Benthal Primary School saved: Hackney Council hastily downscales school building programme as demand falls for places

Benthal School

Benthal School - Credit: Archant

Hackney’s flagship school building programme has been partially scrapped, as the council announced it will not build a new secondary school on the site of Benthal Primary.

Two years ago the council insisted complex plans – which would have seen seven schools variously created, displaced or rebuilt – were as vital to respond to demand for secondary places.

But now it has confirmed demographic data no longer indicates the need for an extra 1,260 primary school places and 1,650 secondary school places.

Pupils at Benthal School in Benthal Road, Stoke Newington, who were due to move to a new school on the site of Nightingale Primary in 2020 will now stay put.

And a new secondary school earmarked for the site will not now go ahead.

An overjoyed parent said: “These plans would have seen pupils taught in temporary accommodation for over two years, before moving to a new site shared with residential accommodation and losing the wonderful outdoor space which is a key part a part of Benthal’s unique offer.” Pupils from Nightingale in Rendlesham Road, Lower Clapton, will still move to the site of the former Downsview School in Tiger Way after Christmas when it will convert to a two-form entry school. However, the school was not even full as a single-form entry school earlier this year.

Opponents of City of London Shoreditch Academy – the second new secondary school said to be necessary, which will be built on the Britannia Leisure Centre site – are up in arms, complaining it was never necessary.

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Deputy mayor Cllr Anntoinette Bramble said: “Having carefully monitored data, including birth rates, the number of people moving into the borough, and the number of children on our primary schools’ roll, we have concluded that while the permanent site for the new Shoreditch Park Secondary School is much needed as the school is already over-subscribed, we do not need a second secondary school at this time. If the need arises in the future, we will reconsider the proposals.

“For over a decade, we saw a steady increase in the number of school places needed in Hackney, and it was widely predicted this would continue.

“However, in the last 18 months there has been an unexpected slowing down in the pace of the increase in school places across London, so that plans for our new school have been reassessed.”