A SCHOOL where some pupils are forced to eat lunch in classrooms because the dining hall is too small has received funding to expand facilities.

Waltham Forest Council has agreed to meet the £325,000 cost of the new dining hall and kitchen at Thorpe Hall Primary School in Walthamstow after a campaign by pupils, teachers and parents.

The news came in a surprise announcement at a meeting of full council last night.

Head teacher Paulette Houghton said: "It's excellent news, I was so surprised to hear it. It means major improvements to the school can go ahead which will in turn improve pupils' lives."

Friends of Thorpe Hall Primary School chairman David Hoskins said: "It's amazing news. It's absolutely fantastic and it's such a boost for the school and for the whole community.

"It's a bolt from the blue and will allow the school to really flourish and drive forward. It will improve hygiene, happiness and the standard of education because we'll have more space for P.E. classes and after-school lessons."

Staff said the school desperately needed new facilities to cope with an extra form of entry taken on last year and 60 extra pupils in the next two years.

Last month the authority decided not to give the school a slice of £30 million of government funding for expansion projects.

It is believed the funds will come from the council's capital refurbishment programme, though the Guardian is expecting a full explanation today.

Parent governor Debbie Lewis said: "We're absolutely delighted, we're thrilled because we weren't expecting to hear anything until at least July. We're still waiting to hear the details about the funding from the council but it's a great surprise."

Local councillors Darshan Sunger, Sheree Rackham and Paul Braham were among those who petitioned the council to provide the funding.

Cllr Sunger said: "We're really happy for the children of the school who're now going to benefit. It goes to show what being patient and being persistent can do."

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