Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Urgent short-term solutions put forward for school places crisis

Children out of school - click image to enlarge  
The Brent Executive will be considering further expansions of primary schools at their meeting on April11th and the report they will consider contains an unprecedented delegation of decision making on sums above £1m to the Director of Regeneration and Major Projects due to the urgency of the situation.

The map above shows the distribution of need for September 2011, although an important caveat is that the smiley faces do not indicate a 1 to 1 relationship and that positioning is only approximate.  The actual numbers for March 2011 are in the last two columns below
Click on image to enlarge
Regular readers will know that I have long been pressing for a borough-wide long-term strategy to address the problem rather than the ad-hoc approach of the last few years. The report says the council is developing a four year medium-term strategy which should be presented in the next two months, but this will not be in time for the September 2011-August 2012 school year. They say there are several options being considered to increase capacity without compromising educational outcomes.

These include:
  • All-through schools (5-19 yr olds) - no educational discussion has yet take place on this despite the council's approval of Preston Manor's conversion into an all-through school and ARK's development into an all-through school.
  • Five form entry primary schools (which would give a primary school of 1,050 pupils - larger than many secondary schools in the rest of the country)
  • Larger classes with 'qualifying measures' to take account og legislation. This will ring alarm bells for headteachers, teachers and parents.
Such measures would require a thorough-going public educational debate - not one just based on the urgency of the school places crisis.

As an interim measure the report puts forward plans to expand eight schools on a temporary basis.  'Bulge' classes are an additional class added to a school on a one-off basis. It progresses through the school as an additional class of usually 30 children in that particular cohort and suitable accommodation has to be found as the children get older. In contrast a one form entry expansion eventually requires space for 7 classes of 30.

After assessing the risks attached to the possible expansion of 14 schools, including Capital City Academy and Wembley High taking primary classes, the report lists eight schools which it intends to temporarily expand:
Click  on image to enlarge

No comments: