications for a reception place for their child for the 2019/20 school year refused by the town's primary schools. Picture: ARCHANT

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The clamour for school places in Wymondham has been revealed as figures show almost 100 families trying to get their child a reception place in the town for the new school year were left disappointed.

Browick Road Primary School headteacher Pauline McMullan (back left) at the opening of the schools new activity centre in 2015. Picture: ARCHANTBrowick Road Primary School headteacher Pauline McMullan (back left) at the opening of the schools new activity centre in 2015. Picture: ARCHANT

Ashleigh Primary School had to turn away as many children as it offered places to after receiving 119 applications for its 60 places for the 2019/20 intake, according to admissions data from Norfolk County Council.

Browick Road Primary could also have filled its new reception year twice, with offers made for its 30 places and a further 37 applications refused.

The town's third primary, Robert Kett, filled its 90 places and had to refuse one applicant.

READ MORE: Revealed: the most popular primary schools in Norfolk

Pauline McMullan, headteacher at Browick Road Primary, said the school has had to hire more support staff to cope with the increase in numbers. Four of the school's seven classes now have more than 30 pupils in them.

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"It puts pressure particularly on the teachers and their workload," Mrs McMullan said. "It's also affecting the amount of time the children get with their teacher.

"It is difficult for the parents as well because at the end of the day there is no alternative for them."

A plan for new schools across Norfolk to cope with anticipated population growth and housing development - approved by the county council in March - includes only one new primary school to serve Wymondham, set to be built in Silfield.

Mrs McMullan said Norfolk County Council had "tried their hardest" to support the schools in Wymondham amid its population growth, including funding a major extension at Ashleigh Primary, but she feels the town has been short-changed by developers who have not provided school places with new homes.

The pressure on places is starting to seep into the surrounding villages: Banham Primary had to refuse seven applications after filling its 16 places for the 2019/20 intake; Great Ellingham Primary received 34 applications for its 25 places; Hingham Primary filled its 30 places and had to turn away five applicants; and Morley CE VA Primary made 16 offers for its 15 places.

The county council's schools growth and investment plan noted an "evident drift" among families in Attleborough towards village schools, estimating that 22pc of children from the town's catchment had a preference for a school outside catchment in September 2018.

A spokeswoman for Banham Primary said its "outstanding" Ofsted rating had historically led to oversubscription.

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