Local Talk

Merton: dumbing-down Dundonald Primary School?

(210 Posts)
page1 Fri 03-Jun-11 14:15:20

1. Merton Council's consultation process regarding the proposed expansion of Dundonald Primary School(DPS) has now commenced and information can be obtained from their website or that of DPS. The Council has distributed a leaflet to residents for feedback and is due to hold a public meeting on Wednesday 8 June.

2. Disappointingly, the Conservatives, LibDems and Independents have been very quiet on the issue. The Labour Party has given out letters supporting the proposed expansion and, to his credit, Cllr Walker has had the courage to put his personal credibility on the line given his close involvement with the campaign. However, threatening parents/carers that they will have to take their children to school in Morden if the Council doesn't get its way seems a little extreme. Frankly, parents don't care how far they travel if their children can attend an outstanding state school.

2. It seems that the governors of DPS only agreed to an expansion programme on condition that the Council provided more space. The governors knew that this was impossible for the Council to achieve because of the existence of the restrictive covenant concerning the neighbouring park (see the petition on the Council website).

3. The proposal to double the size of DPS, starting with the temporary bulge class, has caused much concern to parents of pupils at the school as witnessed by DPS being forced to issue an explanatory letter and Q&A to try and quell those fears.

4. DPS is a popular school because it had an outstanding rating from Ofsted following the last inspection and it is the ideal size. It currently has around 250 pupils which is the average number for a primary school in England. If it doubles in size, parents fear that standards may slip. Merton has 40+ primary schools of which only 6 were rated outstanding and the majority of those were 1FE schools ie similar number of pupils to DPS.

5. Parents are also worried by the disruption to their children's education that will occur once construction begins on such a small and restricted site with all the attendant health and safety issues.

6. The school currently enjoys a harmonious relationship with the neighbouring community which might not survive if the Council's plans prevail.

7. Somewhat surprisingly, the Council's consultation process takes no account of ethnic diversity.

Please feel free to forward this to and/or discuss the contents with any parents of pupils at Dundonald Primary School who may have concerns about the Council's plans and say NO to the proposal.

PAGE - Parents AGainst Expansion

Lemonsole Mon 06-Jun-11 13:32:54

How nice. Talk about pulling up the drawbridge on paradise.

There is a greater demand for school places in Merton. Many, many families having to trek across the borough and into other boroughs. Merton is acknowledging that YOUR area needs more places to enable more children to go to their LOCAL school.

What's your solution, then? Expand other schools that are already larger? Pretend that the other children in your area aren't there? This has got to be the nimby-est thread that I have ever read on Mumsnet, and the one that leaves the nastiest taste in the mouth.

Your school is Grade 1 because of its poncy intake. Its poncy intake will remain so: the catchment is bound to expand only by one or two streets at best. It is not Grade 1 because it has 30 or 60 pupils in each year group.

There are plenty of two-form entry Grade 1 schools. Get over yourselves. Schools do not "dumb-down" because they get larger. At least, they don't if they are doing their job properly and not relying on pushy parenting and Kumon to fill the cracks. If they can only do the job with one form, then they just ain't that good a school, considering the cushty catchment.

I'm sure that your H and S concerns over building works would not be there if the LEA was building you an onsite swimming pool, or improving facilities for existing children. hmm

Parp. and biscuit

Giselle99 Mon 06-Jun-11 18:26:49

Very well said Lemonsole.

I'm a Merton resident and the OP's post has convinced me to write a letter of support to Merton council FOR the expansion.

omnishambles Mon 06-Jun-11 18:30:30

So we had a few OP's last month from Merton residents who didnt get a reception place at all and now we have this. What a ridiculous world we live in.

btw my local school is 3 form entry and one of the best in its borough and has a very mixed intake. Size doesnt matter with good leadership.

Mamaz0n Mon 06-Jun-11 18:32:18

what a wanky OP

Take it your pfb already has a place? of course. and those who have to drive to the next nearest school (wimbledon chase iirc) or further still, well thats just their tough luck huh.

Mamaz0n Mon 06-Jun-11 18:35:30

I am also intrigued by the thread title, "dumbing down"

did your child take an entrance exam then? Do they give new entrants an IQ test upon application?
Will this be stopped once the expansion starts?

Your poor poor child. I hope that they expand the school, I then hope that your child mixes with lots of other children with parents who have a view further than their own colon. It will be refreshing for them

Lemonsole Mon 06-Jun-11 19:33:17

Phew! I don't live in Merton, but hoped that replying to this unpleasant OP would galvanise Merton parents into action in favour of expanding the school. There were so many sad tales from that borough of children without a place at all, anywhere, that this just made me see red.

That's without even starting on the hideous assumption that any school with more than one-form entry will be a shite-hole, as the precious offspring of those lucky enough to be able to afford to live within a 50 metre radius are diluted by scum... hmm

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Mon 06-Jun-11 20:07:00

I heartily agree, Lemonsole and others.

A well managed school will not be harmed by expansion as long as it is adequately funded. A 1 form entry school is very unusual and I would be worried about it being too small TBH.

Our local primaries have had bulge classes added in recent years - very necessary as when DD was due to start reception she was not offered a place at any local school and we had to go private. God knows what would have happened if we had not been able to scrape the money together, she would probably still be on waiting lists now!

The crucial factors for a good school seem to be an excellent head supported by enthusiastic teaching staff, together with parents committed to their DC's education.

None of these factors are affected by adding extra classes as a good school will know how to manage this.

LJBrownie Mon 06-Jun-11 21:53:55

If the school is outstanding, it seems to be a good choice for expansion - or would you suggest that the Council expands underperforming schools instead?

I am also intrigued by the 'dumbing down' title. Although I am a Wandsworth parent and so don't know all the Merton chat, that does imply your concerns are motivated by a dislike of a slightly more balanced intake.

And are you really talking about only going from 1FE to 2FE? In our area, people get upset about going from 3FE to 4FE as then it really is a big school! 2FE is really very normal for London! I hope your campaign fails - what's so wrong with sharing your school with a few more kids who'll get the benefit of the great education you've chosen for your children?

Wimbledonian Tue 07-Jun-11 14:21:00

Another person who will vote Yes based on this OP.

What does ethnic diversity have to do with this proposal, please explain.

TurnedOutNiceAgain Wed 08-Jun-11 16:03:24

I just came across this thread and am so glad to see all the posts highlighting the self-centred, ill-informed attitude of the OP. Dundonald is our nearest school but we live just outside the tiny catchment area. As things stand, many of the children living in roads nearby are unlikely to be offered a reception place at Dundonald or any of the other local schools, which are all over-subscribed. Additional school places are desperately needed in this area and the hysterical reaction to expanding the school is just unbelievable.

IsItEverEnough Sun 12-Jun-11 09:06:33

Being local, I think that for a lot of people the issue isn't expansion. MAny agree that more places are needed - this is clear. The question is whether Dundonald is the place to expand given the restriction to building on green space, the infrastructure problems that will be caused, the impact on park users who come from across the borough to use it's playing fields, playground, bowling green and pavilion. Many people would be amenable if (and it is a huge IF) the school had its own land to build on. It doesn't. If another building could be had to house the expansion without building on the park then I agree that it could, with the right amount of work and attention work.

The Council, if they go ahead, are going to remove amenity that is enjoyed by the entire community - a bowling green for the older people, tennis courts and the playground will necessarily have to go I would think for the duration of the building works - I cannot see given the plans how it could be otherwise.

It is lose, lose for everyone. The school has the smallest site in the borough. It is an old Victorian school that is frankly cramped as it is. There is barely enough space to have all the children in the hall together. Nativity plays need to be held by Key Stage Group and each done on two occasions so that all parents can come. Play time has to be split up as well.

The building that they propose to meet the expansion and an extra 210 kids is half the size of the original building. It just doesn't add up. Making it bigger is next to impossible because of further impact on the park.

So what is the outcome of an expansion - not a lot of extra for the school, a lot less for the community at large.

Whilst eventually the playground will be reinstated it cannot be feasible for it to remain due to the building site while works are still ongoing. This is the ONLY playground in Wimbledon (centre) and children come from all over the borough to use it. Only last year the council invested a huge amount of money putting in new equipment, a sand- pit, trampoline etc.

At the moment, after school on a nice day, it is borderline dangerous to play in because of the number of children. Dundonald children plus the recently expanded Wimbledon Chase School less than 350 metres away come to play as well as other children who go to other schools and younger children not yet in school.

If the school is expanded there will be an increase of at least 210 children plus younger brothers and sisters who will want to play in the playground but the size of the play ground will increase by only 18% at the most.

Look at the council's plans on their website and compare the existing to the proposed plans yourselves and do the math like I just did.

Houses in the immediate area have tiny gardens - in many cases as short as 17 -20 feet. They were likely built this way as the recreation ground had been in place at the time of construction. There are also many flats in the area - with single family homes having been turned into to flats. These people also need green space.

Before I am accused of not caring about children's education or not having a stake in it, I have been in the position of not having had a school place for my child and being on the waiting list - despite living within 200 metres of two schools. I know what it is like to have that worry.

A lot of the problem in my opinion lies in the admissions criteria which places siblings over proximity. People flaunt the rules and rent near the school to get their first child in and then move out taking two places from genuinely local children (the original child plus any following siblings). The admissions priority area at Wimbledon Chase penalises those children who live east of Dundonald School in preference of those who live up towards Wimbledon Village. Proximity is the only way to go. If, as a parent, you chose to move out of the catchment area, you should not retain the ability to send a sibling to the school. Also, if you apply late - too bad. IT is not isolated instances where this happens. The houses in question which are effectively school places for rent routinely go back on the rental market as soon as the letters allocating places come out. It is not and cannot be a coincidence.

The need for school places needs to be balanced with the needs of the community as a whole. There are several other attendant issues beyond people worrying about how the school will function which is a valid one for parents - both in terms of space, disruption during building works and administratively. Check out the plans critically if you think it is otherwise. It is not just that locals don't want an expansion. They are worried about loss of amenity and an infrastructure which is unable to cope with the extra demand on it.

I am more worried about where the hundreds of children who use the playground will play for a couple of years and whether it will ever be returned to something comparable to its current state when the works are done. Will it be a case of the council running out of money as the works finish? I don't suppose I am alone in this - but maybe I am.

