Classroom plan put on hold for summer amid new concerns

A lesson at the newly formed Oasis Academy Silvertown

A lesson at the newly formed Oasis Academy Silvertown - Credit: Archant

Delays in the planning process mean plans for additional space for 450 pupils and 50 staff at Oasis Academy Silvertown before the start of the new academic year.

The academy is temporarily situated in Rymill Street and the plan was to increase classroom capacity before a move to a new permanent home in the old fire station in North Woolwich Road in 2020.

However the council’s Strategic Development Committee has delayed a decision until September, arguing the rapidly increasing size of the school could have an adverse effect on the surrounding area.

The committee also expressed concerns over the suitability of the temporary structure for lessons and has invited a revised application to demonstrate the viability of the plans. The proposals for the temporary structure, which can be viewed on the council’s website, had no formal objections lodged.

Oasis Academy Silvertown was rated as ‘good’ with ‘outstanding’ leadership by Ofsted in May and the school is confident itcan mitigate any negative impact on teaching.

John Murphy, CEO of Oasis Community Learning, has written an open letter to Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales criticising the delay, expressing ‘strong objection and disappointment’ to the ruling, which he says will ‘make the obstacles posed to the staff and students by the buildings more challenging’.

Johanna Thompson, principal of Oasis Academy Silvertown, said: “This is a decision that is of course the committee’s to make, and we would really appreciate their backing to achieve this before the autumn term. We work extremely hard to ensure we make the best possible use of the classrooms we have, but people will understand the additional space will benefit the students. We have terrific young people and staff who have readily overcome the challenges that being in temporary accommodation brings, and I know they will continue to do so.”

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A Newham council spokesperson said: “The committee acknowledged the high standards of education provided by the academy in the temporary buildings, applauding Johanna Thompson. They also raised concerns around the increase in pupil numbers on the already constrained site and the impact of 500 people on the local area and residents, albeit for three years.”

A separate planning application tabled by the school, proposing to increase the number of pupils from 230 to 270 and extend their use of the temporary site to September 2020, was approved.