Friday, May 13, 1966

PARENTS have threatened to withdraw their children from school because of overcrowding that has seen as many as 90 children packed into a single classroom.

Four teachers at Radcliffe County Primary School, in Coronation Road, are to leave at the end of August, and anxious parents met this week to seek reassurances that replacements will be found.

After dropping their children at school on Monday morning, more than 30 mothers met at the home of Gladys Simms to organise a petition to send to the local authority.

Concerns were raised that overcrowding had been so bad during the 1964/65 year that class sizes had occasionally been as high as 80 or 90.

To stress the urgency of recruiting new staff, the parents resolved that they would be willing to keep their children out of school in a day of protest.

The Black Lane Owner-Occupiers' Association, which is campaigning for the provision of a new primary school in the Turks Road area, has agreed to support the protests.

Hubert Canner, divisional education officer, and the school's headmaster, Mr H Shakeshaft, quickly said that there would be no difficulty in finding new staff.

Mr Shakeshaft said that the claim that 90 children had been taught in one classroom for four months was untrue. The school was short-staffed for a month, he said, and teachers were brought in from outside to help.

It was also untrue that older children had taught the younger ones, he added.

However, both men agreed that the school is suffering from overcrowding, with the premises intended to accommodate 240 children instead of the present 286.

Mr Canner said: "The difficulty which arose in the 1964/65 year was fortuitous. These situations can arise from time to time but are only temporary. I am not sure this school has suffered any more than other schools from a shortage of teachers."

Mrs Simms, who has organised the campaign alongside Katharine Grundy, said: "I know that many mothers had been upset by the overcrowding at the school. Children need more attention than they can possibly get in a class of 47. I feel sorry for the teachers. They are marvellous and deserve double pay."