Parents Object To Primary School Expansion
A group of parents at Grove Park Primary express concerns
A group of parents in Grove Park Primary School have challenged potential plans to expand the school which they claim could mean it doubling in size over the next seven years.
Grove Park Primary, a one-form entry school, was one of three local primary schools chosen by Hounslow Council last April to create an extra, or ‘bulge’ reception class, to cope with increasing demand for school places.
The music room will now be used as a classroom
At the moment there is also a consultation in progress to discuss whether the school will be chosen to expand but the parents' group says many people are unhappy about any proposal for the school to become larger.
They say if an extra reception class was taken every year, the school would almost double in size from its current 220 pupils within seven years and this would be detrimental for the school.
Amongst their objections is that Grove Park Primary will lose its ‘community feel’, that it will create road and safety hazards with extra school traffic, and that the birthrate in Grove Park, (at between 0-15%) does not suggest there is a demand in the local area. Building work would be disruptive for years. They are also complaining that children at the school are losing their 'Rainbow' music room to cater for the ‘ bulge’ class of 30 pupils from next September.
The parents say they intend to make their views known to Hounslow Council, the LEA, and local councillors before the consultation deadline of July 20th and they have called on other parents to support their campaign against potential expansion. They are circulating a letter to all the parents this week.
One parent told ChiswickW4.com; “I haven't spoken to one parent who wants this to go ahead - the birthrate for Grove Park is less than 15% compared to 50% in other areas of Hounslow and there are other schools which have more space and which could expand more easily in Chiswick.
“We understand that it’s a logistically a nightmare for the LEA to find places for everyone but they haven’t thought this through. Losing the music room is something we couldn’t do anything about but the expansion is something we can make our views known on. A local official has admitted the school would be available for the whole of Chiswick since catchment areas were abolished. This would have extra traffic and road safety implications.
“If we really believed the need to expand was there locally we would accept. We don’t accept the need is there in Grove Park. The consultation ends on July 20th and the Council will vote on whether to take it to the next stage in September, with a final decision for December." she said.
The head teacher of Grove Park Primary, Mr. Alex Cornelius commented; "I think it is important at this stage to stress that we are still going through the process of an informal consultation and no decision has been made as to whether the school can or will expand.”
He said there were also many benefits to be gained from expansion. Responding to the claims that the children were losing their music room because of the extra reception class, he said the reception ' bulge' class would not be moving into that Rainbow room. It would be for another class from the junior school.
“We are committed to ensuring that our recent drive for music excellence will not be affected by the bulge class or possible changes in the future.”
The full text of the head teacher's letter to the parents can be read on Chiswick W4.com.
Hounslow Council agreed last April to spend £16 million on schools across the borough, creating an additional 600 school places this year. Both Hounslow and Ealing Councils have been under pressure in the past few years, mainly due to the increasing birth-rate, and extra demand for state schools.
From September 2012, William Hogarth School, Grove Park Primary and Southfield School will all get 30 places extra for the next entry-level which will enable them to create an extra reception class.
A Council spokesman said; “In recent years we have seen a growing increase in the number of children born in the area who then need to be able to go to school. Other factors affecting the number of children in the borough come into play too, yet the birth rate is the major influence and means we are having to increase the number of school places. We are doing this through the expansion of existing schools and we are also looking at building new schools.
“For now, we need to create at least another 600 school places for September 2012 and we are very grateful to those schools working with us to be able to provide much needed school places for children.
“This increase in places is here to stay and that is why we are also consulting on permanently expanding schools. What we are aiming to do is to increase permanently the number of school places so that parents of very young children can see that we are creating school places into the future for them.
“An expansion to a school will almost always involve building work and parents will have concerns about the disruption this may bring. We aim to minimise this and we see that for some schools the work can offer great benefit.
“We are consulting local people on our proposals so we get their thoughts about how we can create school places for children now and into the future.”
July 11, 2012