People are being invited to have their say on proposals for an £8.2m state-of-the-art primary school in Bowburn.

Durham County Council has begun consultation on plans which would see Bowburn Infant and Nursery and Bowburn Junior Schools become a single establishment, on a new site.

The facility would have capacity for 540 children aged four to eleven and a 52 place nursery unit, and would be built on the current junior school playing field.

The proposals are in line with moves by the council to bring junior and infant schools together where appropriate so children can enjoy the benefits of primary education without having to change sites at age seven.

Amalgamating the schools would also create a more viable educational site.

The council has come up with the proposals in recognition of the significant growth Bowburn has and continues to experience as a result of housing development which is putting pressure on school places.

Figures show pupil numbers at the two schools are expected to rise year-on-year, from the combined 318 this financial year to a combined 410 – potentially rising to 475 – by 2029/30.

However, the junior school building cannot easily be expanded to cope with this rise in numbers and is also in a poor state of repair.

The new facility would cater for the growth in number of children at Bowburn to 2029/30 and beyond.

Consultation on the proposed amalgamation runs until 12 November with people able to have their say by writing to the School Places and Admissions Team, Children and Young People’s Services, Business Reply Service, Licence No DU63 (Freepost), Durham County Council, County Hall, Durham, DH1 5BR.

Comments can also be emailed to schoolorganisation@durham.gov.uk or submitted online at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GLM8JZH

An information session is also being held on Wednesday 18 October at 6pm at Bowburn Community Centre, at which council officers will be on hand to answer questions and take comments.

All responses to the consultation will be considered and included in a report which will be presented to councillors. Should they agree to proceed, statutory notices would be published giving people a further opportunity to comment later this year.

The council’s Cabinet would then consider responses to the statutory notices and make a final decision in February 2018.

Should the proposals be agreed, the new school would open in September 2019.

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, the council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “We are proposing a significant investment in the education of children in Bowburn, with a new build fit for the delivery of a first class curriculum for the 21st century.

“The infant and junior schools have both been rated ‘good’ by Ofsted and already work together closely. We firmly believe that a joining of their leaderships and the removal of the change between the sites at age seven can only enhance the already strong rates of learning and progress.

“We encourage anyone with an interest in education at Bowburn to make their views known during the consultation – all comments will be taken on board.”

Further information on the proposals can be found at www.durham.gov.uk/bowburnschoolsconsultation

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