This affects everyone in the community, the young, the old, the single, not just those of us with children who are afraid we won't get a place.

meditrina Sun 12-Jun-11 09:15:01

I wonder if OP will return with an account if 8th June meeting?

IsItEverEnough: I don't know the area, so don't have a view on the space for expansion. But I do agree with you about siblings of families who have moved. Preference should be given only to those who are living at the same address (or one nearer the school) as the one at time of entry (or perhaps have a permitted additional distance formula).

budgiebyrne Sun 12-Jun-11 09:46:42

Thanks to those on this thread who have taken time to support the expansion proposals for Dundonald Primary School in Wimbledon

I am the Cabinet Member in Merton with the responsibility for Education. Like many other London Boroughs we are experiencing a rapid increase in the number of 4 year olds wishing to enter our schools

In Merton we have had a 30% increase in recent years.

I took over this role a year ago and found that we were desperate for more accomodation for young children in our schools. My idea was to expand good and outstanding primary schools rather than build new schools for which we did not have the money. It means that we use our excellent existing Heads and teachers who are in place and can meet the need.

However due to a surprisingly hostile and misleading campaign there is the chance that this expansion could be lost. The anti campaign are claiming that this expansion will reduce the amount of open space and ruin the adjacent park

I live very close to the school and the park and have for a number of years with others, worked to improve the park.

The proposal is to replace the delapidated single story park pavillion and use its footprint to build a two story building for the school. This would also provide new public toilets and public changing rooms. There will be no loss of space and the park would be greatly improved.

At present children need to live within 200 metres of the school gate to get a place. If we expand it will mean we can admit children living around 700 metres away.

I do hope those who support this expansion will show theuir support by writing to me or the Council so we can defeat this misleading and dangerous local campaign to oppose the expansion of an school with an outstanding Ofsted rating

Councillor Peter Walker
Merton Civic Centre
London Road

womble007 Sun 12-Jun-11 12:58:13

To: Lemonsole:
How dare you call children who live near Dundonald “poncy”? I find this very offensive.
They could not build an onsite swimming pool at the School, because there is no space.

To: Giselle99 and Wimbledonian:
How can you justify making up your minds on such an important issue on the basis of just one Mumsnet posting?
As IsItEverEnough points out, the issue for many people is the destruction of Dundonald Recreation Ground.
Maybe you should think a little and consider all the issues before you come to a decision?

If there is a “hysterical reaction to expanding the school” it is because people want to protect their community. It does not seem unbelievable to me that people should be passionate about saving something they care for.

I wonder who exactly is leading a “misleading and dangerous local campaign”, please refer to the article in the online version of the Wimbledon Guardian: www.wimbledonguardian.co.uk/news/9072660.Councillor_faces_investigation_into_misconduct_claims/?ref=ec

Also, it is not Dundonald PARK, it is Dundonald RECREATION Ground; it confirms this on the entrances to the Ground.

meditrina Sun 12-Jun-11 17:17:01

I looked at the link - it seems what is misleading is whether he was writing in a Party or an official Council position. The statements he made do not seem to be challenged as being factually misleading. So the redevelopment in the park/rec is the redevelopment of an existing building, which will not increase its footprint (so none of the park/rec will be lost). If that is indeed true, then expansion, when more school spaces are so sorely needed, is a no-brainer.

womble007 Sun 12-Jun-11 17:55:18

Meditrina: I THINK YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT!!! - It is misleading to misrepresent yourself. If you misrepresent yourself, how can anything you say be trusted??? I think THIS is a no-brainer!!!
It is misleading to call the recreation ground a park. There is a legal covenant regarding the recreation ground, which says it should only be used for recreation.
It is misleading to suggest it is just rebuilding on the pavilion. This is not the case – have a look at the plans
As far as I can see, the community will not be gaining a pavilion. It will be a school pavilion, only to be used by the community at certain times. The same goes for the new tennis courts, only open to the community at certain times. The bowling green will be DESTROYED. Trees will be DESTROYED. The new playground, which the council has just spent a lot of money on, will be DESTROYED. It is not clear what the new arrangements for playground usage will be.
Where will the entrances/exits of the new enlarged School be? How much more traffic will there be? Will Dundonald Road need to be enlarged?
Once the School is expanded once and the covenant disregarded, there will be no stopping further expansion. Before we know it, the whole recreation ground, which serves the whole community and many other people for miles around, will be swallowed up.
The Council should find an alternative solution to the growing number of children (and there ARE alternatives) and Councillors who misrepresent themselves should be out of jobs – “It is the first time since 2008 that a complaint against a councillor has been deemed serious enough to be investigated externally and, if upheld, would almost certainly cost Coun Walker his post as education spokesman.”- maybe you missed this part of the article, meditrina?!

meditrina Sun 12-Jun-11 18:17:07

I was only quoting the link. And it is clear that the complaint has not yet been adjudicated.

The case for loss of amenity seems overstated. It seems to me that the community will be gaining an improved pavilion and other facilities will remain. And the idea that it somehow leads to total loss of the park/rec strikes me as scaremongering.

Given the tiny (200m) admissions area of the school, can there really be a big expected increase in traffic? Especially if IsItEverEnough's excellent suggestions to favour proximity over siblings were adopted.

omnishambles Sun 12-Jun-11 20:05:44

Womble - what are the alternatives to the expansion? If a community has to choose between a bowling green and school places then that hard choice needs to be made I think.

womble007 Sun 12-Jun-11 20:42:19

Meditrina: I was only quoting the link too, and it sounds pretty serious to me.
I don't think loss of amenity is overstated and I don't think loss of the Recreation Ground is scaremongering. From what I have heard, Dundonald School is already too small and the new planned expansion is also too small. Therefore, it is obvious that the Council will demand more land from the Recreation Ground in due course. Once the Recreation Ground has been destroyed, it can never be recovered.
I know people who have driven their children to school from just across the park by car, so I DO think there will be more traffic. There are already problems with congestion and parking, etc and Wimbledon Chase has also just been enlarged. If proximity over siblings were adopted this would be wonderful.
Omnishambles: The community does NOT need to choose between a bowling green and school places.
In my opinion, a new school needs to be built, as apparently, the previous Council administration had planned to do. The catchment area for Wimbledon Chase needs to be redrawn (its a very funny shape at present) so that those nearest the school can get places. Also, the sibling rule needs to be sorted out, as does the problem of people moving into the area just to get places and then moving out again.

budgiebyrne Sun 12-Jun-11 20:49:13

Incidentally ther are 13 members of the bowls club and 200+ children who want to go to Dundonald School in the immediate area make your choice

Peter Walker

swanker Sun 12-Jun-11 21:49:27

Merton's situation aside, I do think the idea of expanding good/outstanding schools and expecting them to remain good/outstanding is ridiculous. Putting more and more children into an overcrowded site isn't really conducive to a good education, and the whole business of having to do lunch in 7 shifts, multiple concerts and plays etc etc takes mammoth amount of organising, let alone parental juggling so that they can attend all these events.

I would like to know why councils have not managed to cater for the expansion in population- they have had 5 years to make arrangements.
Our LA has seen around 25% increase in birth rate, yet waited until the March before the first bulge year started Reception before doing anything. No new schools of course, just lots of extra classes tacked on to schools already running at capacity, some schools have seen 100% increase in numbers of admissions, there are parents expected to take children to 3 different schools because of the pressure on school places- how can this not warrant the provision of new schools?

<<rant, rant, rant>>

Lemonsole Sun 12-Jun-11 22:17:17

Womble007 "Poncy" - as offensive, more offensive, or less offensive than implying that expansion of a catchment area beyond a hugely expensive 200 metre radius is "dumbing down"? hmm I don't know whether you are connected to the OP, but my use of "poncy" was a response to her equally offensive language.

She sees the correlation between (in your case) a single form entry school and Ofsted Grade 1 status. Correlation does not equate to cause, and the existence of many, many large Ofsted Grade 1 schools shows that it is misguided to think that larger has to = worse.

However, there are rather more Ofsted Grade 1 schools serving privileged catchment areas than there are serving mixed or deprived areas. From what I know of that corner of Wimbledon, it's probably fair to suggest that the school enjoys a relatively privileged - or poncy, in Mumsnet terms - catchment. And I say that as a pretty poncy person myself.

Of course I don't think that Merton Council would ever consider building a swimming pool on your school site. Councils don't tend to do that for Primary Schools. You're putting a rather too literal interpretation onto my point that it is very convenient to play a H & S card to prop up the flimsy case against expansion. Were the Council offering to improve facilities for the existing privileged few, I suspect that you would not have the same H & S concerns. That's all.

hester Sun 12-Jun-11 22:32:51

I have no view on Dundonald, but just to say that I used to believe smaller was automatically better when it comes to primary school. I was gutted when my dd didn't get into her first choice school, and instead is at a school with over 700 pupils. But you know, it is a great school: Ofsted outstanding, very caring, my dd is thriving there.

All the primary schools in our area (not a million miles from Wimbledon) are either 2fe or 3FE. They take turns hosting a bulge year, which takes some up to 4FE (my dd is one of 120 in her year). Not ideal, but the way it is going in popular areas of London.

beachbabies Tue 14-Jun-11 06:45:30

I live local to Dundonald School and have two children that go there; I've been undecided about the expansion but am absolutely enraged by the "Save the Park" gang who feel like playground bullies, drowning out any attempt to have a reasonable debate about the issues. My elderly neighbour has been very upset by the posters put up in windows, showing a bulldozer in the rose garden and a bricking up of the park entrance; it seems a completely ludicrous over-reaction to a plan to rebuild the pavillion next to the school with new public amenities. There is no loss of space to the park itself.

I can't believe I'm a grown-up who feels so intimidated by all the frenzy whipped up by this group - but I do. It seems an odd example to be setting for our children?!

IsItEverEnough Tue 14-Jun-11 10:53:21

Despite the outrage at the imagery that the Save the Park group are using, the posters are definitely making the local community aware of the issue. Would an image of the bowling green being paved over, or construction tape around the children's playground have caused less or more outrage?

When the Council were consulting back in October / November last year I know that many in the local community not linked with the school were unaware of the proposals - as a result of the Save the Park campaign at least they are now.

As to no loss to the park itself, I urge you to have a close look at the plans. The bowling green will become a multi-use games area that will be closed to the public during school hours 8am - 6pm. The pavilion will have fewer facilities than it does now and parts of it (depending on which option) will no longer be available to groups in the community during school hours.

