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High intake forces school to expand

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: September 28, 2012

  • PLANNING ROW: Leaders of St Petroc's School have been criticised by Bodmin's deputy mayor.

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BODMIN'S deputy mayor has slammed bosses of a local primary school after discovering they had begun building a new classroom without permission.

Andy Coppin accused the head teacher of St Petroc's School, Stuart Renshaw, of setting a bad example by ignoring established planning procedures.

He blasted: "Surely, as someone in such a responsible position, the headmaster should know better? What sort of example is that setting to children and parents that he is willing to just break rules that everyone else has to abide by?"

But in a joint statement on behalf of the school and Cornwall Council, a spokeswoman said the new classroom had to be built immediately to accommodate 27 new pupils this academic year.

A "significant number" of late applications for September school places meant there were just 184 reception class spots for 222 youngsters in the town, she said, and St Petroc's had already been identified as the school with the greatest potential for expansion.

The spokeswoman said: "In order to avoid a situation in Bodmin this year where local children could not be offered a reception place at their local school, causing many families considerable upset, the local authority has had to proceed very quickly to implement this scheme.

"Without the support of the head teacher of St Petroc's School this could not have been achieved. The local authority and the head teacher are confident that the scheme will enhance provision at the school, ensuring that it is able to continue to deliver its objective to 'care, share and grow together' with the local community."

Mr Coppin, who is also chairman of the town council's planning committee, told the Cornish Guardian he had been "shocked" to find construction work going on at the school as he had not seen a planning application.

And his anger continued to mount when he saw workmen apparently building "on and in" the playing field.

He said: "I am very passionate about not building on green spaces wherever possible and given its proximity to Priory Park I really think this is the wrong place to build. I have grave concerns that this sort of bad decision-making is going to have an impact on what was a very good school."

Mr Coppin said he understood a retrospective planning application had been submitted, and looked forward to scrutinising it.

However, the council spokeswoman said the new building would be located away from the main playing field.

She said: "A statistical analysis survey of the whole school site has been undertaken which has determined that the build location and areas used will not be detrimental to playing field and green space provision at the school. Pre-application guidance from the planning authority has been sought and followed with regard to the planning application."

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  • speakoutmama  |  October 03 2012, 2:05PM

    I find it sad that an excellent school should have its name plastered over the front page of the local paper simply because it is trying to meet the demands of local families, especially by the Deputy Mayor, someone I would have expected to be in full favour of providing full education in suitable conditions for all the children of Bodmin. This article looks to me to be nothing more than mudslinging, I find it highly unlikely that the headteacher alone is responsible for the building or the planning application, it is I believe usual for the governors and the local authority (and possibly a whole string of others) to be involved in such decisions. Mr Coppin states that he 'had not seen a planning application' and also that he understood that 'a retrospective application had been submitted and he looked forward to scrutinizing it' Why on earth did he not do this before going to the paper?? As a parent of children who have been/are being superbly educated at St Petroc's school I wish them luck with this project and look forward to watching them 'care, share and grow together' with more pupils in sufficient classrooms.

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  • kingofkernow  |  September 28 2012, 8:09PM

    Within 10 years Bodmin is going to need at least 2 new primary schools to cope with all the offspring that the "benefit brigade". I will vote for any Political party that puts a cap on child benefits and stops flooding Bodmin with estates of social housing. It had too many when I was growing up in one in the 70's and 80's but at least most of the tenants were local, respectable and had a work ethic.

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  • kimmyp  |  September 28 2012, 10:56AM

    All very good, but, approval has been given for hundreds of new homes to be built on that side of town which points to St Petrocs' being the closest primary school and recommends it for expansion. I don't agree with building without permission or consultation but the only way to stop this thing from happening would be to remove the retrospective option. I am sure Mr Coppin as chairman of the planning committee is well aware that this is not the first or will it be the last development that takes advantage of retrospective planning laws.

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