Tuesday 31 January 2012

One Brent Primary to double in size and two others will expand

Brent Council is currently consulting on further changes in the size of primary schools as well as changes to the character of others.

Three primary schools are due to expand with Fryent Primary, in Church Lane, Kingsbury doubling in size. New children would be taken in year by year from January 2013 with the maximum size reached by September 2018:

Current 4-11
(R-Year 6)
Total 4-11
by Sept 2018
90 PT
54 PT
30 FT

The name of each school above is linked to the  appropriate consultation document. Consultation closes on February 15th 2012

I have argued here and in the local press that we should think very carefully before making such large primary schools. On the plus side there are economies of scale and the ability to employ a wide range of specialists and run a comprehensive  extended schools programme. However the negatives include the family atmosphere of a small school, the headteacher knowing families well, and children feeling safe and comfortable in a smaller unit. There are particular concerns about very young children and those with special education, emotional or behavioural needs. Additional numbers can also lead to the loss of playground and playing field space, school libraries and IT suites. School halls can no longer accommodate all the children in one inclusive assembly or school performance.

Building new one or two form entry primary schools is not proposed although this is an option favoured by many parents and teachers. Mention has been made of a possible new primary in Fulton Way, Wembley but no firm proposals have been put forward.

Brent Council is also consulting on a change of character for Alperton High School. The document can be accessed HERE Consultation closes on February 24th, 2012. It is proposed that Additional Resource Provision (ARP) for up to 20  school students with statements for Moderate Learning Difficulties should be opened at the lower school site in Ealing Road. The building would serve as their base but they would spend some time in the mainstream school. The provision would be for pupils with low incidence and complex needs some needs which are currently met in special school provision.

Brent Council is proposing to change the character of Vernon House Special School, Drury Way, London, NW10 0NQ, from a 30 place special school for pupils with Behaviour, Emotional, Social Difficulties (BESD) to a 35 place special school for pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD for those pupils capable of accessing the mainstream curriculum with specialist support) and Children with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (CLDD) from September 2012. They claim that the change to a broader designation will increase the flexibility of the school to admit pupils with a broader range of associated needs.

The school in January 2012 had only 14 pupils on roll and in 2010-11 had an occupancy rate of 45-60%. At the same time there has been an increase in the demand for special school places for children on the autistic spectrum. There is likely to be a debate about whether such children might better benefit being in a mainstream setting with support. The consultation closed on February 24th 2012 LINK

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