Busiest schools in Black Country and Staffordshire revealed with dozens of full or excess capacity

The Department for Education says the majority of pupils will still be offered their preferred schools this year

It comes as Department for Education data shows more than three dozen secondary schools in Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Walsall, Dudley and Staffordshire were full or overcapacity on May 1 last year.

In Dudley, the busiest secondary school was The Wordsley School Business & Enterprise & Music College, which had 755 places but 818 children enrolled, meaning it was eight per cent over capacity.

This was followed by Ellowes Hall Sports College at seven per cent overcapacity and Redhill School at five per cent.

The busiest secondary school in Wolverhampton was St Edmunds Catholic Academy, which had 896 places but 1,001 children enrolled, meaning it was 12% over capacity.

St Matthias School was the second busiest with 7% overcapacity and Coppice Performing Arts School at 2%.

At eight per cent overcapacity, Blue Coat Church of England Academy was the busiest secondary school in Walsall, followed by Streetly Academy (seven per cent) and Shire Oak Academy (four per cent).

Walsall Council says it has enough places in schools to meet current demands for places at secondary level.

A spokesman for the council added: “The growth in pupil numbers seen at primary level then moves to secondary level and is being closely monitored.

“The council is currently reviewing anticipated demand from 2023, including the possible development of a free secondary school with the Department of Education.”

In Sandwell, the busiest secondary school was Sandwell Academy, which was 5% over capacity, followed by Shireland Collegiate Academy (3%) and Bristnall Hall Academy (2%).

In Staffordshire, two secondary schools had 10% more capacity.

Staffordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Education, Jonathan Price, said: “Staffordshire is a large and diverse county, and demand for secondary school places varies from region to region. In areas of high demand, we work closely with schools to ensure that places are allocated fairly and, if necessary, can reasonably accommodate a small number of additional pupils without affecting the quality of education that the students receive.

“We also have an extensive school capital programme, which includes plans for two new secondary schools in Stafford and Rugeley, as well as the expansion of other schools in the areas of housing and population growth to ensure that it there are enough places in schools to meet future demand.”

The Education Policy Institute said overcrowding is increasing average class sizes – putting additional demands on teachers – and has implications for admissions.

But the Department for Education said the vast majority of pupils will be offered a place at one of their favorite schools this coming year.

A DfE spokeswoman added: “Pupils are also more likely to have a place in a good school now – with 87% of schools rated as good or exceptional now, up from 68% in 2010.”

It comes as more schools could be built in the Black Country and Staffordshire over the next few years to ensure there are enough school places to meet demand.

A series of schools are about to be built or are in the planning stage.

A notable school is on the former site of Rugeley Power Station in Staffordshire.

The free school, proposed to be built on the cleared site of Engie, should open its doors in September 2023 and eventually accommodate 1,400 pupils and a crèche.

The comprehensive school will be operated by the John Taylor Multi Academy Trust (JTMAT) and will be open to Kindergarten, Reception and Year 7 students in 2023.

It is part of Engie’s major development of 2,300 homes and up to 12.36 acres of employment space which has received planning approval.

Elsewhere, there could be a modern technology school planned for Wednesdayfield – Wednesdayfield Technology Primary School – which would see the disused Edward the Elder Primary and Nursery School on Lichfield Road demolished.

The building, which dates from 1910 but closed in 2007, is due to be demolished on May 12 to make way for the new school, run by the Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust.

The development drew a mixed reaction from former pupils who were left ‘very sad’ that another historic building was torn down in the area – but welcomed the move for a new school to help young people for the generations to come.

Meanwhile, Star Academies are reportedly looking to open a new school in Wolverhampton in 2024 as part of a £1billion plan first announced last year by the then Education Secretary , Sir Gavin Williamson.

Bosses revealed they have entered into discussions with the authority over a number of potential site options for the school, which will cater for the town’s 11 to 16-year-olds. The Lancashire-based chain has not revealed details of the sites under the microscope, although it is understood the former Sainsbury’s building in St George’s is under investigation. No date has been set for the opening of this school.

And a school twinned with the Symphony Orchestra is set to be built on the infamous Providence Place in Sandwell – sold at a loss to the council and previously branded “enormous mismanagement”.

Plans have been put forward to convert the building into a school run by the Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust and linked to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).

The Shireland CBSO Academy would accommodate around 870 students and will be the first non-fee school in the country to be sponsored by a world-class orchestra. Each child will have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, with lessons provided in partnership with Sandwell Music Service, as well as regular attendance at CBSO concerts at Symphony Hall.

It comes after a report last September found the council lost £22.5m of taxpayers’ money after selling 1 Providence Place to the Department for Education for just £8.46m sterling.

About Roy B. Westling

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