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Headteacher welcomes plans to expand Cliffe Woods Primary School

Medway councillors have approved plans to increase the capacity of Cliffe Woods Primary School by 105 places.

The school was one of six looked at by Medway Council as they seek to meet a rising demand on the Hoo Peninsula - where 234 children are applying for 225 school places this September.

Headteacher Tim Muggridge at Cliffe Woods Primary School, View Road
Headteacher Tim Muggridge at Cliffe Woods Primary School, View Road

The problem is set to be exacerbated by rising birth rates and new housing developments, prompting council officers to explore options, including an increase in admission at Cliffe Woods from 45 to 60.

Discussion at Medway’s cabinet meeting on Tuesday noted Cliffe Woods’ “outstanding” Ofsted rating, as well as the “good” ratings of other schools considered - including St Helen’s in Cliffe, Hoo St Werburgh, High Halstow, Chattenden, and Hundred of Hoo Academy.

Cllr Alan Jarrett noted the generally improved “direction of travel” of Medway schools, adding: “It’s been said in the past ‘it takes time to turn an oil tanker around’. It really is moving in the right direction.”

Cliffe Woods itself was said to be on a “good size site” and would only require a small amount of expansion work, costing less than £600,000.

Headteacher Tim Muggridge welcomed news of the approval.

“It is a really exciting time for us and the local community as it means that even more of the children that live in Cliffe Woods can attend our school, where previously due to the number of spaces we offered they couldn’t.

“The benefits for the school will be amazing: even better facilities for our children, eventually no more mixed year groups in classes and class numbers will remain sensible.

“I firmly believe that schools should be the centre of the community and this allows us to embed this even further.”

He said the expansion plan would include additional parking to relieve the pressures of traffic outside the school, and that the kitchen will be expanded to provide the amount of dinners required.

Work is not due to be finished until 2018, but the school has said it can take extra pupils from 2017 knowing the expansion would be ready for the next intake.

The cost, location and size of the sites at High Halstow Primary, Hoo St Werburgh and Chattenden Primary Academy have ruled them out as options at the moment.

Chattenden Primary Academy will be expanded if the Lodge Hill development goes ahead.

The 5,000-home development, which has been called in for review by the government, would also see three new primary schools and a secondary school built.

A primary school is currently being built at Hundred of Hoo Academy with 30 places but could expand in the future if more new homes are built nearby.

The proposal would normally be considered in the autumn as part of the annual review of the school organisation plan, but to ensure the places are available soon the discussion has been moved forward.

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