Tuesday 11 July 2017

Figures put need for new Ark primary academy in doubt

Consultation takes place Thursday morning and evening at Ark Wembley on their plans for a new 630 pupil primary school at the junction of Empire Way and the Royal Route LINK

New light is thrown on the proposal by figures obtained by FoI request for the number of vacancies in Reception for September 2017.

The figures show that some of the recently expanded schools are not filling up. A number of these expansions have involved controversy including Stonebridge (closure of the adventure playground) and Byron Court (vociferous opposition from residents).

The figures in the final waiting list column represent children who will have a school place in Septepmber but not their parents' first choice. Parents will waiting for a vacancy to arise to place them in the school of their choice, perhaps to join siblings or because it is more convenient for transport. Children can be on several waiting lists so the figures are of limited value.

When a school has vacant spaces and no waiting list the parents of children moving into the borough between now and September will be offered places there, which may involve a journey across the borough.

When children settle into a school, albeit not their first choice, make friends and settle into the routine, the parents desire for transfer is sometimes reduced: 'She is doing well, I dont think I want to move her now'

The 'churn' of pupils moving between schools creates instability and affects progress and achievement.  A new school could have a destabilising effect on other esrtablished local schools.

A considerable amount of money has been invested in the expansion of schools. If they are not filling up the additional places then there is a question of value for money.

School places planning and school expansion seems a ripe topic for s Scrutiny Committeee investigation.


Philip Grant said...

I am sure that residents in the Sudbury Court area will be interested to see that the increase to five form entry at Byron Court Primary School has left the school under-subscribed by 1.5 forms at reception level for September 2017.

The Leadership at Brent Council forced through its proposals for the Byron Court expansion despite very good evidence from local people, supported by Cllr. Perrin, that transport access to the school's site, in the middle of a "garden village" Conservation Area, could not cope with the extra numbers of pupils proposed.

It appears that Brent parents, applying for school places for their children, have reached the same conclusion - that Byron Court School served the purpose it was designed for in the 1930's, to meet the needs of the Sudbury Court Estate - and are unwilling to take their children along congested and potentially unsafe (because of the extra traffic) streets to a "super-school" that is in the wrong place.

The Leadership at Brent Council, and the four members of its Planning Committee who approved the expansion plans for Byron Court, made a costly mistake. I wonder whether any of them will have the honesty and humility to accept that?


L Green said...

It would be interesting to know the location of the 900 on waiting lists. If they have accepted places, but would prefer a different school, then there will be a lot of movement, which can be very disruptive for young children, and also for teaching staff.

Unknown said...

Doubt it Phil, just like they think it's a good idea for Ark Sommerville to build a primary school in the shadow of York House Car Park, right on Empire Way, which is currently chockablok with traffic on a daily basis. Oh the Clean Air, Fresh Air Fund must be tripping over themselves to endorse this one. Er not really, I don't think so. They will all end up with Asthma, COPD. Why would any reasonable people think it's ok to build a school in a car park of a 1960s Office block on a major route to Wembley Stadium? You could not make this up. No! No! No! we don't need it, we don't want it. WHY? THis is total madness. I hope all parents who have children will not endorse their children going to a school full of pollution and no green or enviromentally green space to play. So upset, words cannot convey how saddened I am to hear this.

Philip Grant said...

On the main point of this blog, the proposed Ark Somerville Primary Academy, I have submitted the following comment to their online "Section 10" consultation:

'The figures for the number of applications for Reception class places in Brent for September 2017, obtained under an FoI request and published on the "Wembley Matters" website at: http://wembleymatters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/figures-put-need-for-new-ark-primary.html , raise serious doubts about whether there is a need for a new primary school in this part of the borough, given the existing nearby Elsley, Park Lane, Preston Manor and Wembley Primary Schools.

The proposed site for the Ark Somerville Primary Academy is not suitable for a primary school, being very restricted for space and surrounded by tall buildings on three sides. The fourth side of the site has the very busy Wembley Hill Road running along it, with traffic backing up from the South Way and Wembley Triangle junctions at busy times, creating air pollution which would affect the children when travelling to school, and within school and any outside play area (if there is room for such a play area!). The very busy traffic would also make journeys to and from school hazardous for children at the school, and for adults and any younger siblings accompanying them.

In summary, this is the wrong location for the proposed Academy, even if such an extra primary school facility were to be needed in this area.'

If YOU have views that you would like to express about this proposed new primary school, you can do so online - there is a simple LINK to to the consultation form from Martin's earlier blog about the proposal (which you can switch to via the LINK at the end of the first sentence in the blog above).


Philip Grant said...

Dear Jaine,

I agree with you about Ark Somerville (see my second comment, which should now be below). The more local people who share this view, and feel strongly enough about it to complete the simple online consultation form, the more chance of stopping this 'total madness' in its tracks!

You ask why people think it's OK to build a school in the car park of an office block. My guess is that Quintain think that if Ark build a primary school on the car park of their York House property, they will be able to get away without building the primary school they originally promised to deliver as part of their deal with Brent Council to redevelop Wembley Park. That would mean that they can build more flats, on a site that was earmarked for a school, and make even more profit out of it!


Anonymous said...

I wish there was some way that the Byron Court expansion could be stopped in light of this new information regarding school places. Building work has not yet started but is due to begin in the Summer holiday. Surely the work could be downgraded if not stopped altogether. What can the residents do?
As for the proposed new Ark Primary school....it is appalling that Brent Council deem it acceptable for children to be educated in such a highly polluted area with virtually no play space. There is clearly no thought of the health repercussions for the children or staff. Despicable.

Philip Grant said...

Dear Anonymous (12 July at 15:44),

You, and any other residents who feel that the site for the proposed new Ark Primary Academy is unacceptable, CAN do something to try to stop these plans.

There is an online consultation where you can express your views - see final paragraph of my (12 July at 10:35) comment below for how to access the consultation form. Thank you.