It is all a question of perception - if you are an older person who uses the bowling green space will be lost, if you are one of the groups who uses the pavilion hall during the school day - space will be lost. If you are a parent who has a child at the school or stands to gain a place in future school years, as I am, there will be more play space outside and you probably won't notice the loss of facilities used by other groups. It all depends how you look at it.

Let's face it head on - we are all driven by self-interest. Both groups who are for and those who are against. What is important in making the final decision is the majority view. That is democracy.

Community engagement, of any kind, in any form, is better than apathy. If you feel strongly, for or against expansion, it is your duty to make your voice heard. Write to the council, contact your MP, your local councillor, speak to your neighbours.

And, respectfully, if you can't be bothered, because, let's face it, it is hard work and we are all busy, you shouldn't complain if the outcome isn't what you wanted.

Wimbledonian Tue 14-Jun-11 13:41:45

I haven't just made my mind up based on 1 Mumsnet posting I had been weighing up the pros and cons and was leaning towards agreeing to expansion and this just outlined why the expansion was a good thing. I live close enough to the school to have been able to choose it for my children, but I decided not to because I couldn't stand all the smug "I'm all right Jack" attitudes I encountered. And you're not doing yourselves any favours with the local community with this campaign, particularly the bloke with the 2 dogs who seems to be heading it up, giving out misleading information in the park.

And the Wimbledon Chase catchment area is shaped like it is because of the lack of school spaces available to children on the slopes of the hill running down to Worple Road. If the catchment was just expanded in a circle, it would swallow up the Joseph Hood "catchment" and people would apply to WCPS instead of JH and those living off Worple Road would not have a school place.

AnyParent Thu 30-Jun-11 00:51:36

The park is there for all age groups to enjoy and it was left to the Borough with that provision. Dundonald School is in a confined area and is a good local school. There is an alternative location which the council seems to be deaf to. Also, why didn't the council make it a condition of providing schooling when new housing projects were passed? Just wait until your kids join the pitiful 49% of students that the Borough can muster getting 5 GCSE's including english and maths. That's the scandal of such an affluent Borough. Where are those parents?

TurnedOutNiceAgain Sat 02-Jul-11 22:23:24

As far as I know, the only local site under consideration was the old Wimbledon School House site which does not meet the current legal minimum requirements for classroom and playground space and is in a state of severe dilapidation. This option has now been as good as dismissed by both the Council and the group trying to set up a 'free school' there. The Gap Road site in north wimbledon would not help to solve the issue for children living in this area given the shortage of places there is just as bad.

The fact is that there are simply not enough school places in this area, as in many other areas, to meet local demand. Almost all other local schools have already expanded for this reason, and given that Dundonald used to have a considerably larger number of pupils attending than at present, it's not clear why it is suddenly far too small for expansion to even be considered. There is no evidence that expanding from 1FE to 2FE will adversely impact on the school - why on earth would the Governors and Head of Dundonald be supporting the expansion if this were the case?

The proposal to expand Dundonald school by knocking down the old pavilion and constructing a new dual-use building offering improved facilities for park users seems a pretty imaginative way to provide a solution for both park users and local families. It is pretty outrageous and shameful that a group of people have run a deliberately misleading and scaremongering campaign against the expansion, based on telling people that the entire park is going to be concreted over and sold for housing (I paraphrase..) unless they sign the petition. Of course they've managed to scare lots of people into signing up but it doesn't give much credibility to a petition based on deliberate misinformation.

The families whose children cannot find places in local schools live on the roads near to both Dundonald school and to the park, and are as much a part of the community as the fortunate few who happen to live directly opposite the school. Womble007's suggestion that people are only trying to protect "their" community typifies the attitude that it's "their" park, "their" school, "their" community and anyone with a different viewpoint better not have the temerity to express it.

People who object to the expansion can pretend that the children without places don't exist, or that it's perfectly fine for (other people's) 4 year olds to travel to the other side of the borough to school, or that Dundonald will be "dumbed down" if the children on neighbouring roads are allowed to attend "their" school, or focus solely on what previous council administrations could or should have done years ago to avoid any problems. However, none of this is going to help children who will be without any local school place next year if the expansion is blocked. Alternatively, we could all take a deep breath and consider expanding an excellent local school to ensure there are places for all the children living nearby, rather than just a privileged few, and provide better, modernised facilities for park users and community groups at the same time.

BTW, the consultation deadline has now been extended to 11 July, in case there is anyone who has not yet contributed and would like to do so (preferably in favour of the expansion of course...)

womble25 Mon 12-Mar-12 17:46:39

These vicious NIMBYs have now started threatening the children of families who support the school expansion.

Apparently if we don't withdraw our support for the school expansion - which the head teacher is in favour of - then they'll get our daughter expelled from the school.

That's the threat, although I doubt their ability to carry it out.

wobblypig Mon 12-Mar-12 20:37:34

How does that work then? I don't understand.

womble25 Tue 13-Mar-12 12:46:45

They say that if we don't withdraw our support for the school expansion then their anonymous friends (who they won't name) will get our daughter expelled from the school.

wobblypig Wed 14-Mar-12 22:41:56

What ? Are you serious? Are these threats made in person?

womble25 Thu 15-Mar-12 10:53:54

Yes, I'm serious.

Yes, threats made in person.

Police have been involved.

wobblypig Thu 15-Mar-12 17:25:26

That's horrendous - how could the issue be that important to provoke people to make threats like that. I know it is heated - the tit for tat in the Time and Leisure is the tip of the iceberg I am sure.

womble25 Fri 16-Mar-12 13:33:37

I wouldn't know, in our house Time and Leisure goes in the recycling bin unread. smile

I think it's very cowardly for a grown man to threaten a small girl.

The justification he gave was "some people have paid over a million pounds for these houses".

Primafacie Fri 20-Apr-12 12:13:07

Womble, that's so vicious! shock But at least it has the benefit of being honest: money is the real driver of the Save our Rec campaign. The in-catchment gang simply don't want the prime property area around the park to be diluted within a larger catchment area. The rose garden, pavillion and bowling green are all window-dressing. Thankfully I can't see how they could have your daughter expelled from school, especially since the HT and governors support the expansion.

As a Graham road mum, I support the expansion too. Maybe we should get together and fly post as the Save our Rec gang do? Seriously though, is there anywhere we can formally express our support for the expansion? My DD will be in reception next year so I'm starting to get fidgety!

On other news, the Save our Rec nimbies finally got Peter Walker sacked as education spokesman yesterday. That's a real shame, he was such a strong supporter of local schools for local children. Peter, if you are still reading this thread, I really appreciated your hard work. Thank you for standing up to the bullies, and sorry you got scapegoated.

Oh, and finally can I say I am pissing myself laughing at the suggestion that the expansion to a further 300m perimeter around the park, will "dumb down" the school. As if they put something special in the water around Dundonald park so that the kids end up much brighter than those two streets further away grin The OP's arrogance is staggering. I would also quite like to know what exactly the OP expects the council to do about "ethnic diversity"? It sounds quite sinister actually.

gazzalw Fri 20-Apr-12 12:30:17

What on earth is wrong with any type of diversity??? What most of us want is for our children to go to school with a total mix of children so they develop an understanding and empathy with other social and cultural norms to their own.

The whole campaign smacks of Not Quite Our Class Darling! Yuk, yuk, yuk in 21st Century London. Shame on them

And Dundonald isn't necessarily top of the Merton schools anyway. It depends what tools you use to judge the schools by!

And did no-one tell these people that you do get an awful lot of above average intelligence children not living in houses worth £1 million!

This sounds like a Middle-Englander type comment to me....

wimbledonian Fri 20-Apr-12 12:49:46

Funny how the OP never came back to explain the issue about diversity hmm

The latest flyer from the Council quite clearly shows that there is no increase to the footprint of the buildings. Yes, the bowling green will go, but in all my years of using the park I have never once seen anyone using it. And there's a green in John Innes park which can be used instead.

I think it's disgusting that people have been intimidated angry for being in favour.

Primafacie Fri 20-Apr-12 13:12:46

Gazzalw, I very much fear there are an awful lot of parents who really do not want their "children to go to school with a total mix of children"

Gosh, the OP must hold me in great contempt - seeing as I am the dumb mum of dumb "half-casts" grin. I should expect dog poo on my doorstep shouldn't I smile

gazzalw Fri 20-Apr-12 13:55:09

Yes, I agree Primafacie, and think a lot of them are in Wimbledon. DCs go to one of the less 'fashionable' schools and although it is very good and has a real cultural and social cross-section of Society (which is how we were educated and how we would expect our children to be educated in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the World) I very much fear that it is not chichi because it serves several small council estates. But we have a 'yummy mummy' contingent too and think that every one rubs along quite nicely, thank you very much.

It reminds me of the Bolingbrooke Academy scenario to be quite honest.

GRRRRRR. Makes me so mad... I really don't understand, when Dundonald isn't even a church school, how this small obnoxious clique of self-interested NIMBYists managed to get their own way. Our school is having to take 'bulge' classes for 2012 and 2013 and this is a partly a knock-on effect from this campaign. (We are already a two-form entry school by the way...).

By the way, Mumsnet HQ, how come this campaign-led thread has continued, when the guy hijacking threads with his Save Elliot School campaign had his comments deleted....?

Primafacie Fri 20-Apr-12 14:14:23

Bah, Gazzalw, I think we should let this thread continue! The OP is getting a well-deserved telling off anyway.

gazzalw Fri 20-Apr-12 14:30:34

I wasn't really suggesting the thread was 'pulled' - yes the OP does deserve to be told off roundly.....

The problem is that most of the best schools in Merton are in Wimbledon but why should very middle class children (who have all the advantages anyway) get all the advantages with their state schooling too? I am pretty sure that there are loads of parents who would prefer to send their DCs to a school like Dundonald (in a lovely setting) rather than some of the grim primaries in Mitcham...

Sorry this is making my blood boil!

Primafacie Tue 24-Apr-12 15:04:49

Just by way of update, Dundonald school had 436 applications for 30 reception places this year. They took 10 siblings in, which left 426 applications for 20 school places - or 21 applications per place. I think we can safely say that this is more "selective" than most private schools.

This accounts in part for the fact that property prices around the school have shot up dramatically in recent years.

