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Preparations hot up for free school meals

Hundreds of schools are preparing to provide free school meals for every child aged four to seven.

But some councils say they haven't been given the money they need to upgrade kitchens - one says they are having to make up a shortfall of three million pounds to ensure pupils get a hot meal.

Several schools elsewhere say they'll only be able to offer sandwiches because they don't have the space or right facilities.

Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford reports.

Bournemouth needs extra 1,800 school places

Bournemouth council are meeting today as part of a discussion into finding nearly 2000 extra school places.

The new places are needed from September 2018 as a continued rise in pupil numbers is expected - due to both an increased birth rate and immigration.

The plan to increase secondary school places will be discussed by Bournemouth councillors to cater for the extra pupils.

Forecasts show that over time the increase in pupil numbers that we have seen at primary age will transfer to secondary and we are already working hard to put in place suitable measures to ensure that there are enough secondary school places in Bournemouth in the future.

We anticipate that around 1,800 extra school places across year groups 7 to 11 will be needed from 2018 and so it is important that we start early, working closely with the secondary academies and their governors to look at possible options to expand as well as seeking appropriate funding."

– Councillor Nicola Greene, Cabinet Member for Education and Children's Services

Kent schools still waiting for rebuilds

It's four years since the government scrapped a major programme to rebuild hundreds of schools. Some transferred to a replacement scheme, but for several in the region no plans have been drawn up - and they don't know when work will actually begin.

In total - 13 schools in poor condition are due to be rebuilt in Kent - they include Smarden Primary, Westlands Primary and Aylesham Primary.

Kent cabinet member for education, Cllr Roger Gough, says progress has been slow - and things would have progressed much more quickly if rebuilds had been organised locally.

The government though says work is ahead of schedule and all schools will be completed by 2017. Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford reports on the conditions some school are having to cope with while they wait.

Crumbling school buildings need urgent work

Four years after a major rebuilding programme was scrapped, schools in the South are still waiting for urgent work to begin.

Nine schools in our region have been accepted onto an alternative rebuild programme after being identified as a high priority. But many remain in a poor condition with no plans drawn up - and no idea when exactly work will begin. They include King Richard's in Portsmouth, Wyvern College in Salisbury and four on the Isle of Wight.

Of those, so far work has only started at The Cedar School in Southampton and Montacute Special School in Poole. The government says work is ahead of schedule and that all schools will be completed by 2017.

Montacute is now finally looking forward to a six million pound purpose-built building - they've been desperate for a new school for as long as 20 years. Their current buildings leak, there are cracks in the walls and pupils who use wheelchairs struggle to negotiate narrow corridors.

Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford spoke to headteacher Jill Owen and the school's Chair of Governors, Pam Henderson about their long wait.


Start date for building work at school "keeps moving on"

Four years since the government scrapped a major programme to rebuild hundreds of schools, and many still have no idea when work will begin. In total, 10 schools across the south which are in poor condition were earmarked for a re-build.

The Government says work is ahead of schedule and that all schools will be completed by 2017.

ITV Meridian spoke to head teacher of Bitterne Park School Susan Trigger.

Swindon teacher jailed for two years for abusing position

Thomas worked as a secondary school teacher in Wiltshire and systematically abused the position of trust he was in. Police say he preyed on vulnerable, underage children for his own sexual gratification.

The court heard that he groomed his victims and encouraged them to engage in sexual acts after gaining their confidence and trust. Thomas refused to take any responsibility for his actions and has forced his victims to relive their suffering and give evidence in court.

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