Residents also complained that the timing of the meeting, from 5pm-6pm, meant that the majority of residents in employment, were unable to attend so had been denied their democratic rights.
Another issue was a statement from the Authority that 'In the immediate local area of Preston Manor High School 72 Reception aged children' remain without a school place. When I sought clarity on what 'immediate area' meant I was told this was the whole of HA9 and HAO, a huge area compared with the common-sense assumption that 'immediate area' suggests the streets immediately around the school. It became clear that pupils attending the school would be coming some considerable distance, raising concerns that traffic levels would increase at the same time as the ARK academy's gradual growth will produce additional congestion in the vicinity. This is a copy of the Authority's map showing where reception pupils are unplaced. It is clear that there is a cluster in the Wembley Central area as well as several south of the North Circular:
When I asked what plans had been made for a primary school on the Quintain development site around Wembley Stadium, where the next phase includes the building of 1,300 new homes, I was told that Section 106 money which could be used for a new school, would only be drawn down after the housing was built. Surely this will create a further school places crisis until the new school is completed? Overall Brent's approach seems to be 'flying by the seat of our pants' when what we need is a strategic school places 'master plan'.
At the conclusion of the meeting the Chair of Preston Manor Governors said that the governors had not yet made up their minds on the expansion proposal and welcomed representations to aid their deliberations.
There was no time to discuss educational issues but hopefully there will be time to explore these at the Wembley Area Consultative Forum on Wednesday 20th October at the Patidar Centre, 22 London Road, Wembley. The meeting starts at 7pm and the Expansion of Preston Manor Consultation is timed for 7.35. However only 30 minutes is scheduled for this item and discussion on parking charges and Wembley Link.
Among the educational questions that need to be answered are:
1. Is the proposal for an 'all through school' as stated in the consultation document (i.e. one school, under one leadership, perhaps with separate heads of the primary and secondary departments) or a 'feeder primary school' as stated in the glossy consultation leaflet given out at Wednesday's meeting? A feeder would be a separate school with its own headteacher.
2. What system of governance is envisaged? Separate governing bodies for the primary and secondary schools or one governing body?
2. If it is to be an 'all through' school what are the educational arguments for such a structures?
3. As the ARK Academy is already an all-through school and Capital City is applying for primary provision, is this emerging as the de facto favoured development option of the Authority? If so an open debate is needed on the policy.
4. What repercussions would there for local primary schools of such a policy?
5. What would be the catchment area of the new school and how would this affect the catchments of neighbouring primary schools such as Preston Park and Chalkhill?
6. Would the primary school pupils receive preferential treatment for entry to the secondary school? If so this would reduce the places available to pupils from other primary schools by a quarter.
7. As the secondary school is popular and over-subscribed, canny parents would enrol their children into the primary school in order to secure a secondary school place. What would be the knock-on impact on other local primary schools both in terms of their rolls and social make up?
Consultation document is HERE. Closing date October 25th. If the governors of Preston Manor decide to go ahead on the basis of this consultation, there will be a further 6 week statutory consultation period.