So there you have it - parents who bought the right to send their children to that school (by buying overpriced property in the immediate vicinity) do not want the value of their investment to go down (in absolute or relative terms), which will happen if the "catchment area" around the school gets wider than the existing 200 metres.

wimbledonian Tue 24-Apr-12 15:23:44

Primafacie, does that include people putting it as 6th option (or however many you are allowed?) Even so, it is a boggling figure and supports the fact that the school needs to expand.
Is it true that Peter Walker was sacked for taking down the illegally placed posters advertising the bike fixing event? I think I might have to take down the ones that have appeared in my street if they are illegal.

Primafacie Tue 24-Apr-12 15:56:35

Wimbledonian - yes and yes.

Fly posting is illegal. Removing fly posters is not illegal, therefore I cannot see who would have any cause to complain if you removed the Save our Rec posters.

The reason Peter Walker was sacked is entirely political - he did not breach any law or regulation, but I assume the council thought it looked partisan and therefore was not appropriate given his role as education spokesman.

You can also report fly posting here, although it is mightily irritating to think the council should waste its resources on that.

wimbledonian Tue 24-Apr-12 16:11:05

The whole situation is infuriating; the NIMBYism and the attempts to stop "diversity", which the OP has never explained adequately. The other schools in the area have all had to expand so what makes Dundonald so special? As you can tell, I am quite cross about this, despite having no interest in getting a school place there, just as a local resident who is fed up of the whole thing.

Primafacie Tue 24-Apr-12 16:40:00

Wimbledonian, you are a bigger person than most! I confess I have a vested interest as my DD needs a reception place in 2013. But you are right, this is nymbyism at its best.

wimbledonian Tue 24-Apr-12 16:42:11

Best of luck to you, Primafacie. Would Dundonald be your closest school then? I know quite a few people who could have put Dundonald down and would have had a good chance of getting in, but decided they preferred Wimbledon Chase instead.

Primafacie Tue 24-Apr-12 16:47:52

Yes, Dundonald is our closest school and if the expansion goes ahead we should be in catchment. Sadly we are not in the WC APA so don't have that as an option.

wimbledonian Tue 24-Apr-12 18:06:54

Primafacie, I'm not completely up to date on how the APA works but I do know that people have got into the school in very recent years (children currently in KS1, so in the last couple of years) who weren't in the APA. So presumably if there are not 90 applicants from the APA places will go to applicants based on distance to school. It sounds like there might be a whisker of a chance for you, would at least be worth finding out.

Primafacie Tue 24-Apr-12 18:48:54

Thanks, I didn't know that! Will definitely put it down as one of our choices then. I know that in 2011 and 2012 they did not allocate any places outside of the APA but you are right, these things can and do change.

We are in a catchment void - too far from all the "local" schools to get in any of them. I know people think I am exaggerating, but seriously, I called the council to find out which school we would have been allocated based on last year's (2011) figures and was told Joseph Hood - that is the 10th school in terms of distance to us!? shock confused

bonita99 Tue 24-Apr-12 20:38:21

Just saw this thread and had to comment...

My son is to begin reception this September and we've just received the dreaded letter that we didn't get into Dundonald or any other Wimbledon primary school but they are delighted to offer us a place at Liberty in Mitcham 2.5 miles away! shock confused
Btw we live within 200m of Dundonald and aren't in the APA area either.

gazzalw Tue 24-Apr-12 20:43:51

I feel for you.... We wouldn't and didn't send DCs to the Liberty - why would you??? Hold out for something better as I'm sure something will come up!

wimbledonian Tue 24-Apr-12 22:51:09

How far did Dundonald entry stretch this year? 200m and no place is just shocking. There is likely to be some movement on waiting lists surely, so get on as many as you can.
Good luck, I really feel for you.

Primafacie Wed 25-Apr-12 00:03:04


The furthest distance from DPS this year is 217m. Bonita, have you checked your distance with the council? They will tell you if you phone them.

shock at you being offered Liberty

lostboysfallin Wed 25-Apr-12 00:13:43

Bonita, what did you put down as your other choices?
Being offered Liberty is just bizarre

wimbledonian Wed 25-Apr-12 00:44:25

I would have assumed that you would have been allocated Joseph Hood, as that's usually undersubscribed. I can't believe they would expect you to travel to Mitcham shock
Primafacie, someone obviously had the same idea as me, as there were no posters up this afternoon and even the music festival poster had been torn down.

designerbaby Wed 25-Apr-12 09:27:32

I think Joseph Hood was full - we weren't offered it and we're EXTREMELY close. Surprised you didn't get offered Hillcross... a BIT closer (but not much). Imagine if you're 200m from Dundonald it would be worth going on the waiting list... Even they must get a BIT of movement.

I'm furious about the sacking of Peter Walker. There appears to be no grounds other than sucking up to a minority group, and a knee-jerk populist response. I too hope he's still watching this thread, and can see the support he's getting.

'Save our [flippin'] Rec'. The only thing which is going is the bowling green. From what I can see of the plans online NONE of the Rec will be touched. I tell ya, I see another one of their hysterical 'bricked up' gate posters, I'll bloody tear it down.

They can't fire me - I'm self employed!


bonita99 Wed 25-Apr-12 10:52:08

Thanks everyone for the advice smile ... we're told that we'll be put on each of the waiting lists of the preferred schools we had chosen once the admissions are confirmed but even then its a long shot.

We were told by the council last year that 200m away was borderline and to say we were shocked and confused by that is an understatement but to be given a place all the way in Mitcham is really unbelievable.

I thought they'd made a mistake so i have rang them and they gave me the same oversubscribed mumbo jumbo !!!

I've been in a state of shock and anger these past few days and seeing those 'Save the Rec' posters everywhere aren't helping my mood either.

And if Peter Walker is following this thread please know you've still got plenty of support !!!

designerbaby Wed 25-Apr-12 10:57:35

It's a nightmare... Have you considered going private? There are a few independent schools in the area who may still have space or could make space, if this is something you could afford and/or would consider...


Primafacie Wed 25-Apr-12 11:27:56

Good luck Bonita. I think (but someone can correct me if I'm wrong) you can also get on the waiting lists of schools you did not apply to. Pretty much any school in Wimbledon would be better than a place in Mitcham!

Also if you really are within 200m of Dundonald you should have been offered a place - they went to 217m this year, so you would have grounds to appeal.

Go tear down some Save our Rec posters wink

designerbaby Wed 25-Apr-12 12:28:48

Let's go down en-masse and take 'em all down...
Safety in numbers - we can take 'em.

wimbledonian Wed 25-Apr-12 14:38:06

Designerbaby, which school were you offered? I assume that because of the WCPS APA many people who would have applied to WCPS previously but were closer to JH are now having to go to JH, thus making it full. It seems crazy that having created so many extra classes, there still isn't space for all the children in a local school.

designerbaby Wed 25-Apr-12 15:07:54

Wimbledonian - we're 10 houses outside the APA for WCPS, and less than 400 yards away from the school gate. In fact, by a quirk of the shape of the AP we're about at the closest point you can be to WCPS without being inside the APA.

We were offered Hillcross - 900 yards in oposite direction from - well, the rest of our lives, really. That wasn't the issue, though, I just didn't like the approach to education there, despite the glowing recent Ofsted. Not for me/us at all. I was a bit disappointed as I had high hopes, but it made my head hurt TBH.


Primafacie Wed 25-Apr-12 15:11:04

According to Merton Council's website, JH was not oversubscribed - all on time applications were accepted: allocation

designerbaby Wed 25-Apr-12 15:44:11

Must have been pretty near, then... because we're REALLY close. We didn't put it down as one of our choices, and it obviously didn't have enough free spaces to offer it as our closest one with space IYSWIM...


designerbaby Wed 25-Apr-12 15:57:04

Thanks for the link Prima,
Just realise my friend missed out on Dundonald by about 20m... Have you seen the radius? That's just nuts...


wimbledonian Wed 25-Apr-12 16:07:13

Wow, some of those sibling numbers are just unbelievable - Merton Park only had 10 non sibling places available. I wonder how far the non-sibling distance extended to. Even with Dundonald, the 217m candidate may have been a sibling and the non-siblings may live within tens of metres of the school shock

wimbledonian Wed 25-Apr-12 16:10:45

This is quite interesting http://www.merton.gov.uk/learning/schools/changingschool/admissions/school-applications-and-transfers/vacancy-information.htm
Various sought after schools do have vacancies in higher year groups, which means it may well be worth staying on a waiting list and seeing what happens (assuming you are happy to move your child mid-year)

wimbledonian Wed 25-Apr-12 16:11:36

I'll try again!

school vacancies

designerbaby Wed 25-Apr-12 16:17:43

That's WEIRD. I thought they allocated you a place at the school closest to you with vacancies... It says Joseph Hood has vacancies ???

Not that it makes a difference, mind.


p.s. I think the only way to get into Merton Park is to pitch camp in the playground and claim squatters rights grin

wimbledonian Wed 25-Apr-12 16:43:04

I think that's current Reception year rather than Reception year 2012-13, but still, it might well mean there are vacancies then as well.

Primafacie Wed 25-Apr-12 16:47:18

Wimbledonian, the way it works is that if you are a sibling, you automatically get in, so that distance is not even considered or assessed by the council. Therefore the distance criterion is always only for non-siblings. So for Dundonald, 217m is the further distance for non-sibs.

I wonder what's the deal around Merton Park, they always have a massive siblings intake! I have visions of families with 10 kids each, living all around the school wink

Primafacie Wed 25-Apr-12 16:48:13

*furthest (not further) distance for non-sibs

wimbledonian Wed 25-Apr-12 16:55:19

ah ok, so the distances given are the non-sibling ones. That's slightly less depressing, although still depressing nonetheless.

bonita99 Wed 25-Apr-12 18:25:34

Ok so i spoke to the council again and now we're 225m away from Dundonald shockangryconfused !!!

wimbledonian Wed 25-Apr-12 18:58:35

8 metres too far - such bad luck. But surely you must be top of the waiting list? Is there any chance they might just add a bulge class in advance of the expansion? It's what they've done at other schools in the past. Though where they'd fit the extra class is anyone's guess.

