A SCHOOL expansion has created an additional 210 places as well as providing space to help youngsters follow social distancing guidelines.

Merrylands Junior School, Cumberland Drive, Laindon has been boosted by four new classrooms, a design technology room and a studio in the development.

It was part of a £270million Essex County Council project to revamp schools in the county.

Jeff Henry, Tory councillor for Laindon Park, said: “I think any investment to improve education for our young people is a great thing.

“We are very short of places and this gives families more likelihood of getting their first choice of school.

“It does mean the school governors and parents need to work to ensure there’s no issues at picking up and dropping off times.

“I know there are already issues at this school with it being the train station.

“I also think it will help with social distancing and especially as the school has more space and will not have more children straight away.”

A school spokesman said: “We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to further expand our school.

“The spacious eco friendly classrooms are an asset to the school, as the new build is a welcoming teaching space where all pupils want to learn.”

The work was planned as part of a ten-year plan, originally launched in 2017 to create 22,000 new school places in Essex.

Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education, said: “We have an excellent track record of investing in new school places. As a result, we were able to maintain a high percentage of primary and secondary school pupils getting their parents’ preferred places for the latest academic year, which is an outstanding achievement in the current climate.

“Despite our successes, we recognise that the county is continuing to grow and a further 20,000 new school places will be needed in seven years.”

“In 2017 we set our targets and despite 2020 being a very challenging year, we remain committed to providing those school places and giving all children a high-quality education.”