Plans are in the pipeline for another secondary school in Wisbech - and also looking at sites in March

Quaker Lane/Meadowgate Lane speeding concerns....Meadowgate School

Quaker Lane/Meadowgate Lane speeding concerns....Meadowgate School - Credit: Archant

A new secondary school is being planned for Wisbech at a cost of £23m to cope with an expected rise in pupil numbers from new homes and immigration.

Plans are in the pipeline to develop a parcel of land next to Meadowgate school in a move that has won the backing of officers at Cambridgeshire County Council.

Secondary school education across Fenland has been reviewed highlighting the need for a second Wisbech school and the need to find potential sites for a second in March if pupil numbers soar between now and the end of the local plan period in 2031.

There is “no immediate pressure” on secondary schools in Whittlesey and Chatteris, according to a report.

Adrian Loades, executive director of the county’s children, families and adults services, said: “The population of the district has grown by 13.9 per cent to 95,300 since 2001.

“Secondary education needs to develop pupils’ skills and qualifications that meet employer needs and fill the gaps- any development should not just be about qualifications but about a curriculum that promotes work readiness, work experience placements, exhorts the value of the vocational as much as the academic.

“Real links with employers need to be established and employers involved in curriculum planning.

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“Around 15 per cent of Fenland’s residents are self employed entrepreneurial and business skills could be developed.”

Pupil numbers are expected to rise dramatically in the next 15 years, especially in Wisbech, which is set for a township of 11,000 new homes.

Also set to increase is the number of Eastern European students in Fenland where figures show in seven years it has gone from 357 pupils (aged four to 17 years old) in 2008 to 1,526 in 2015 - an increase of 265 per cent.

That figure is expected to increase to 2,770 by 2020.

“The demographic data alone suggests a strong growth in the demand for secondary school places,” Mr Loades said.

“However, long term pupils forecasts are subject to a wider range of error than short term ones.

“Wisbech also experiences the greatest out of county migration of secondary school pupils.”

A total of 110 Thomas Clarkson Academy catchment 11 year olds travel to schools in Lincolnshire (66), Norfolk (41) and Peterborough (3) and the academy is top of the list in Fenland’s four academy’s which offers the most spare pupil capacity in the district.

Councillors will be recommended to agree to look at sites for a Wisbech school and identify March sites during a meeting of the Cambridgeshire County Council children and young people committee on Tuesday February 9.