Old buildings may be used to meet Tower Hamlets school shortage

Council buildings could soon be used for more primary school places to meet the growing shortage in London’s East End.

Two centres have been earmarked which are being discussed at tonight’s Tower Hamlets cabinet meeting.

The local authority wants to turn the Professional Development lifelong learning centre at Mile End over to primary schooling because of the shortage of places in the area.

Another site up for grabs is the present Bow Secondary when it is relocated elsewhere.

Mile End’s Grade II-listed Professional Development centre was originally a London School Board building in the early 20th century, but has been used for many years as a centre for teacher training and adult learning.

It is an ideal location because many families in the area can’t get their kids into nearby schools, Cabinet members will be told.

The centre would be an annex to Bethnal Green’s Bonner Primary two miles away which has been identified by Ofsted as outstanding. The ‘short cut’ measure means places could be ready by January.

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But the adult courses at the centre, mainly English as a second language, would have to be switched to the Bethnal Green centre by the end of the year.

Cabinet members were also being asked to consider the existing Bow Secondary for primary school use when it is relocated.

It is in an area of a growing school-age population where there are few opportunities for expanding existing places.

The council would have to rely on temporary or “bulging class” options in primary schools if decisions are not made in time, cabinet members are being warned.

Limited space would also mean such options “would not be sustainable to meet the rising need for places,” according to a cabinet report by the council’s children and schools director.

The council will have to make temporary arrangements if it doesn’t plan enough places at the right time, which could include using non-council buildings.

But such emergency measures “could be less effective for children’s education and not popular with parents,” the report says.

The East End’s 171,600 population is predicted to rise to nearly 200,000 by 2018.