17/10/2014 06:41 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

School Buys Old Bus On EBay To Ease Overcrowded Classrooms

North News

A primary school has bought an old double-decker bus on Ebay to ease pressure on its overcrowded classrooms.

Central First School, in Ashington, Northumberland, bought the bus for £5,000 on the auction site and then spent a further £3,000 to convert it into a classroom - complete with internet, electricity and central heating (although pupils still have to go into the main school to go to the toilet).

The upstairs level of the bus has room for 15-20 kids, while smaller speech and language therapy sessions, of no more than four children, take place downstairs.

The innovation is a massive saving on the 'astronomical' £150,000 it would cost to expand the main school building.

School prinicipal David Godfrey described the project as a 'needs-led idea' to help pupils, many of whom are from the most deprived backgrounds, with literacy, numeracy and speech therapy.

He told BBC Radio 5Live that they had reached the end of the line with the school's original building, with toilets and cupboards already converted into teaching space.

Under the government's pupil premium scheme, primary school pupils receive an extra £1,300 for each pupil that is on free school meals, to pay for extra help with reading and writing.

But Mr Godfrey said that the school, which teaches children aged three to nine, was struggling to find extra room to teach the extra sessions, which are taught to pupils in small groups.

Mr Godfrey added: "I'm quite a big fan of some of the TV programmes out there, Amazing Spaces [on Channel 4], those kinds of things. People have been really quite innovative with their use of space.

"I've got quite a creative team of people around me.

"We just thought ... you get double your money with a double-decker bus. We looked at a new at a build [but] costs are astronomical for a new-build, particularly for education purposes."

Mr Godfrey said Portacabins would also have cost tens of thousands of pounds and by contrast, the bus was 'an absolute snip' and was proving popular with pupils.

In August, a report published by the Local Government Association said that schools were being forced to put playgrounds on roofs, and convert gyms into temporary classrooms because local authorities were not getting enough funding to expand to keep up with increasing pupil numbers.