Get involved: Send pictures, video, news and views - text NEWS SHOPPER to 80360 or email us
Controversially expanding school 'to use Deptford Park as play area'
A controversial Deptford school expansion - which could see pupils use a neighbouring park as a play area - will go ahead, Lewisham's mayor has decided.
Sir Francis Drake Primary School is set to double from in size under the scheme, which is being put into action to cope with rocketing birth rates in the borough.
It will see a new school built on the current playground, with the possibility of part of Deptford Park being used as a sports facility at least temporarily. Once the new building is complete, pupils will move in and the old site will be demolished.
But petitions containing 357 signatures against the plan have been handed to the council and the school's board of directors have raised numerous concerns, including that the school's character will be completely changed and questioning an absence of detailed information.
Chair of governors Francis Jopp told the mayor and cabinet meeting on June 25: "This is a massive issue for current parents and current children."
He warned: "This scheme risks replacing a successful small school with a less successful large one."
Currently the school - rated Good by Ofsted - admits 30 reception pupils each year, but from September 2016 this is set to increase to 60 - doubling the number of overall pupils to 420 by 2022.
The council points out the school - which recently marked its building's 50th anniversary - is oversubscribed and lies in an area of high demand
Elsewhere in the borough, other schools have been enlarged, many with the help of temporary 'bulge' classes. But Sir Francis Drake will be an unusual case, being rebuilt with money from the government's Priority School Building Programme.
Newly-appointed cabinet member for children and young people Councillor Paul Maslin told the meeting: "We believe that this is the best proposal in the circumstances, those circumstances being the pressure that we have for places."
And he assured governors: "We have vast experience of doing this, not just in money and bricks and mortar, but on the human side. We've experience of supporting parents, who will of course have problems, talking them through the process and delivering a satisfactory rebuild."