South Lakeland school set to expand

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A LYTH Valley school described as ‘too small’ for its growing number of pupils is set to get more than a quarter of a million pounds to expand.

Crosthwaite CE School has been told that Cumbria County Council will cough up the cash to build a sports hall and new classroom next year.

The 54-pupil primary’s head count is expected to rise to 61 next year, in addition to up to ten more nursery children.

A temporary classroom was set up in the school’s yard while a more permanent solution to its lack of space was found.

Now, local councillors have told the Gazette they are confident CCC’s cabinet would formally back the scheme. The development would mean that children no longer have to eat their lunch at the same desks they do their school work at.

Matthew Jessop, Crosthwaite CE School head teacher, said: “I’m delighted to hear that it looks like they’re going to fund it. It will make a massive difference for teaching and learning and provide for children for years to come.

“We have growing pupils and we aren’t far off being full. The current building is not ideal; we have no school hall, which is a big, big thing. “Lunchtime is in the classroom, we use the village hall for PE and there’s nowhere to hold school worship.”

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Mr Jessop said the school’s kitchen would be relocated to the new hall and refurbished.Council education chiefs had previously told the school that, based on current pupil numbers and those expected to join in the future, its building was large enough.

But adamant campaigners continued lobbying the authority, claiming the need to introduce a temporary classroom and its lack of a sports hall meant it should be given resources to expand.

School governor and district councillor John Holmes said he had been told the council would award a grant of around £270,000 for the work.

Fundraisers have worked with architects to put together a scheme which community leaders have hailed as ‘vital’ for its future. Mr Holmes said: “The school really is too small for the number of children in it at the moment. The school has gone from strength-to-strength over the last few years and attracts children not only from Crosthwaite but adjacent villages and Kendal, from people all wanting a rural education for their children.”

Lyth Valley county councillor Jim Bland said the project would benefit the wider village, adding: “It’s vital for the school because they are really struggling for room. Numbers have gone up and they’re going up next year considerably.”

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said the project was included in the council’s draft capital programme and needed to be approved by cabinet in February.

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