Primafacie Thu 26-Apr-12 09:57:26

Oh Bonita shock! You have got to be top of the list though. I'm sure some places will come up - if I remember right, the Wimbledon High assessment is after state school applications, so it takes just one little girl who got an offer from WH and you're in...

bonita99 Thu 26-Apr-12 23:06:57

I guess its a game of wait and see now but tbh i'm pretty peeved and had enough of the whole thing sad

Now i don't know the details but the timing is just off to me .... a house (closer to Dundonald) has just gone on the market and their kid got in and they only moved into the place last summer !!! hmm

wimbledonian Fri 27-Apr-12 00:06:45

hmm Bonita, how galling for you. It seems like quite a few families do move away once they've got in, judging from the places where I pass kids on their way to school.

gazzalw Fri 27-Apr-12 06:14:40

That's really blatant isn't it???? Think the Council should be more rigorous in ensuring that if a family gets a sought-after place, they stay put for at least six months....So potentially, this famjly, whose house has just gone on the market, could have upped and moved out of the tiny catchment area by the time their child starts at Dundonald. Shame on them!

womble25 Fri 27-Apr-12 13:57:36

This document:

confirms that only 0.6% (that's six one-thousandths) of the green space in 'the rec' will be lost by the school expansion plan.

bonita, I'm so sorry to hear that you just missed out.

I think it's desparately unfair that the 'Save Our Rec' bullies are willing to sacrifice children's education (other people's children, naturally) in order to artificially inflate their own house-prices.

designerbaby, I think the best way to get our voices heard is to respond in writing to the planning consultation, when it takes place.

Annby Sat 28-Apr-12 11:08:05

Does anyone know what happens after the Council submitted planning application? As I know it takes 8 weeks, and if it's approved, then construction can commence. But what about all this upper tribunal application etc? Or 'save our rec' are loosing the battle? when do you think we'll know the answer?

Primafacie Sat 28-Apr-12 12:58:21

The upper tribunal application is still pending I think. Planning permission has not been obtained yet. They are behind schedule by a couple of months at least.

piji Mon 30-Apr-12 14:43:42

A new blog on this issue is here:


piji Tue 01-May-12 11:41:47

Local journalist Omar Oakes <ooakes@london.newsquest.co.uk> is interested in talking to people who have been affected by this issue, and are willing to go on the record.

bonita, I think it would be worth you telling him your story - more publicity could get more school places opened up.

I'm sure he'd also be interested in hearing from anyone who's felt intimidated by the "Save Our Rec" crew, and is willing to talk about it.

Primafacie Thu 03-May-12 10:38:58

Update - the planning application has finally been submitted and is now available online. I can't link to the application itself for some reason, but the application number is 12/P1058 and the search engine for all planning applications is here.

The link explains how to provide comments on the application.

Please express your support and spread the word (to supporters of the expansion, of course grin). The consultation period is only a few weeks long and I have no doubt that the Save Our Rec gang will flood the council with the same old objections. We desperately need more local school places in the area. It is not fair that our children should go to their 10th nearest school (or worse).

Feel free to bump smile

designerbaby Fri 04-May-12 12:05:17

HI Prima,
Thanks for this and duly bumping...

However, where can one respond? Can't see how on the link - but possibly am being a dullard... blush

Response letters make, erm, interesting reading...

Along the lines of:

"Rant rant rant, don't build on the rec. I haven't paid any attention to plans, or proposed scheme, but don't change anything. Ever. Rant rant, I've no idea what you're planning, really, and I don't care. Rant, rant. i just don't like CHANGE, mumble, rant. No, I haven't noticed (or commented on) the fact that planned encroachment is a teeny 0.6% of current rec and will make not one iota of difference to the usage of the area, and in fact it will all look a whole lot better. Because I'm not going to LOOK because I'm too busy ranting. I'm far more interested in the focussing on the covenant "to the letter" rather than using my common sense and keeping to the spirit of the covenant. Rant rant. Oh and I don't really give a stuff about the education of local children. I like the playground just as it is and absolutely despise you for planning on making it better. How very DARE you improve local facilities! You're going to build flats ALL OVER the rec. Even though you're not I'm going to make out that you are! [and make stupid posters] Rant, rant. Yours, V. Meldrew."


Is that your take-out too?


Primafacie Fri 04-May-12 14:39:44

how to comment

I particulary enjoy the reference to our "forefathers" having wanted to protect this "jewel of London open space" (or words to that effect). It's a park. It's not central park. And it's not the declaration of independence ffs! grin

AnyParent Mon 07-May-12 00:20:34

Typical, blame others for their views. Where were you championing the building of new school places when the Council was building new homes for young families in Merton? Blame the Council members who have avoided all responsibility and ignored published data on population trends until it became a really desperate issue. Retaliate with the people who have let us all down. Write to them with your dissatisfaction and don't take it out on people with a right to their view.

Primafacie Mon 07-May-12 03:30:02

Anyparent, you are right that the coucil should have planned it better, and created more school places earlier, but that would only have meant Dundonald school being expanded five years ago instead of now, so that argument doesn't go anywhere. There doesn't seem to be any suitable local site for building a school in the town centre which is where school places are needed. Short of going back in time, what do you suggest could be done now to offer school places to local children? Are you aware of the fact that there are a few streets near Dundonald where there is a catchment void - which means they are too far from any of the 10 nearest schools to get in any? Shouldn't these families have an equal right to local school places? What is the alternative for people like bonita, whose child will have to travel to Mitcham despite living 225m from the school?

As for blaming others for their views, it is hard not to feel strongly about people who claim our children would 'dumb down' 'their' school. I don't see you denouncing the intimidation of local families who support the expansion, as has been reported up thread, so you are hardly in a position to claim the moral high ground. Yes, I understand that people who live opposite the park will face disturbance from the expansion, but that is the cost of living in society - your local area has changed, it now has many more families, and the rec is not your private property, so you can't treat it as if it were and attempt to keep others out of it. There is a balancing of interests that is required, and in my view, education trumps bowling.

AnyParent Mon 07-May-12 15:39:40

To point out the responsibility of our elected representatives is not a moral stance. It is their role in our society which determines how resources are allocated and money spent. So start by lobbying them now as there are hurdles that parents have to get to grips with at all stages of children's education, especially in Merton.

The repeated phrase that there is no alternative to the expansion of Dundonald School is a mantra which is probably self-fulfilling. However, this superficial 'can't do' attitude mimics the 'Save the Park' zealotry.

So, it's okay for Bishop Gilpin School to vote not to expand, but not Dundonald? The Chase has expanded, was it enough? The Council sold off the bequested private school on the corner of Dorset Road, could that have been used? Rutlish School has ample land for a school. Of course, there is Wimbledon Common!

Children are our future. The growth in numbers is making many of us compromise on our choices, and bow the voice of the majority.

piji Mon 07-May-12 19:33:16

AnyParent, Bishop Gilpin is a church school. Legally, it cannot be forced to expand. I would say it's not very Christian for them to say "we're ok, screw everybody else", but that's - legally - rather beside the point.

I'd have been quite happy with the Tory school-building plan - I thought it was a pretty decent plan, I said so in the consultation. It was a shame when the Labour council cancelled it. I was also absolutely fine with the idea of a school on the former Manor House site (corner of Dorset Rd) - it was a shame that was found to be too small.

Equally, I think the current school expansion plan is fairly decent. It does no harm to the Rec (in fact it improves the pavilion facilities). No loss of open space, over 99% of the Rec still covered by the restrictive covenant, larger children's playground. The bowling green goes, but that's going anyway.

Most of the alternative sites you mention are not in the Dundonald area. If you look upthread you'll see a parent living 235m from Dundonald school whose child has just not got in to the school.

The problem is not, as you suggest above, that there has been extra house-building elsewhere in the borough, and that that's putting pressure on schools in the Dundonald area; the problem is that:

1) there's a baby boom, and

2) under normal economic conditions, a proportion of people move house further out of London just before their children start primary school - that's not happening at the moment because of the recession, and

3) under normal economic conditions, more people elect to send their children to fee-paying schools - again, the recession has reduced that proportion.

You seem to suggest that the NIMBY's views should not be criticised because they're sincerely held; I have two problems with that:

1) If they're sincerely held but they're harmful to part of our society - children, who do need to be educated - then I see no reason they should be above criticism, and

2) I don't think that the "Save Our Rec" clique are being honest when they say (for example) that the Council plans to close the Rec and build flats on the site. They know that there is no such plan. So that's not a 'view' so much as a 'lie'.

Ultimately, a solution to the school-places crisis which involves us travelling back in time and making a different decision three years ago is not a very practical solution. Neither is punishing children (by depriving them of an education) for the mistakes of politicians. I'm annoyed with both parties for using this issue as a political football - but children need school places.

Blame away, but it's not a good argument against creating school places.

There are certainly some old people in the area who've been frightened by the NIMBYs' scare-mongering into believing that the Council plans to close the Rec and build on the whole site - them I feel sorry for. But that's an argument for publicising the facts about the expansion scheme, not for withholding criticism of the NIMBYs.

AnyParent Tue 08-May-12 01:23:04

Beside the point. The Bishop Gilpin decision has had a knock on effect within the Borough which has been profound. The affordable new building for young couples has not included social amenities including schools. Go and see reality.

No parents/constituents made cogent arguments against this travesty.

Dundonald School, The Chase School, The Willows School, The Castles School and The London University of Arts all within 5 minute walk. This is the highest density of individual educational establishments in the borough. It does affect us and our locality. So do not tar us all with the brush of NIMBY.

Condescending remarks of the elderly's understanding of Council planning is a real low.

The children need places. Join the rat race and learn to compromise. Like the rest of us, the first choice may not be possible. The alternatives available mean that parental efforts in travel and involvement in scholastic events are onerous. It's not easy being a parent in Merton.

wimbledonian Tue 08-May-12 01:35:34

Anyparent, it is irrelevant that the 2 nursery schools and the art college are close by - that doesn't help people who need primary school places. And people who live 225m from the school are hardly going to drive to it, so that won't affect the traffic. I think I read that the furthest likely distance any pupil would be from the proposed expanded school is 400m so traffic will not increase.
Several schools expanded some time ago eg Wimbledon Chase went to 3 form entry 4 years ago, but my understanding is that all the obvious schools have now expanded and so now some of the less obvious schools need to expand.

Primafacie Tue 08-May-12 06:20:18

Anyparent, it is not just the first choice that is not possible - it is the TEN first choices.

One of the problems in the borough is the number of voluntary aided schools that only take CofE/Catholic pupils, making them closed to pupils of other or no faith. Because of this, non religious schools also need to expand to accomodate these other pupils. I wish state schools could give priority to other and no faith pupils so as to redress that balance, but they can't.

