Up to £13 million is to be invested in expanding a Hereford high school to cope with future demand.

The funding will reverse a declining trend at Aylestone School, in the north-east of the city, which currently has room for 450 pupils, down from 1,250 20 years ago.

This was reduced to 900 in 2003, to 750 in 2010, and to its current figure in 2017, during which time the neighbouring Broadlands Primary School has taken up some of the vacated space.

The proposal now before senior councillors is to work to bring the school role back up to 750 pupils, or 150 per year group, which will require additional accommodation, and to make the school easier to reach on foot and by bike.


The school’s trustees and headteacher have been involved in developing the plans and are supportive of them, according to a report prepared for next Thursday’s Herefordshire Council cabinet meeting which is likely to confirm they can go ahead.

But it notes that Aylestone Hill’s ward councillor Ange Tyler, who is cabinet member for housing and community, is “not supportive of the proposal to increase capacity at Aylestone without further exploring the barriers preventing the expansion of Whitecross High School”.

The council had considered the alternative options investing instead in either Whitecross or Kingstone high schools, the report explains.

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But though the neighbouring Whitecross “would be our preferred option”, expanding the school would raise the annual charge that the council pays under an existing private finance initiative (PFI) deal with the school to an unaffordable level, the council said.

And Kingstone, seven miles west of Hereford, is already able to cope with immediate pupil numbers, and expanding it “would result in transporting learners from the city to the Golden Valley and therefore would not align with the council’s commitment to climate change”, the council’s report explained.

Herefordshire Council has around £6.5 million of unspent grant money from the Department for Education for expanding pupil provision, and has been told it will receive a further £9.5 million over the next three years for this, some of which will be used to fund the Aylestone project.

Published timescales show the bulk of the spending happening after the 2024/25 financial year.

The council's cabinet is also expected to back a further £7.5 million programme of maintenance and accessibility improvements to the county’s schools, mostly in the coming financial year, and funded by a mixture of government grant and borrowing.

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