How should the growing school places crisis in Ipswich be solved?

Some parents in Ipswich continued to struggle to get their children into preferred secondary schools

Some parents in Ipswich continued to struggle to get their children into preferred secondary schools this year. - Credit: PA

As council chiefs step up plans to build two new schools in Ipswich amid soaring demand for places, we are asking our readers for your thoughts on how the growing school places crisis should be solved.

Answer our poll and comment below to provide your thoughts.

This newspaper exclusively revealed last week that just under 300 parents were denied a place at their preferred secondary school for their child this September.

Northgate, Copleston, St Albans and Kesgrave high schools were full and were forced to turn parents away. Headteachers warned this was the last year they could add extra Year 7 classes.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer revealed he was meeting “council developers” at two separate sites for a proposed primary school and a “big” secondary school in the town on Friday.

Further details were not disclosed. It is not clear if the plans are linked to the Ipswich Garden Suburb development on the northern fringe of the town.

Last night, Gordon Jones, cabinet member for education at Suffolk County Council (SCC), said: “We are working closely with schools and partners in Ipswich to maximise capacity.

“We have recently held a meeting with headteachers in the area to look at current demand across the town and look at possible solutions.

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“We also met with representatives from Ipswich Borough Council (last Friday) to accelerate development of new school provision to meet the growing needs of students in the Ipswich area.

“We are in a climate of parental preference which means that popular schools are regularly oversubscribed, with students travelling further to reach them.

“Despite this, this year all students who applied for their catchment community or voluntary aided school have received an offer in their preferred school and we have been able to offer more than 97% of students across the county one of their preferred school places, which marks a three- year high.”

Talks remain ongoing to build a free school, a primary school, at the former Co-op department store in Carr Street.

Labour’s SCC education spokesman, Sonia Barker, said: “Schools with the best GCSE results in populated areas will also have the greatest demand for places and will do their best to accommodate as many as possible, but there is a limit to how many places they can reasonably offer without affecting the education of the children in each class.”