You may deny it all you want, but if Dundonald school does not expand, other schools will have to, some of which already expanded recently. So your position is textbook nimbyism. At the moment local children are being sent to Mitcham schools. Why should Mitcham residents pay the price of Wimbledon's population explosion?

wimbledonian Tue 08-May-12 10:29:02

Anyparent - were you able to get your first choice school? Would you have been happy trekking over to Mitcham every day, twice a day? Especially if you lived within 250 metres of a school?
I still really wish the OP would come back and explain what the "dumbing down" comment was all about, as it baffles me.
Bonita - has there been any movement on waiting lists yet?

AnyParent Tue 08-May-12 15:43:24

Earlier contributors complained about the intimidation of those for expansion by the Save the Rec brigade. It would seem that these responses are of an equivalent nature. I'll go to the relevant bodies to see whether to respond to the Planning Application. Thank you and goodbye.

designerbaby Tue 08-May-12 17:05:27


Anyparent, I don't see anyone being remotely intimidating towards you?

Certainly no-one has threatened to have your children expelled from their school... Which is the type of things the Save The Rec brigade have been up to. That and getting people fired from their jobs. Oh, and making up stories about future building plans (which don't exist) to frighten the more vulnerable and less well informed members of the community.

You have been challenged as to the basis of your opposition which seems to be based around the premise that we shouldn't be in this mess in the first place. Which isn't tremendously helpful, as someone has said, without the benefit of a time machine. But I hardy think that qualifies as intimidation, does it?

I'm baffled, but not entirely surprised.

It's easier to flounce off than offer constructive counter-suggestions to suport your argument that expansion of Dundonald isn't necessary or desirable.

But go on. Flounce away. It does your argument no favours, you know.
Make sure you do sufficient sniffing and hair tossing to do it properly...


bonita99 Tue 08-May-12 18:42:53

Spoke to the council today and they can't tell me where we're on the waiting list for Dundonald and though its 225m away, they make it sound impossible angry

And as a "hard working merton parent" we're on the waiting lists for 2nd,3rd... preference schools too and do know when to compromise and when to politely decline an offer to a school 2.5 miles away.

wimbledonian Tue 08-May-12 18:59:37

Anyparent, please point out where people have been intimidating and I'm sure they'll apologise if they agree. It's much easier not to answer some simple questions and cry foul, isn't it? I speak as someone who had nothing to gain from this proposed expansion; in fact my family will probably be detrimentally affected during the building works, however I recognise that children need an education more than I would be bothered by some noise, traffic and dust.

AnyParent Tue 08-May-12 23:37:12

I withdraw from your discussions as you cannot see where the intimidation lies. In answer to the queries, no my children have not gone to their first choice places. Yes, this has created a hardship. My children are the happiest, nicest people I know and crossing hurdles is worth it. We have a ball.

wimbledonian Tue 08-May-12 23:52:05

Anyparent, I'm sorry your children didn't get their first choice schools and that this has made things hard. Wouldn't you therefore think it would be good if others didn't have to go through the same thing?

designerbaby Wed 09-May-12 09:48:55

Anyparent, no, we can't see the intimidation... Why don't you point it out so that whoever is guilty of it can (and I'm sure will) apologise?

I put down three of my four closest schools - having visited each of them. I wasn't happy with the fourth, so I didn't put it down. We didn't get a place in any, being offered a place instead at one a mile in the opposite direction from the rest of our lives, and in a school I had also visited and which I didn't feel offered even adequate educational standards.

We had suspected this might happen, so we'd lined up private. Financially it's going to be a stretch for our family: I'm self employed and my DH works for a charity. But I appreciate we're fortunate to be in the position to be able to go down this route at all.

Other people aren't. And I'd prefer it if they didn't have to make the kind of decisions we were faced with.

Look. We wouldn't remotely be in the catchment for Dundonald - even with the expansion in place. But these things have a ripple effect, so directly or indirectly we are all affected by the lack of places in the centre of town. We might have stood a chance at Wimbledon Chase, for example, (just 400m from our house) if Dundonald's expansion relieved some of the pressure for places there.

Yes, Bishop Gilpin should probably expand too. But that's another battle for another day, and not the issue at hand.

I'm really glad you and your children are happy and thriving Anyparent. I've no doubt you are doing a great job and your absolute best for them. That's what we're all trying to do, or we probably wouldn't be on this forum.

Thing is, having visited the school we were offered, I'm as convinced as I can be that my children would not be 'having a ball' there. I'm not prepared to have them spend seven hours a day in an environment where I believe they won't thrive, and somewhere I don't feel she will be provided for educationally.

Yes, we could compensate with additional support at home etc. But then I question the value of those 35 hours a week sat – no, not sat, actually, the school in question doesn't believe in desks and chairs – lying, standing, roaming around a school which is doing nothing for her, in an environment of barely contained chaos.

I do, however, use Dundonald Rec and playground regularly, and walk through there daily. I love the Rec and wouldn't see it 'destroyed' for all the world. If that were remotely the plan I too would be up in arms. But it's patently not. We gain 210 places. We lose a tiny fraction of grass – 0.6% of the space. I think that's a pretty good trade, and the closest we'll get to a win/win.

Anyparent, this is simply a healthy debate. An argument, yes. But there's no intimidation or threats here. Just robust opposition. Far better to defend your position and offer alternative solutions to the problem, don't you think? Otherwise it just looks like you're just unable to make your case.

Just saying...


wimbledonian Wed 09-May-12 09:53:40

Hear hear Designerbaby. Incidentally which school were you offered - the mind boggles! PM me if you like.

designerbaby Wed 09-May-12 10:14:37

I will PM you, Wimbledonian, in case anyone else reading has a place there and are delighted about it. I've no desire to p*ss on anyone's bonfire.

I will just add though that this is the school where the deputy head said, on being asked if they hear children read regularly, that no, they didn't, because they don't believe that children learn to read by reading.

Really, it was a bonkers place. And not in a good way...


piji Wed 09-May-12 13:01:02

Anyparent, I'm really glad that your children are thriving at school.

That's what we all want for our kids (and other people's kids).

I'm really glad that you overcame the 'hurdles' that you mention. That must have been (and probably still is) hard work.

I don't agree that it's condescending to show compassion for those people who have been frightened by the "Save Our Rec" scare-mongering. In most cases their house will be their most valuable asset, which they've worked all their lives to own. If I were in their position, and I believed that the value of that asset was at risk, maybe I'd react in the defensive/aggressive way we're seeing, and which a mumsnetter pastiched as the rant from "V Meldrew" above, which I think was what you were responding to originally. Anyhow, I didn't mean to sound condescending.

As far as "intimidation" goes, I can see that it could be intimidating to get responses from a group of people, all of whom disagree with you.

But I don't think it really compares with a "Save Our Rec" supporter turning up at your front door and telling you to take down your poster in favour of school expansion, or their anonymous friends will get your child expelled from the school.

I also think that it's easier to pour scorn on mumsnetters ("Where were you when X?" "Ah, Y - a new low!") than it is to engage with the substance of the debate on the school expansion scheme itself, which you haven't really done.

The proposed scheme:

- doesn't at all affect 99.4% of the Rec, which will remain covered by the restrictive covenant.

- doesn't affect the amount of open space.

- improves the pavilion facilities.

- enlarges the children's playground.

- provides desparately (*desparately*) needed school places.

About the only negative point I can see is that the bowling green will be closed; but that's going to be closed anyway.

So what's to object to?

(I mean in the scheme itself, not in me personally - if you like we can take it as read that I and other mumsnetters are just the worst people in the world, if that helps us to move on from ad hominem attacks).

I guess there's the noise and dust of the building work - for me that seems a price worth paying for education.

piji Wed 09-May-12 13:03:38

db - just a little factual correction - we don't actually lose even 0.6% of the open space.

0.6% is the area of the Rec on which the restrictive covenant will (if the council wins their case) be varied to allow the new pavilion/school building to be built, but that open space isn't lost because after the new pavilion is built, the old one will be demolished and replaced with trees, grass etc.

Stuart456 Wed 09-May-12 13:19:04



I can't see why the Lib Dems are opposed to the expansion of Dundonald school. I'd expect them to be on the side of education.

designerbaby Wed 09-May-12 13:37:49

piji, Thanks – you just made me snort coffee all over my keyboard with your not-at-all-condescending wikipedia link...

grin grin grin


piji Wed 09-May-12 13:55:30

whoops - I seem to have done it again - sorry!

designerbaby Wed 09-May-12 14:08:03

And now I have a vision of you in a red pvc jumpsuit á la Britney.
And more coffee in my keyboard...

grin shock

piji Wed 09-May-12 16:06:29

Shit, is the webcam switched on? blush

Primafacie Mon 14-May-12 14:33:36

Piji, I just noticed the webchat with mayoral candidates. Well done for putting the expansion of Dundonald school on the political agenda.

I can't wait to attend the planning committee hearing - this will be fun.

designerbaby Mon 14-May-12 17:23:48

Interesting... is there a link?

Primafacie Mon 14-May-12 18:52:07
OliviaL Mon 14-May-12 20:49:17

DB, off topic slightly but could you please PM me the name of that scho too? I am new to the area and just trying to get a feel for schools for next year. Thanks!

Primafacie Fri 18-May-12 10:50:10

Update - it turns out there are at least 5 other children (in addition to Bonita's) who live less than 420 metres from Dundonald and were offered a place at Liberty school in Mitcham.

piji Fri 18-May-12 12:31:01

Oh well, that's only 3km away - a short walk for any 4-year-old.

And it's an OFSTED grade 3 (euphemistically 'satisfactory') when you get there.

Evidently the NIMBY whose consultation response said that the school should not be expanded because they'd have to change their jogging route has a point - there's no lack of school places in the Dundonald area.


Primafacie - could you pass that info to Omar at the wimbledon guardian? (email address is above).

piji Fri 18-May-12 12:36:18

Last call for responses to the planning consultation - the deadline expires soon.

So far the vast majority of responses are the usual NIMBY expressions of self-interest - if you are in favour of the school expansion and you want your voice to be heard, then now is the time.

The planning application:

How to comment:

"To comment on, or object to a current planning application, please submit it by email to:
You should include the following details:

Application reference number ( 12/P1058 )
Your name
Your address
Planning application description
Your comments

Please note that comments submitted to the council cannot be treated as confidential and will be made available for public inspection without exception. This includes your email address if you send an email."

