Crawley school is ready to grow – but not too large

Our Lady Queen of Heaven School (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151210-173617008
Our Lady Queen of Heaven School (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151210-173617008
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A primary school is preparing to lay the foundation stone in its new extension.

Our Lady Queen of Heaven, in Langley Green, will receive three extra classrooms, an extended hall and an additional outdoor all-weather area as part of the project.

You read about super-size schools and they are too big. We know the names of all the children and what their backgrounds are. We always said we could go this size and no bigger

Tobias Melia, headteacher

The work, funded by West Sussex County Council, will get under way on November 16 and should be completed by July 2016.

It will be one of a number of builds at schools across the county which became necessary when an increase in the birth rate coupled with major housing developments saw a rise in pupil numbers.

Headteacher Tobias Melia said the Our Lady community was excited by the coming changes to the 58-year-old school but did not wish to grow too large.

He added: “One of the things we were really keen on was that in growing we weren’t going to grow too big because we’re a community school.

“You read about super-size schools and they are too big. We know the names of all the children and what their backgrounds are. We always said we could go this size and no bigger.”

The expansion will see the number of classrooms at the school rise from 11-14.

In September 2016, the number of children taken in at Reception level will rise from 45-60 but it will be five years before Our Lady is up to full capacity.

Mr Melia said the gradual increase was important to the school as it would not inflict a sudden increase in traffic on residents in Hare Lane.

He added: “West Sussex Highways have been really supportive and are looking at how access to the school can be improved. They are looking at a lay-by along Ifield Avenue being used as a safe drop-off point.”

The children of the school council were given the opportunity to say what they would like to see incorporated in the new build – though the suggestion the budget might stretch to a swimming pool had to be turned down!

The youngsters will have a hand in designing the safety signs which will be placed along the fencing surrounding the building site, reminding each other the area is not a playground.

Mr Melia said: “As you would expect, safeguarding is everyone’s number one priority.”

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