Sunday 19 May 2013

More Brent schools to expand as Gove restricts new LA school builds

Michael Gove receives a vote of 'No Confidence' from headteachers but at the same time his Tory leadership bid, launched last weekend regarding Europe, seems to be going well. The New Statesman this week carries an article suggesting a Tory leadership combination of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove ('BO-GO'). Enough to give you nightmares.

But the nightmare is already with us because Gove's policies are wreaking havoc. Most obvious at the moment is the ludicrous requirement that any new school must be academy or free school - despite the latter being mainly set up in places with a current surplus of places. Local authorities such as Brent are denied the opportunity to rationally plan new local authority schools in areas where there is a shortage.Instead they have to wait for the market to provide and meanwhile add extra classes to existing schools, or even annexes or 'satellites' to escape government restrictions. Boris adds his tuppenyworth by ear-marking any surplus GLA buildings for possible use as free schools.

Some primary schools are increasing in size to more that 1,000 5-11 year olds, an issue that I have raised several times on Wembley Matters and taken up on Saturday by the Guardian(1,000 pupils and rising - primary schools go supersize LINK )My view is that these are just too big to provide the care and contact that young children need but others think that given the right internal arrangements and ethos these difficulties can be overcome.

Meanwhile the new Brent Executive will tomorrow consider the latest report on primary school expansion which will be presented my Michael Pavey, the new lead member for children and families, and himself Chair of Governors at one of Brent's largest primary schools, the four form entry Wembley Primary.

Some schools have already doubled in size to cope with the shortage and in some cases have lost valuable play space or halls, music rooms or IT suites.  The report LINK includes for 2013-14 the following possibilities:
  • 7 primary classes housed in modules at Kingsbury High with the children eventually transferring to Kingsbury Green Primary when it expands. 
  • 15 primary classes at the Centre for Staff Development (Gwenneth Rickus Building) in Brentfield Road ) next to the Swaminarayan Independent School. This building will be vacated when the few staff that remain transfer to the Civic Centre. Originally it was ear-marked for secondary places but the required building money is not available.Both Mitchell Brook and Brentfield primary schools are close by but I have heard it may become a satellite of Leopold Primary in Harlesden.
  • Use of temporary classrooms previously used by Preston Manor and Brentfield schools and creation of more 'bulge classes' - one off additions to a school rather than a change in the numbers of forms of entry.
There are schemes suggested to provide full new capacity by September 2014 at:
  • Wembley High School - a new building providing a 4 form of entry (840 children) primary school making Wembley an 'all-through' school along with Ark and Preston Manor.
  • Uxendon Primary - an additional 2 forms of entry (420  children)
  • Harlesden Primary - an additional 2 forms of entry (420 children)
  • Preston Park, Princess Frederica and St Joseph Primary will all add 1 for of entry (210 children)
  • Vicar's Green in Ealing but serving many Brent children will add 0.5 forms of entry (105 children)
These schemes would provide new capacity between September 2015:
  • Elsley Primary - an additional 2 forms of entry (420 children)
  • Stonebridge Primarary - an additional 1 form of entry (210 chilren)
  • Malorees Infant and Junior - an additional 1 or 2 forms of entry (210-420 children)
  • Oriental City Primary - 2 forms of entry (dependent on Section 106 agreement - not clear re governance)
Other longer term sites in case the need continues have been identified.  These include the Wembley Quintain site for a 2 form entry primary school (420 children), Our Lady of Lourdes (Stonebridge) additional 2 forms of entry (420 children), John Keble and St Francis and St Andrew additional 1 form of entry (210 children) each.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does the above mentioned Brent Executive that makes decsions on school expansion have permananet members? Does any one know who they are and if political interestes are getting in the way of good sense? Thank you