Wimbledonian Fri 18-May-12 14:14:40

Have a look at the Representation letter on 11/5/12. A case of someone using copy and paste rather badly confused here

Primafacie Fri 18-May-12 14:43:53

Thanks Piji. The information is available to anyone who makes a FOI request to the council, which is what I did.

The representations on the planning application make for very sorry reading. What I find most extraordinary is the number of people who are refusing to admit the fact that there is a shortage of school places. It's almost as if they think the council is expanding schools just for the fun of it, or to spite them confused

I have some sympathy for people who are pointing out that a significant number of pupils live out of catchment, but get in through the siblings priority rule. My personal view is that siblings priority should be scrapped, but this is a borough-wide concern that would be extremely difficult to implement. More importantly, while it would reshuffle some pupils around, it would not create additional school places overall, when we know for a fact that more school places are needed.

I am surprised at how few people have expressed support. Clearly we are not organised enough!

Primafacie Fri 18-May-12 14:46:32

Wimbledonian - I saw that too grin

Clearly written by someone who is fully aware of his community!

piji Fri 18-May-12 15:07:20

Yeah, the existing comments are here under 'representations':

It doesn't really surprise me how many people are simply denying that there is any shortage of school places in the Dundonald area - that's the message that "Save Our Rec" has been putting out.

I can't see those comments being given much weight in the planning process or at appeal though. "Save Our Rec" can say that the sky is green, but that doesn't make it so.

DLD10 Sat 19-May-12 14:36:20

Thanks Stuart456, we've posted a reply to your comment onhttp://dundonaldlibdems.focusteam.org.uk/2012/03/19/maintaining-the-facilities-at-dundonald-rec/

Like piji says, it's hugely depressing how many people don't seem to understand the shortage of school places in the borough, or those who seem to think that the solutions are easy.

We're trying to encourage as many people as possible to have their say, whether for or against (and to do what we can to improve the quality of those comments, so that people are raising issues that that Planning Applications Committee can actually take into account!)

We've set out how to here: dundonaldlibdems.focusteam.org.uk/2012/05/11/merton-council-set-out-plans-to-expand-dundonald-primary/

We've also included a section on the decision our local branch reached, which was something our members and supporters have agonised over long and hard. It's not an easy decision at all.

designerbaby Sun 20-May-12 21:43:20

Hi piji

I've sent an email to the planning dept. supporting the scheme.

I was, however, alarmed by the volume of negative representations and the paltry number of those supporting the scheme.

Please, if you've commented here, take the time to do so to the planning dept. That's where it will really make a difference.

Oh and I couldn't help but reply to the Lib Dems, whose finger-pointing, fence-sitting and entirely non-constructive response really made me see red.

If political parties want to openly oppose such a scheme then they better make bloody sure they have a better, considered alternative to offer. They clearly didn't, and haven't... Poor show. Really poor show.

The 'Save Our Rec' brigade may be deeply unpleasant from where I'm standing, but they're pretty bloody successful. It's all a bit depressing, that threats intimidation and scaremongering are shown to be tactics that work, if you're prepared to stoop to that level.



Primafacie Sun 20-May-12 22:03:31

DLD, I think your position is an absolute disgrace and I hope you get plenty of visibility here so that the Dundonald Lib Dems are shown in their true light. You have lost my vote, and I expect many others, with your short sighted position.

You are quick to note the council's public space policy -but what about the education policy? Do you not care that the council is unable to provide local school places in Wimbledon? Do you think it is fair on parents who are denied the basic right to have their child educated locally?

You say expanding the school will increase traffic in the area. Do you realise that by opposing the expansion, you are effectively supporting the status quo, which is for local children who could easily WALK to Dundonald, who live 250 metres from the school, to be bussed 2 miles away in Mitcham for reception? Because this is what is happening at the moment. I'd say it is pretty obvious which is worse, traffic-wise. But I guess you don't really care about traffic jams in Mitcham, as long as the Fairlawn gang can jog in peace?

If Dundonald does not expand, what is the alternative for local families who cannot get access to local education? What are you proposing can be done to redress this situation now - i.e. September 2012-2013? I would quite like to know, as the council is unable to name me one single state school in Wimbledon where my children fit the admission criteria. I don't care whether this is the result of poor planning or who is to blame for it - I want a resolution so that my daughter can go to school next year. Pray tell where should I send her if Dundonald does not expand?

You are burying your head in the sand by pandering to the Save the Rec activists. I suggest you go back and "agonise" a bit longer about your position, as you have clearly failed to appreciate the fact that a vast number of your constituents want their children to have access to local education. Shame on you for playing petty political games on the back of four year olds.

Primafacie Sun 20-May-12 22:06:39

Cross post DB! smile

Primafacie Mon 21-May-12 11:26:45

See Peter Walker's letter to the Wimbledon Guardian editor today here

smiffy21 Mon 21-May-12 13:08:54


Hi Wimbledon / Dundonald Liberal Democrats,

I voted for you.

Not just for the party but for you specifically - I live in the Dundonald area.

I've voted Lib Dem for quite a few years, because I've wanted to cast my vote somewhat to the left of New Labour, and because I want our society to be one in which we all take responsibility for looking out for one another.

I'm a socialist in a small way - not the kooky Socialist Worker type, but I just think that things like universal education are a good in our society.

In the case of the Dundonald school expansion, you're standing with the wealthy, selfish house-price NIMBYs, and against the education of our community's children.

"Some of these houses cost over a million pounds" is not a good reason to deny our community's children the good, local education which they deserve - regardless of the various fig-leaves which the "Save Our Rec" campaigners have been hiding behind.

What do you have to say to families like that of Bonita99 (see above) who have no school place within a few kms - and no good school plce at all?

Is it:

"Your children don't matter"


"You're not rich enough for your kids to deserve a good education"

or simply

"We don't care la-la-la-la fingers in ears not listening"


7% of 4-year-olds in Wimbledon do not have a school place in any of their 6 chosen schools.

Where's the social justice in that?

If you're going to support the interests of the self-centred rich against the interests of the wider community then it would be more honest of you to run as Tories - as least when you vote Tory, you know what you're getting.

I won't be voting for you again.

wimbledonian Mon 21-May-12 13:44:57

I wonder if how the Save the Rec campaign are feeling today, now that one of their main arguments has been shot to smithereens.

You know, the one about Dundonald only being an outstanding school because it is small and single entry (implicit in this is the fact that only people who live in £1m houses can get in)

Well, interestingly, the Ofsted report on Wimbledon Chase has just been released - yes, the 3 form entry, newly expanded school which serves a much wider ethnic and social mix than Dundonald.

The result? Outstanding in all areas.

Makes the "dumbing down" accusations look rather stupid, doesn't it?

DLD10 Mon 21-May-12 14:30:11

Primafacie, designerbaby & smiffy21: I'm sorry you feel that way, but that's the way it is. We're a democratic organisation, and that's the decision reached by our local members and supporters.

Primafacie - you ask what's being done to "redress the situation now ie September 2012-2013". It's a good question, but backing the school expansion provides no redress for children in September 2012. Even if the expansion goes ahead, the planning application and building work will not likely be completed before then. Whether Dundonald Primary expands or not, your daughter is unfortunately not going to be able to go there this year. And sadly there are no short term solutions. The only solution is for a proper plan of school building to be put in place. I'm sorry that the decision we have taken as a group is one you disagree with (and you won't be the first or last to do so) and that our expression of that position has angered you. I'll be the first to admit that parents who want their children to attend that school are likely to disagree with us on this point.

designerbaby - I don't really understand how our response is "fence-sitting" given we've clearly taken a position. And whether people like it or not, the reason we're in the position we're in is because school land was sold off in the '80s, 90s and 2000s - and because since then no one has thought too much about how we're going to deal with rising birth rates. I'm also sorry that you're so annoyed we dared to come and explain our position here.

smiffy21 - You say "In the case of the Dundonald school expansion, you're standing with the wealthy, selfish house-price NIMBYs, and against the education of our community's children."

It is hugely clear that there need to be more school places in the borough. This is why almost half of the borough's primaries have now been expanded, and in due course why many of our secondary schools will be expanded.

I want to make two points:

(1) Let's not pretend that doubling the size of existing schools is an ideal solution - nor a good thing in its own right as Merton Council would have us think. The proposal for Dundonald suggests doubling the numbers of pupils and teachers but only increasing the floorspace by 35%. Arguably, one of the good things about Dundonald is its small, friendly nature. The new Dundonald would be a much bigger and more cramped place. You may feel that's a risk worth taking in order to get your child into the school, but you may not, and it's not an unreasonable position.

(2) It's not clear to me quite how opposition to the school expansion is about protecting house prices for "wealthy people". If anything, expansion would increase the value of homes of those who suddenly find themselves in the slightly expanded catchment area if expansion goes ahead.

piji Mon 21-May-12 14:38:24

So your plan is that we all hop in a time machine, go back to the '80s, '90s and 2000s, and prevent the sell-off of school land?

If that's not your plan then what is your plan?

I think the Tardis is fully booked.

Re "(2) It's not clear to me quite how opposition to the school expansion is about protecting house prices for "wealthy people". If anything, expansion would increase the value of homes of those who suddenly find themselves in the slightly expanded catchment area if expansion goes ahead."

Yes, expansion will increase property values for those homes which are inside the newly expanded catchment area. There will be a corresponding decrease in value for those homes which are right now inside the current, very small, catchment area, because those property-owners will no longer have a monopoly on school places at Dundonald.

Co-incidentally, those properties, which are highly desirable because they currently have exclusive access to Dundonald, are exactly where the "Save Our Rec" committee have collective investments of millions of pounds!

Primafacie Mon 21-May-12 15:18:57

DLD - "sadly there are no short term solutions". Ah okay then, I will just quit my job and homeschool my children - problem solved. hmm

I agree with you that it is sadly too late for September 2012, and that is a damn shame for parents within our community whose children have been denied access to local schools. As for myself, my daughter will be in reception in September 2013. There is a short term solution for us - the solution is to expand Dundonald school. I am not looking for an "ideal" solution which involves revisiting planning decisions made 20 years ago or more; I just want my children to go to school in Wimbledon, where I have lived for years. Is this so unreasonable?

I don't understand how you can in good conscience say that nothing should be done about this situation.

