Belleville expansion plans

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hazel15malwood
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Belleville expansion plans

Postby hazel15malwood » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:55 pm

First of all I'll apologise for the length of my post. I am a prospective parent of Belleville school having applied for a reception class place for my child in 2010. I know local school posts always prove popular so I just wanted to make sure that as many people as possible who are interested, know that the most recent proposal on the Belleville expansion plans were published a couple of weeks ago by the Council and the deadline to respond to the current consultation is Feb 15th.
See: http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/33/bu ... sultations

In a nutshell, the proposal is to make Belleville a split site school, with a three reception class school remaining on the main site, and a second, new, single reception class school being established on the Paddock School site on Forthbridge Road, off Clapham Common Northside, just behind Parkgate School. Interestingly, places in the new school will be allocated on the basis of distance from Belleville school NOT distance from the Forthbridge Road site as might be imagined.

The new school needs to be refurbished and modernised and thus will not be ready until Sept 2011, so for those of us whose children start school in 2010, depending on how far away we live and hence our position on the places list, our children may start school on the Belleville main site and then be moved at the end of their first year to Forthbridge Road.

If you live close enough to the school to be sure your child will be one of the first 90 children offered places (including siblings), then nothing much changes for you. But if you're in position 91-120 on the list the proposal means two things:
1. you have a better chance of getting a place at a state school managed by the excellent Belleville management team this year than you would have otherwise
2. this place may not be at the main Belleville site Between the Commons for which you applied, but rather for the new site on the other side of Clapham Common, regardless of where your home is in relation to the Forthbridge Road site. So, even if you live on the Wandsworth Common side of Northcote Road further away from the new site, your place may still be for Forthbridge Road.

This proposal obviously also impacts on prospective parents whose children will start school beyond 2010 and I don't know if the Council has made any attempt to include them in the consultation process.

My personal view on the proposal is mixed. I'm now a lot more confident that I will have a state school place for my daughter in September, but I have mixed feelings about sending my child to an entirely new, untried and untested establishment (albeit run by the excellent Belleville team), where she will always be the oldest class in the school and not have older children to learn from.

I fear there is a danger of an 'us and them' or 'haves and have-nots' mentality developing between the two sites, with the Forthbridge Road site being seen as second class, or less desirable than the main site.

I am also concerned about how I will physically manage drop-offs with one child at school on Forthbridge Road and the other at nursery Between the Commons.

Part of my reasoning for putting Belleville as my first choice school was that I was hoping my daughter would get into school with all her nursery friends (most of whom have older siblings at Belleville so who are secure of places on the existing site) - now it seems she will most likely be in a class with children she doesn't know on a completely unfamiliar site in an unfamiliar area.

If you want to know more, or if you have any comments on this proposal, I urge you to contact the Council before the consultation deadline on Feb 15th. The decision on whether to go ahead with the proposal is expected to be made at a Council meeting on March 1st (or thereabouts). Email to:
primaryexpansionconsultation@wandsworth.gov.uk
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HappyValley
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby HappyValley » Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:37 pm

Hi there

As another prospective parent, who unfortunately doesn't live within 383m of Belleville School, (but who does live very close) and who would love the school to expand, I'd say that the principle is whether rather than how the school expands. Full stop.

All the other questions about how the site will work, travel distance, who goes to which site etc are details, and can be worked out. But if we don't expand this local school, then all your worries about your daughter being with nursery friends, or how you would manage the drop off, are completely irrelevant, as if you are not in that first 90 group, then she won't be going to Belleville anyway.

I guess that the decision on who goes to which site, should the split site expansion go ahead, can be managed in any number of ways, from lottery to proximity to the new site, to sibling needs. But in the scheme of whether your child gets into the school or not, then the powers that be are going to have to base that on proximity to the main Belleville site, not the Forthbridge road one, as that would effectively create a little catchment area around Forthbridge road. And it would make no difference to those of us who already live very near, but not near enough to what is our local school. re being the oldest in the school, that may not be the case, as the plan is to create a single form entry throughout the school, and given birth rates and movement around the area, chances are there will be a demand for those places higher up the school too.

