School seeks permission for temporary five-year classrooms

“Cramped” classrooms at a Newport school, built to a century-old design, are now “virtually unusable” under social distancing regulations and could be combined into one.

Newport Girls' High School Academy
Newport Girls' High School Academy

Newport Girls’ High School Academy would like to knock two rooms – “by far the smallest teaching spaces in the school” – into one and convert a canteen into a new classroom, but does not have the funding available, its planning agent says.

So instead the 577-pupil school plans to build a two-room demountable annex on a hard section of play area at the north side, and has applied for five-year consent.

Newport Town Council will be consulted about the plans, and Telford & Wrekin Council’s planning department will make its decision at a later date.

A design statement, submitted by Paul Harries of Shrewsbury-based Baart Harries Newall Architects on behalf of governors’ chairman Edward Lewis, says: “The requirement has come about partly in response to the pandemic and partly due to the fact they have two very small existing classrooms that have now become difficult to utilise for teaching.”

The two classrooms, numbered 11 and 12, were part of the original 1920s construction.

Sitting to the right of the main entrance, one measures 30 square metres and the other 35.

Entrance

“The existing classrooms are both small by modern standards – by far the smallest teaching spaces in the school,” Dr Harries writes, adding the “most modern-day classrooms” have a 50 sq m minimum.

Blueprints submitted to the council show the proposed demountable classrooms each measuring just over 51sq m. They would also have a store cupboard each and a shared entrance lobby.

Dr Harries notes that the school has always found classrooms 11 and 12 “very cramped to hold a class”.

“However,” he adds, “given the situation with Covid and the consequent social distancing protocols these spaces have become at times virtually unusable.

“While at present social distancing requirements are being relaxed, there is still a strong possibility that there will be future restrictions, which would again render teaching spaces of this size obsolete.

“In the long term the school would look to solve the problem of the two inadequately-sized classrooms through internal modification. The small classrooms could be converted into one teaching space. The existing canteen, room number 18, could be converted into a teaching space.

“As the school does not have funds available for the above modifications at present, they are applying for temporary planning permission for a five-year period.”

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