Exciting plans unveiled for school expansion

November 29 2013

INNOVATIVE proposals to make the best use of an inner-city site for a primary academy have been submitted to Bristol City Council.

INNOVATIVE proposals to make the best use of an inner-city site for a primary academy have been submitted to Bristol City Council.

The £6m scheme for the Dolphin Primary School in Bath Buildings includes play areas and spaces for outdoor learning on the roof of the school, as well as a central courtyard playground.

Children will also use a woodland walk that links the primary to Colston's Girls' School and will share the grass pitches and multi-use games area at the secondary site.

The proposed buildings, three storeys high in places, are brick at the lower level and rendered above, and their design has strong green credentials.

The co-educational Dolphin Primary School opened last year in converted offices, and currently has 90 pupils. The council is purchasing the adjoining site used by engineering firm Fowlers – which is relocating – to allow the school to expand to provide much-needed places for 420 children aged four to 11. It is hoped work on clearing the site can start early next year so that the completed school can be open in September 2015.

Both academies, along with Kingfisher Primary School in St Anne's Park, are run by the Colston's Girls' School Trust.

Seven sites in the area, including Cheltenham Road library, were considered by the trust, but it was decided that Fowlers was the most suitable for the Dolphin School expansion because of its proximity to CGS.

The trust has adapted its plans for the development after listening to the concerns raised by neighbours and parents.

As well as increasing the amount of outdoor play space, it is addressing worries about school drop-off traffic causing congestion by working with council highways officers to create more access from Station Road. Once the school is open, parents will not be allowed to drop off children along Bath Buildings.

A spokesperson said: “The latest scheme proposes changing a section of the double yellow lines on Station Road to either single yellow lines or short stay waiting at the start and end of the school day.
"This would enable parents, carers and pupils to temporarily park and walk through the existing woodland walk and Montpelier Park to the new school entrance on Bath Buildings or, if they prefer, along Cheltenham Road. This should help prevent the need for parents to use Bath Buildings for vehicular access."

The trust has commissioned a detailed transport assessment, which has found that the school, like others in the inner city, will have a high proportion of pupils who walk to school.

Parents, staff and children will have to sign up to 'green travel' measures: car sharing, cycling or public transport for staff and walking buses and 'park and stride' schemes for pupils.

A travel plan will encourage staff and pupils to walk or cycle to school or to use public transport.

The trust is also looking at the existing catchment area for the Dolphin School.

A spokesperson said that when the school opened in 2012 boundaries had been set to help the council meet a specific, identified shortfall in primary places in certain postcodes and wards.

He said: “There is great demand currently and forecast in the area for a high quality primary school.

"We are engaging with council officers to understand the current local context, the population growth, demands on current schools and the planned expansion of local schools, and are informally meeting with representatives of the local community.

He added: "This will in turn inform our decision as regards the need for a formal proposal and consultation to change the admissions policy, which would take place in January 2014 if required."

Any changes agreed would come into force for children starting at the school from September 2015.

The Dolphin School had more than three applicants for each of the 60 places on offer for this academic year.

The school, like CGS, has a focus on languages, with children having regular French lessons. There is a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy, and on developing confidence in spoken English.

Plans for dolphin school expansion