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Norfolk's multi-million pound plan for 26 new or expanded schools

Norfolk County Council, 3 January 2023 00:00

A total of 26 new schools could be built across the county within the next 10 years as part of Norfolk County Council's £308 million Local Growth and Investment Plan.

A report to the council's cabinet set out the need for new school-builds and eight existing school expansions to ensure sufficient places in 24 areas of major planned housing growth.

But while some areas are set to grow significantly, there has been an overall decline in the birth rate in Norfolk of 19% since 2012 which has led to 523 less primary places being needed this year. This decline reflects the national picture generally of reducing birth rate.

Cllr John Fisher, cabinet member for Children's Services, said: "Our role is to make sure there are enough school places for children from the age of four to 16 and to co-ordinate admission numbers for schools, particularly where we are seeing significant demographic change in particular areas of the county.

"We have an excellent track record of planning for and delivering new school builds and expansions to make sure children already living in or moving to an area have a school place in their locality.

"And we will be working closely with all schools across the education system in the coming months to mitigate the impact wherever possible where we know we face declining pupil numbers."

Major new growth is planned for the North Norwich growth triangle of Sprowston, Old Catton and Rackheath which could see 12,000 new homes built; Thetford where 5,000 new homes are planned, and Attleborough and West Winch/North Runcton, which each have planned developments of 4,000 new homes.

Significant growth is also planned for Aylsham, Blofield/Brundall, Bradwell, Caister-on-Sea, Cringleford, Dereham, Downham Market, East Norwich, Easton, Fakenham, Hellesdon, Hethersett, Holt, King's Lynn, Long Stratton, North Walsham, South Wootton, Taverham, Wisbech and Wymondham.

New primary schools are planned for: Attleborough (2), Aylsham, Beeston Park (2), Blofield, Bradwell, east of Broadland Business Park, Caister-on-Sea, Cringleford, Fakenham, Hellesdon, Little Plumstead, Poringland, Rackheath (2), South of Salhouse Road, Silfield, Taverham, Thetford (3), and West Winch (2). A replacement school building is planned for Long Stratton with plans to increase capacity at the existing West Winch primary.

A new secondary school is planned for North Norwich. Secondary school expansions or increased capacity are planned for: Aylsham, Fakenham, Hellesdon, Hethersett, King's Lynn, Long Stratton, Thetford, and Wymondham.

Areas which have seen a significant decline in the number of children against available capacity are: Acle, Cromer and Sheringham, Dereham, Diss, Flegg, King's Lynn central area, Litcham, Loddon, North Walsham, Reepham, and Stalham.

Methods to manage dropping pupil numbers include: encouraging schools not to admit more pupils than stated in their planned admission numbers, encouraging schools to join a governance group such as federation or MAT, changing age ranges for a school, and merging schools in existing or newly provided buildings, with closure of schools being a last resort.

Norfolk County Council is in the process of conducting the planned admission number consultation for 2024-25 school year. This is expected to conclude by the end of January and will be increasing its work with schools after this information is gathered to manage and co-ordinate numbers to help mitigate the impact for those schools experiencing significant declines in pupil numbers.

Cabinet will consider the report when it meets at 10am on Wednesday, January 11th. Watch the meeting, live or afterwards and read the papers

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:44

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