As someone who is worried sick about where their child will go to school given the pressure on places at our two local schools, and without the means to go private, I would urge people to support this split site expansion. I was hugely disappointed that the original expansion was shouted down by parents lucky enough to already have children in the school, though I understand their concerns. If this compromise expansion does not go ahead, we will have turned down a huge sum of capital expenditure which could improve the prospects for local children.
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MGMidget
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby MGMidget » Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:01 pm

Thank you for alerting us to this. As a prospective parent of the school in a couple of year's time I hadn't heard about the latest plans for the split site so it was useful to have the chance to comment on the proposals before the deadline. Personally I am for the expansion but I don't think it is as simple as just being for or against the split site but more about the details of how they are going to make it work.
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herogirl
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby herogirl » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:41 pm

As a resident living next door to the Paddock Site, I have registered my objections as those of us living next door to the Paddock Site will not be allowed to send our children to the school. Surely that is the Have and Have Not earlier referred to? Am I the only one who thinks this is unfair? I don't have children that age so have no axe to grind.
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busyMouse
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby busyMouse » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:00 pm

Hello, am I right in thinking that this won't actually change the current intake of children each year? I believe Belleville have been admitting 4 reception classes since 2009 and will continue to admit 4 classes even when the Forthbridge Road site is operational in 2011, the only difference being that one reception class (as well as the year one class from the previous year's 4th reception class) will then go to the Forthbridge Road site. Or is it possible they will be taking in yet another reception class once they have the extra space? Can anyone shed some light on this?

Thanks!
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mumble
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby mumble » Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:45 am

as i understand it you are right

it is to make room for the 4th class they are allready admitting, rather than go to 5 classes.

i too think it is desperately unfair to those living around Forthbridge road i see no reason why the catchement rules for this should be any different to any other school in wandsworth (again we're nowhere near so no axe to grind)
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herogirl
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby herogirl » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:06 am

Just to remind those of you who do think it is unfair for those living around Forthbridge Road to be excluded (by reason of distance, not as a rule of the school) from attending at the new Paddock Site that objections need to be in by 24 June. Despite being offered further consultation, Wandsworth failed to do this and intend to go ahead with this unfair and elitist action. The paucity of replies agreeing with me tends to suggest that nobody really cares as long as they are alright. I wonder how people would feel if the boot were on the other foot and their schoolchildren could not attend the school next door. Please people, take action against this manifestly unfair proposal. It is not a precedent that should be set and just makes the problem worse. I will be contacting my new MP and the minister for children, I urge others to do the same. I have no children of school age myself, I simply feel that it is shocking to behave in such a way and very short sighted.
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custardy
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby custardy » Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:51 am

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Last edited by custardy on Wed Jun 09, 2010 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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herogirl
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby herogirl » Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:59 pm

Reply to custardy! The point is that people buy homes near these schools to get their children in. The homes are very expensive and children from poorer families stand no chance at all. By expanding the school and sending children off site, the elitist enclave is protected with mainly middle class white children attending the school and now, at a site in another ward. It does not solve the problem, people will still buy homes there to get into the next site and the next and the next. It is no answer, the answer is not to increase the size of a wealthy enclave but to spread the schooling around and let residence be dictated by where the schools are and not the other way round. You only mention three schools yet Highview is nearer than Wix and there are others, is it not that you just don't fancy your children going to those schools? Wandsworth's tory council's policy is unjustifiable and I only hope that someone takes this on and judicially reviews this sad and misguided course of action. The problem will only grow if it is not stopped. Already, the residents want a secondary school for all the privileged children from Belleville and Honeywell, a secondary school which would inevitably consist of yet again, middle class white children! I am afraid Custardy that your post just hammers home the point that parents between the commons want an education approaching private for free and at any cost. I do not see why the taxpayer should fund it. Someone please take them on!!!!
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custardy
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby custardy » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:27 pm

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Last edited by custardy on Wed Jun 09, 2010 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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herogirl
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby herogirl » Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:15 pm

Dear Custardy

This will be short, you already live in a an area of privilege, your righteous indignation is not convincing. I have just been told today that parents at Honeywell are renting a second home to get their children in and that the council is endorsing it! I will be writing to politicians of course. This just seeks to reinforce my beliefs set out earlier which were not aimed at you as such, but the army parents acting like set out above.
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custardy
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby custardy » Wed Jun 09, 2010 2:14 pm

herogirl, please do complain about people renting short term, I already have, it's immoral if not directly fraudulent - the law is somewhat confused about this matter unfortunately.

I am however confused that you think it is the right thing to do to offer MORE choice to people who already have a choice of schools nearby rather than allow others the option of sending their child to the local school rather than one much further away.

I've removed my other posts because I don't want to disclose my personal circumstances on a board only to be told by someone I don't know that I am not "convincing". I would love to word this reply to you more strongly, but will refrain as it's an open forum.
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herogirl
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby herogirl » Wed Jun 09, 2010 3:02 pm

I do not mean to offend anyone and I know that I don't agree with those on this site. I am not suggesting people should be offered more choice, just that it is immoral to "bus" children in from more affluent areas. I understand there is a lack of schooling between the commons but this problem exists because people who can afford these very expensive houses want their children into the good schools. I understand this but all it does by moving them out of the area is to make the problem grow exponentially! Surely it is better to house yourself near a school rather than house yourself near a good school which is clearly full and expect the state to sort that out? All it will lead to is the search for another site. I have no children that age and only subscribe to this site because I am involved in philanthropic activities with children. There is nothing philanthropic about the posts I see on this site. It is all about shopping, errant husbands, treats and trying to get round the school system! Accordingly, I am asking the moderator (please note moderator) to remove me from the emails and deregister me. I do live in Wandsworth and pay tax here so I do have a constitutional right to object. I only object on grounds of morality. It is nothing personal to Custardy or anyone else (except those who commit, as Custardy says, fraud!). Also, the increase of traffic to residents is hardly fair! It is not credible to say that people will not drive. At the moment, this area is chaos at school times with people trying to park for the 2 schools already here. At least the Paddock does not add to this because it uses special busses.
I am saddened by the behaviour of parents who cheat and lie to get their children into schools and on that I do agree with Custardy that they should be reported.
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dandelion53
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby dandelion53 » Wed Jun 09, 2010 3:10 pm

herogirl, I think your disapproval of the expansion plans for Belleville is fueled more by your opinion of the catchment area and your view of the people who live there than thinking about the problem that the council are trying to solve.
They have a huge number of applications for Belleville and Honeywell and many children to find places for once the places are filled. It is not unprecedented to create a geographical priority area for a primary school, in fact there are 5 Wandsworth schools who operate them already. 4 in Tooting and Furzedown and 1 in Earlsfield. Admittedly the new annexe site will be outside the priority area, but it won't actually be a school with its own management staff for you to apply to if you live in and around Forthbridge Road. It will effectively be like an annexe classroom site.
The council runs geographical priority areas when it needs to evenly distribute places so that it does not have pupils travelling long distances to school on the other side of the borough. If people living near Forthbridge Road could apply to Belleville when they live closer to other schools, (Remember that the Paddock site will not be a school, it will be part of Belleville) then the pupils who still couldn't get into Belleville would face longer journeys to school.
If Wandsworth council was trying to solve the problem of a shortage of places for pupils around Forthbridge road, then it would make sense to take applications from there, but the problem is the hundreds of applications from children living around Belleville.
You need to see the Forthbridge Road site as a floating annexe of classrooms from Belleville, it is not a new school and could be placed anywhere but is still part of Belleville and its staff.
And before you make assumptions about me, I don't even live in the catchment of those schools, I just think you're being a bit unfair.
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custardy
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Re: Belleville expansion plans

Postby custardy » Wed Jun 09, 2010 3:28 pm

herogirl, I think we would probably agree on a few things. The system of schooling provision is deeply flawed. We need more good schools - and perhaps we need means-testing as well? There was also a boom in births from 2001-2008, so the system is being severely tested now. The Conservative council and DCSF (under Labour) have much to answer for - a leap in the 4-5 year old population should hardly come as a surprise, but I understand that the Dept chose to constrain the council in making provision for extra pupils, trying instead to keep everything very tightly controlled. Not so long ago the birth rate appeared to be falling, and a knee jerk reaction to that was to close schools because the places weren't needed immediately - rather than mothballing say.

Perhaps we ought to challenge the notion that everyone has the right to send their child to state school in the way that they have the right to visit their local GP or have an operation on the NHS. As every citizen will naturally want to send their child to a good school, not just any school, this is when money begins to talk. Add in a densely populated areas such as this, with proximity to well paid jobs, and the model falls apart. Or perhaps the challenge is to the govt to provide good schools everywhere. One the last Govt seems to have failed.

When I hear of people just renting a place for a few months, without the intention of even moving in, I feel ill. The idea that you can "buy" a place like that is shocking. If there's provision, or the possibility of provision I will fight all the way for my child to benefit. But if we miss out then so be it - I won't be defrauding another resident who lives nearer than my actual address out of a place by those sort of means.
Last edited by custardy on Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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