Infant classes most packed in the county

Education
Education

Crawley has more over-crowded infant school classrooms than any other borough in the county.

Some 499 children in 16 classes were affected by overcrowding in 2014 – a huge rise from 2010’s figures which included 193 children in six classes.

The schools with the most classes of more than 30 children were Three Bridges Primary School – which had the worst figures in the county, 158 children in five classes – and Northgate Primary, which had 124 children in four classes.

County wide, 1,749 children in 56 classes were affected – 7.05 per cent of the total infant school classes.

The only school with over crowding figures as high as Crawley’s was Heron Way Primary, in Horsham, which taught 125 children in four classes.

The issue of overcrowding was raised at a meeting of West Sussex County Council’s full council on Friday (March 27) by Cllr Chris Oxlade (Lab, Bewbush & Ifield West).

Putting the figures to Cllr Jeremy Hunt, cabinet member for education and skills, Cllr Oxlade asked: “In 2010 David Cameron pledged no child in a junior or infants school would be in a class size over 30

“Since 2010, there’s been a 450 per cent rise in the amount of pupils taught in classes sized over 30 in West Sussex.

“In Crawley it’s a 260 per cent rise and these figures don’t include academies or free schools.

“Don’t parents and pupils deserve better?”

The county council published a full list of 36 schools which had more than 30 children in some classes. In 2010 there were only 10 schools on the list.

Cllr Hunt told the meeting the law had changed in 2012 meaning there were certain children schools were required to accept, even if their class size had already reached 30.

They included looked-after children, twins, children with special educational needs and the children of service personnel.

Cllr Hunt said the council did attempt to balance things to ensure classes numbers didn’t stray over 30 pupils.

He added: “In an ideal world we would stick with that but the law is the law and we have to apply the law.”