Residents in north Wembley fight to stop primary school expansion
- Credit: Archant
Parents and residents in north Wembley are fighting plans to expand a primary school making it one of the biggest in the country.
More than 1,000 people have already signed two petitions urging Brent Council to scrap the proposal for Byron Court Primary School in Spencer Road.
The school currently has around 600 pupils with the total surging to 1,050 if the expansion goes ahead in which the three-form entry into five.
There are already “bulge” classes in year two where 60 extra children have been admitted and the plan is to add these extensions onto other classes until 2020.
A primary school in Barking, east London, is believed to be the biggest in the country with 1,100 pupils.
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Campaigners say they are concerned about children’s learning, their education and the impact on increased traffic on its narrow roads claiming it poses a danger.
Martin Dickens, chair of Parents Against Byron School Expansion, who has two sons at the school, said: “The larger the school is, the less attention children will get. All studies from America show, the smaller the school, the better the quality of education.”
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Adding that staggered playtimes and meal times would not be in the best interests of any of the children, he said: “In order to feed 1,000 pupils some will eat as early as 11.30 while others will be starving by 1.30pm. Currently my boys see one another at playtimes but if they stagger the times children won’t interact with others from different years.
“The whole community feel of the school will be lost.”
The parents claim there are four other primary schools within a mile’s radius of the school adding concerns that children will be bought in from further away it into a “dumping ground.”
Suzanne D’Souza, chair of the Sudbury Court Residents Association, added: “School places are not needed here, especially not in the middle of landlocked area where the children will be squashed in like sardines. It’s putting money before the educational concerns of children. It is so short-sighted.”
Karen Jones, who lives in Spencer Road, said: “Politicians and councillors are giving precedence to financial consideration over education in factory-farming primary school children from some of the most deprived areas, widening the gap between the ‘haves and have-nots’.”
Cllr Keith Perrin, Labour councillor for the Northwick Park ward, said: “It’s totally inappropriate to expand the school. “The road network can’t deal with it and it’s an absolute nightmare for the residents. I’m really worried the children’s learning will suffer in such a large school.”
A spokesman for Brent Council said: “By law, councils need to ensure there are enough school places for children and estimates by the Greater London Authority show that by the end of the decade, around 9,000 extra places will be needed to meet the local demand in Brent.
“Brent Council’s cabinet committee will consider a report on the proposed expansion of the school and the points raised in a recent consultation at its next meeting on March 16.”
If approved the planning application will go to a committee in April.