Stowmarket: Anguish in Cedars Park housing development as dozens of children miss out on favoured primary school
One area where housing development is putting pressure on school places is Cedars Park in Stowmarket.
Several families from the burgeoning housing development were left bitterly disappointed on National Offer Day this year after their children were denied a place at the local primary school, Cedars Park Community Primary.
The school was originally built for a capacity of 150, not including Years 5 and 6. Since then it has been extended twice to extend that capacity to 315. A third extension is currently underway which will see capacity rise to 420 for September next year.
Last year the school took on 90 new pupils, despite a Published Admission Number of 60.
However this year only 60 pupils were taken, and 24 turned away, including from families who live less than half a mile away.
Many of those children who were denied a place at Cedars Park Community Primary School have instead been allocated a place at Trinity Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School, roughly two miles away, which will open in September this year.
Suffolk County Council has said Trinity CEVAP was built to take in the extra capacity from nearby housing developments.
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Cedars Park CPS will also have to accommodate Years 5 and 6 as a result of the Schools Organisation Review which will see nearby middle schools close.
Education officers say that when the school was built there were 1250 dwellings forecasted at the Cedars Park development, however that has now risen to 2000.
Ali Huggins’ little girl Daisy was one of those who missed out on a place at Cedars Park CPS.
The school is less than half a mile from their front door and Ali and her husband have lived on the estate for 10 years.
“I’ve literally been in tears ever since I found out about it. It’s caused so much stress to me and my husband,” said Ali. “We feel really let down by everybody.
“We feel like we’ve been rejected to a new school that doesn’t even exist yet. My daughter is really upset because she walks past that school every day to go to pre-school and she always thought she’d go to it. Now she wants to know why she can’t go there and I can’t answer that.”
Lindi Wallace, from Curlew Close, has two young boys, the eldest of whom has been allocated a place at Trinity CEVAP rather than Cedars Park CPS.
“We bought our house 18 months ago and it was definitely in our minds when we bought it.
“The main issue is that there are so many of us from within the catchment area who haven’t got into the school. It feels like there should be another class as they did last year.
“I’ve been very anxious… the fact is he’s going to a new school where nothing is known.”
Neither Ali nor Lindi have access to a car during the day, so will have to make alternative arrangements to travel the roughly two miles to Trinity CEVAP each morning.
Sophie Hayden is also concerned about the walk to Trinity CEVAP from her home with her daughter Evie, who missed out on a place in Cedars Park.
“I can’t get any closer (to Cedars Park CPS) unless I lived right next to it.”
She felt that the school “definitely should have been expanded earlier.”
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “We can only build schools with the capacity to meet needs that we’re aware of at the time of planning. When Cedars Park Primary was built, the capacity reflected the surrounding area and forecasted growth.”
He added: “We need to ensure the pupils can attend a school which is accessible and within a sensible distance to travel. This is why we’re opening Trinity Church of England Primary school, which is less than two miles away from Cedars Park CPS.
“This school will be developed to provide spacious accommodation and generous outside facilities for young children.
“Linda Corran-Spain has been appointed as the headteacher and Sarah Godbold, who is a lead practitioner for early years and an outstanding teacher, has been appointed as the deputy headteacher. They are looking forward to growing the school which will open to reception age pupils in September 2014.
“A meeting has been arranged for prospective parents at 4.30pm on May 8 at the Community Centre at Combs.”