Thursday, 21 April 2011

Primary School Temporary Classes - My full statement

The Wembley and Willesden Observer today publishes a short quote from me about the provision of temporary classes in Brent primary schools as a result of the shortage in school places. The quote was part of a longer statement which puts the issue into context. I reproduce the original full statement below. Only the last paragraph was published:
Brent Council is still running to stand still on the issue of providing additional primary school places - and even then not quite succeeding.  A long-term strategy involving a review of provision and demand across the borough seems just as far away as when I suggested it several years ago. The Council's capacity to devise such a strategy, including a consideration of the educational implications, is now limited by the staffing cuts it has had to make and the redundancies of many experienced senior personnel.

I was pleased to see officers' acknowledge that in the case of a possible expansion of the Capital City Academy into primary provision the impact on nearby Donnington Primary School would need to be considered. This was a principle  they failed to acknowledge in the proposals for primary provision at Preston Manor.

However I am concerned at possible future actions outlined in the Executive document which include: 
more all-through schools providing for children from 4-19 years, we need an informed public debate about the advantages and disadvantages of such schools; 
the possible expansion of primary schools into 5 forms of entry giving a primary school of more than 1,000 5-11 year olds. I think these are far too large and that young children need a smaller, 'family' style environment in which to feel safe and happy;
and an increase in class sizes above 30 in the junior phase (7-11). The maximum class size of 30 has been hard fought for and still compares poorly with the much smaller class sizes in the private sector. 
There is a real danger that in the absence of a 'champion' for the values of primary education within the Council,  that expansion will be just a matter of cramming increasing numbers into any available space, ignoring the impact on the quality of teaching and learning and children's vital first experience of school.

Martin Francis
Brent Green Party spokesperson on children and families

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