MORE than £600,000 is set to be approved to carry out development work at a Poole secondary school to prevent it from reducing its pupil admissions by a third.

The current situation at St Aldhelm’s Academy in Herbert Avenue is “unsustainable”, with a lack of teaching spaces to meet the annual admission number of 180 pupils.

A BCP Council cabinet report says the school currently has between 723 and 804 workplaces for children.

To operate at its published admissions number (PAN) of 180, Ambitions Academy Trust, which oversees the school, said it needs overall space for 900. Council chiefs are set to sign off on £610,000 for a five-classroom building in time for September 2021.

A report by schools portfolio holder Cllr Nicola Greene, pictured right, said: “Following a significant investment in the school infrastructure by the Department for Education (DfE) to support a change of Academy sponsor and to drive improvement, the school buildings are fit for purpose but will not support 180 pupils in all year groups.

“Delegated Powers were used to agree an investment of £390k in May 2020 that enabled additional capacity to be created to allow 180 pupils to be admitted in September 2020.

“A further investment of £610k is now required to allow the PAN of 180 to be maintained permanently.”

If approved, the funding will come from the DfE Basic Needs capital grant. The report says forecasts show pressure on secondary school places across BCP for at least the next three years.

The new building would feature five classrooms, a small office, a toilet block, a stair well and an entrance foyer and access.

Members of the overview and scrutiny committee are set to consider the plans on January 4 before they are presented to cabinet on January 14.

“We are facing an increased demand on secondary school places over the next three years across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole,” said Cllr Greene.

“St Aldhelm’s has increased in popularity and is currently full to capacity. If we do nothing, we would have to reduce the number of school places for admission in 2021 and this would also put additional pressure on other schools in the area.

“We have a duty to provide enough school places across the area and the proposal sets out a solution which would mean the school could continue to meet the demand anticipated for the future and provide enough space and modern facilities to support the expansion.”