Monday, 5 December 2011

A Common Concern?

As the debate continues over possible expansion of Cheam Common Infants School in response to growing pressure on school places in Worcester Park, a concerned parent has contacted the blog to voice his concerns over the impact that this might have on the school and the surrounding area.

He writes: "It seems that the school is now looking to go ahead with the plans to expand having given everyone "comfort" in knowing that the many side streets can be used for parents dropping off and picking up their little ones (this for some reason being the only concern the school has over the expansion).

No consideration has been given to the residents of these streets, nor to the parents (of which I am one) and the children of Cheam Common Infants.

The school is already at maximum capacity and quite frankly the teaching standards have slipped in the three years I have been involved with the school.

Plans that are being thrown around to cater for this expansion include building on the only small green space the kids now have, rotating break periods and no doubt increasing class sizes.

I am embarrassed to say that the education system in this country has hit an all time low by allowing this to happen in favour of school funds rather than putting the well fare of the children first.

I'd urge all parents and carers and local person to voice your concerns and disagreement of this shift in priorities."

Applications for a place at the Infants’ School have increased considerably in recent years. In 2008 there were only 2 children on the admissions waiting list, in 2010 there was none but this year saw 51 pupils, most of whom lived within a mile of the school, on the waiting list. 

Class sizes in surrounding schools have been increased to try and mitigate this situation, however demand for school places in Worcester Park is predicted to continue to increase, especially with the completion of a further 88 properties on The Hampton’s development.

Sutton Council's education committee is considering four possible options in response to the demand for school places in Worcester Park:
  1. Delay or discontinue the further expansion of capacity in the Worcester Park area;
  2. Expand Cheam Common Infants’ school by one form of entry from September 2012;
  3. Expand Dorchester Primary School by a further form of entry from September 2012’
  4. Provide a 'bulge' reception class at Dorchester Primary School from September 2012.
It is understood that the second option, addition of another form at Cheam Common Infants, is the most favoured option of the four being considered.

The plan to add a further class to the school from September 2012 has already met considerable local controversy, with a petition presented by concerned locals worried about the impact of further expansion on the local community and roads. 

In response to these concerns, Sutton Council has promised to take action through the 'Schools Transport Plan' to engage more directly with parents to encourage considerate parking/discourage aggressive behaviour, advertise a “park and stride” campaign and encourage parking to be further from the schools (agreements were currently being negotiated with local supermarkets to use their car parks as assembly points) and encourage greater levels of cycling and walking to school. 

Cheam Common Infants' School received an overall rating of  'Good' in the OFSTED inspection undertaken last year. /