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Suffolk may need 25 new schools – but student numbers likely to fall

PUBLISHED: 16:41 31 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:42 31 October 2017

The Chantry Academy in Ipswich is one of Suffolk's newest schools. Will more follow in the years ahead? Picture: GREG BROWN

The Chantry Academy in Ipswich is one of Suffolk's newest schools. Will more follow in the years ahead? Picture: GREG BROWN

Another 25 schools may have to be built in Suffolk over the next 15 to 20 years to take account of population growth in some parts of the county.

Another 25 schools could need to have significant expansions – but overall the number of students in school is unlikely to increase significantly and could start to fall by the middle of the next decade.

The county council drew up plans to prepare for the need for more school places in 2014 and reviews these every year as development across Suffolk gets under way.

At present it expects there could be a need for new high schools on the Ipswich Garden Suburb on the northern fringe of the town and at Martlesham’s Adastral Park. It says there could also eventually be a need for a new high school in the Forest Heath district if the Mildenhall air base is redeveloped.

There will also be a need for more new primary schools across the county in areas where there is major development – including in Ipswich at Adastral Park and in some other communities.

But overall the school population is not expected to rise significantly. This year there are just under 56,000 primary school children in Suffolk and just over 36,000 in secondary schools. By 2024/25 there are projected to be less than 55,000 primary school children and just over 40,000 in secondary schools – but the numbers are expected to be falling.

Next Tuesday’s meeting of the county’s cabinet will discuss the updated report – but is not expected to take any dramatic action.

It says that much of the new investment in school places will have to come from developers as part of the conditions placed on the construction of new homes across the county.

The report says: “Unless realistic and appropriate levels of developer contributions can be secured to cover the costs of required infrastructure arising from the extensive housing development then the combination of reduced funding and increased demand creates a risk to the Council being able to provide sufficient school places.”

The report, officially a review of the county’s Education and Learning Infrastructure Plan is reviewed by the cabinet every year, to make sure it remains up to date with current planning applications and development plans.

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