Parents’ fury as primary school prepares for surprise influx of secondary pupils

Oct 12, 2016 by

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In our diary: More tales of chaotic temporary free school arrangements; plus Dame Rachel de Souza and her bid to bring policy to the people

Parents at a south London primary school have launched a fierce campaign against plans for secondary pupils to be brought into the same building for two years. In the latest tale of bizarre free school planning, Paxton primary in Gipsy Hill, which has already expanded from a one-form to a three-form entry primary school, will suddenly see up to 240 year 7s descend on it next year, with a further 240 in the offing for 2018-19.

The school has just completed a new building, intended for primary children, giving it space for 630 pupils as it grows from its current roll of 300. There is temporarily some spare space, until the entry cohort reaches year 6. But the secondary pupils could take numbers to 900 within two years, way beyond capacity.

The sudden plan seems to have arisen because Gipsy Hill school, a new free school (secondary), due to open in 2017, has yet to secure planning permission for a site four miles away in Clapham.

Paxton parents collected more than 600 signatures against the proposals within 10 days of them being announced by Sir Craig Tunstall, the Gypsy Hill Federation’s chief executive, at the end of last month. The parents worry the site will become cramped, that temporary classrooms will have to be built on a playground that is already small and that its special needs facilities aren’t equipped to cope. They also fear that the need to separate primary and secondary pupils at lunchtimes will leave children rushing meals, and that the primary faces three years of disruption just as its building work has finished.

Parents say they knew nothing of the plans before they were announced, and yet signs were put up at the primary proclaiming it as the home of the new secondary three days later. The federation’s website is already offering prospective parents “tours” of the secondary’s “brand new space at Paxton”.

On Friday, the parents wrote to the government calling for the plan to be reversed. They have pointed to Lambeth and Southwark council data [pdf] suggesting there will be no shortage of secondary places locally next year, and a council document showing there were concerns about traffic congestion [pdf] even when the primary was allowed to expand.

Source: Parents’ fury as primary school prepares for surprise influx of secondary pupils | Education | The Guardian

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