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: