Dec 03 2014

Council Ignores Welldon Park Schools Over Amalgamation Plans

welldon_park_logoWelldon Park Infant School and Welldon Park Junior School have recently been through consultation on both expansion to three forms of entry, and also on amalgamating the two schools – in effect to create one all-through school, albeit it separate sites, with separate receptions, separate staff rooms, separate grounds – in fact, separate everything except Headteacher, if the report from Harrow Council is to be believed.

The schools both favoured expansion from 60 children per year to 90 – in effect, an extra year group. However, they couldn’t see any benefit in amalgamating – it would create two separate schools in all but name and headteacher – all the usual benefits of schools on one site amalgamating simply don’t stack up in this environment. After all, with a road between the two schools, it’s unlikely that there would be any ‘merging’ of teaching facilities, and the demands of infants, versus those of juniors, are very different.

So, the schools suggested a federation as a first step towards a possible amalgamation in the future. Amalgamating would result in the loss of £150,000 per year in funding. Federating would retain this money. The council says, “On reviewing the joint Governing Body response, it is considered that whilst the Governors raise a number of points, including the split site nature of the combined school, with appropriate support and planning they will be addressed and the educational benefits of a combined school operating over two sites will be achieved.” Or perhaps, in other words, they ignored the governors’ views.

It goes on to say another benefit is “More opportunities are created for older children to take on additional responsibility. For younger children the presence of older children provides aspirational role models and also mentoring support…” – although it doesn’t understand that there won’t be any mixing of age groups: it’s two separate sites. You’re hardly going to see infants crossing the road at playtime to go any run around the juniors’ playground, what with footballs and cricket balls being kicked around.

A suggestion to create two smaller all-though schools, one on each site, with perhaps an increased focus on SEN provision was rejected out of hand by the council.

But going back to expansion,  over half of those polled supported the schools getting bigger. And just over a third wanted them to amalgamate.  The decision on whether to progress along this route will be heard at the next Cabinet meeting in December, and will come back to be rubber-stamped in February 2015. No doubt there will more to come on this, once the council published plans for building works, impact on traffic flow and so on.

Source: here (pages 17-50)


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