SO here is the dilemma.

Colchester is bursting at the seams.

Schools are full. GP surgeries and the hospital are under siege. Roads are car parks.

But Colchester is a popular town to live and work, which means more people want to move here.

And one of the main lures is the quality of education, but there is no more room for students in the town’s secondary schools.

In the long run, the former Alderman Blaxill School site in Shrub End will be used for a free school.

But that is years away and secondary school students need a place to study now.

One solution is expanding schools and both Stanway and Philip Morant schools are set to take hundreds more students.

Work is about to start on the £6.9million expansion at Stanway School. The outdated Gainsborough block, which is more than 50 years old and considered unfit for modern educational purposes, will be demolished and replaced with a new arts and music building.

A new science wing is to be built, there will be an extension to the school kitchens. One of the existing football pitches will be replaced with a multi-use games area.

Co-headteacher Jonathan Bland said the revamp was being divided into three phases with the first two starting on Monday.

He said: “Project one is an extension of the current building which will be design and technology rooms on the bottom floor and on the top floor an extension of the science rooms. It is just following the floors out and giving extra room.

“In addition we will have a new food outlet area and a new courtyard area with a roof and a glass front so the pupils are always warm and dry."

The space will also be suitable for other uses such as assemblies.

Mr Bland said: “Project two starts on the same day. That is to create a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA), a turf use football pitch, full-sized and approved by the FA and Sport England to take up part of our existing football space.

“It will be in an area we can use all year round rather than using the field only in the dry months of the year.

“I think the students are really looking forward to it.”

The third project is due to start in June and will involve the creation of the much-anticipated arts and music block.

The Gainsborough block will be demolished in February to make way for it.

Mr Bland admitted the school was excited to see its demolition because it is what he described as an eyesore.

He added: “It will give us space inside the current block to have more classrooms for standard classes such as maths and English because we are moving the arts and music into this other block.”

The extensions are being funded by Essex County Council.

The school has about 1,160 students and will take an extra 60 a year from next September.

Much of the school was redesigned in 2005, but the changes will see some of the final buildings to be modernised since the school first opened about 60 years ago.

Mr Bland added: “We are excited about what it is going to look like.”