DLD10 Mon 21-May-12 15:21:55

To fully investigate whether other schools could be expanded if Dundonald can't be (one can support expanding schools as a strategy, but disagree with particular planning applications); or to investigate whether permanent expansion of existing schools is necessary, whilst additional schools are built (deliberate emphasis).

Merton recently set out a list of 50 sites it wants to see developed in the next 10 years, and how it wanted to see them developed - for 45 of those sites it wanted more housing, didn't mention schools once. In my opinion, that's disgraceful.

Again, in my opinion, it's pretty relevant that some of the people who made the decisions to sell-off school land in the past are now the ones deciding what should happen, given that once again we're relying on their judgement.

DLD10 Mon 21-May-12 15:32:45

@Primafacie - it is indeed a damn shame that there is a shortage of school places; and it's not at all unreasonable to want a local school, and I am sorry that your daughter has lost out this year - it's a terrible position to be in.

But does that mean that any criticism of the expansion of one particular school should be silenced? It isn't 'revisiting historical planning applications' to point out that the people who made those fantastic decisions about our schools in the past are still there making the decisions now, telling us that all they can do is expand existing schools.

Please don't get me wrong - and I am here to explain a group decision even if it's one I agree with - there is no one saying that nothing should be done, merely that this particular solution in relation to this particular school is not right.

piji Mon 21-May-12 15:35:37

"To fully investigate" isn't much of a concrete plan, is it?

Our community's children need actual school places, not "investigation", or even "full investigation".

I don't really care whether new places are provided by expansion of existing schools, or by the building of new schools.

Certainly one can object to a specific proposal without objecting in principle to the provision of additional school places.

There are 2 problems with that:

- NIMBY objections can and will be found to any building project. Dundonald NIMBYs are proposing that a new school be built on Wimbledon Common (see upthread). I find it unlikely that residents living near Wimbledon Common would agree with their implicit conclusion that open space is valuable only when it is in the Dundonald area.

- If you're against the Council's proposals, without having any real alternative proposals of your own (and I'm sorry but "investigation" is not a building proposal) then your claim to be in favour of school expansion in principle is rather undercut by your opposition to school expansion in practice.

piji Mon 21-May-12 15:39:01


No-one here is proposing that "any criticism of the expansion of one particular school should be silenced".

That's a straw man argument.

It's the "Save Our Rec" supporters who are trying to silence dissent by making threats to those who publicly support Dundonald school's expansion (again, see upthread).

In fact, I'm glad to see that the case for preservation of open space is being made. I think it's healthy for there to be an open and full discussion.

DLD10 Mon 21-May-12 15:47:56

Piji - I think investigation of alternatives is a perfectly fine plan if it's not been done before and there are valid problems with the proposals being put forward - and as long as the examination of alternatives takes place in a focused way, rather than just flapping about. Rushing into decisions is exactly where and why things go wrong.

Further - as we have stated on our website, we think that any threats and intimidation are completely unacceptable, and hope that any such behaviour has been reported to the police.

Part of the reason we responded to the thread here was to encourage debate on the issue. We're certainly not right on all issues, by any stretch of imagination - as a group or as individuals, but the important thing is that as many people as possible have their say.

piji Mon 21-May-12 15:59:52

Well, I'm glad to see you here discussing it.

Re "investigation of alternatives is a perfectly fine plan if it's not been done before" - have you looked at the FOIA-released list of potential school sites drawn up by the council? (I would link to it but I can't find it on Google right now - but perhaps you've already seen it).

You're saying that the assessment-of-alternatives process, which that document shows, has not been done?

What should have been done that hasn't been done?

How would you do it - and get a new school built - in the remaining very short time?

Re "valid problems with the proposals being put forward" - there's never going to be a proposal with no problems - no traffic, no dust, no noise.

As a society we need to accept that the education of our children is worth a little inconvenience to the baby boomer 'me generation' who seem to be the ones primarily protesting against this proposal (as, I suspect, they would protest against any proposal which involves the slightest amount of inconvenience for them - see for example the respondent who protests that the school should not be extended because it would mean that they would have to change their jogging route).

Primafacie Mon 21-May-12 16:01:37

DLD, yours is a typical political response. But while you are playing the blame game, there is an urgent situation which needs to be addressed, and you are not bringing any actual proposal for a solution to the table.

You may well think that this particular school expanding is not the right solution, and of course you are entitled to your views. But as an elected representative for the whole community, what do you have to offer families like mine? Beyond saying no to the expansion, where do you see additional school places available locally?

DLD10 Mon 21-May-12 16:26:36

@Piji - I'm glad to be here to be doing so.

I will readily admit I don't have all the answers - and yes, I've seen the FOI list of potential school sites - the most interesting thing about that list was the difficulty people had getting hold of it, why was the Council so keen to stop people from looking at its decision-making process?

You're right that there is never going to be a proposal with no problems, but the ones you list are largely temporary problems to do with the building process - which is not why we object. We feel as a group that the problems with the permanent expansion of Dundonald are more permanent ones - the slippery slope in terms of loss of open space. The proposal is not in accordance with local planning rules, nor necessarily with land law, that protect open space. Given there's a need for around 5 more forms of entry for primary places in the next 3 years, and a huge need for secondary places over the next 5 - I think we could in a few years see further calls for parts of the Rec to be appropriated, especially with all the additional housing planned in the borough, currently with little thought for infrastructure like schools. The 2nd issue that our group decided on was that the school will become much more cramped - doubling the kids but only increasing the site by 35%. Not only does this make Dundonald a less attractive school, but it adds to the pressure to take more of the Rec in the future, to give the children more space.

I agree that the jogging objection a very poor one, which will be ignored by the Planning Application Committee I'm sure.

You mention building schools in a short time frame - but there is a third option for the short term besides permanent expansion of schools and new schools, which is temporary bulge years - Dundonald took one last year. Use of bulge years can give the time for longer term plans to build new schools to be put in place. Or there may be other primaries that wish to expand (I note that Dundonald parents were split 50-50 in the recent consultation).

@Primafacie I'm sorry you don't feel my answers have been good enough. I should point out first, that I'm not an elected representative, but a volunteer rep from a volunteer group (Dundonald has Conservative councillors, with the Lib Dems in 2nd place). What I hope we offer is a recognition that this is a hugely complicated issue, and that it's only going to get worse unless changes are made now to the overall strategy that the Council takes - mainly on the building of houses without adequate planning on schools and GPs etc, and that unfortunately does require planning and investigation of alternatives. In the short term, the Council should be investigating and implementing appropriate temporary or permanent expansion of other schools if places are needed in a particular area, whilst it sorts out a programme of school building.

I also hope I've shown an openness to come here and speak about it, despite knowing our position will be unpopular.

piji Mon 21-May-12 16:37:01

I'm glad you've seen that document (sorry I can't link to it right now).

So sorry to repeat myself but you seem to have ignored me:

* What should be done (in the "full investigation" that you advocate) which hasn't been done already?

* How would you do it - and get a new school built - in the remaining very short time? Criticism of past councils, while it passes the time, doesn't get schools built.

I'm not convinced by the "slippery slope" argument, given that the current proposal doesn't sacrifice any open space at all. The school will use the MUGA during school hours, yes, but it does that now. So no change there then.

Frankly I'd be willing to sacrifice some open space for education - do we really need 2 cricket pitches and not enough school places? but that's not what the council's proposing.

piji Mon 21-May-12 16:38:15

(On the issue that whether the redeveloped school will be big enough - I'm happy to trust the professional opinion of the headteacher, Ms Duffy, that it will be).

piji Mon 21-May-12 16:40:45

(And on bulge years - Pelham is taking a bulge year this September, and yet families like Bonita99's still have no school place - so that's clearly not solving the problem. There's a limit to how many children you can cram into a school before building work is needed).

DLD10 Mon 21-May-12 16:48:15

The document you suggest is an investigation of new sites IIRC, not of alternative schools to expand permanently or temporarily, which is what I'm suggesting as the short term response (sorry to repeat myself - if this wasn't clear from the original answer above, which was intended to respond to your point), whilst longer term plans are put in place. On the subject of new sites, despite the initial investigation released under FOI, the Council has now accepted it needs to build at least one new primary, and is responding to its own consultation to say so - so even Merton thinks there are potential sites.

The Council's planning application explicitly sets out that some of the Rec will be built on (and I'm not sure the current tennis courts are inaccessible to the public during school hours), but the slippery slope argument is actually about the protection of the open space, and the arguments one thinks trump it. Once it's been done once, much easier to do again, especially if we're talking about giving kids in a cramped school more space.

There's a minimum size for the floorspace per pupil; Dundonald will veer towards that minimum. If you think that's a reasonable risk, that's entirely reasonable.

DLD10 Mon 21-May-12 16:57:05

Apologies, I think I've found (at least part of) that list, and it was both new sites for schools and potential existing schools to expand - there were a number of shortlisted options.

piji Mon 21-May-12 17:15:25

So what, then - that hasn't been done already - would the "full investigation" which you advocate, consist of?

If you're saying more investigation into the temporary expansion of existing schools - bulge years - it's difficult to think of a school in the Dundonald area which hasn't already had either permanant or temporary expansion, except for the church schools. Merton Park I think. I'm not sure that single addition, on it's own, would be enough.

As far as open space is concerned, my understanding is that the new building will have about the same footprint as the old pavilion, which will be demolished once the new building is built. So no loss overall, except arguably the MUGA, where we get into issues of which hours it's available to which people - there's no reason why children shouldn't be allowed to use it during certain hours, that I can see. It's not adults-only. Maybe adults could get priority outside of school hours, to even things up.

As far as the "slippery slope" is concerned, there's two processes to consider: the Lands Tribunal and the planning process. In neither of those would approval of the current scheme set a precedent for future schemes (IIUC).

DLD10 Mon 21-May-12 18:11:15

IIUC, Merton Council doesn't feel additional bulge years are needed for 2012/13, so that is the first thing to be looked at again in the light of the school places offers. Around 5 additional forms of entry are needed in the next 3(?) years on current projections, and a number of sites were scored. It would be entirely possible to go back to those sites and re-consider (indeed, the decision on those sites was not at all that they were unsuitable, nor that Dundonald was necessarily the best). There is also the question why this process wasn't revealed to councillors at the time the decision was being taken.

Contrary to your view, both the Lands Tribunal decision and the planning process would set a precedent on building on public space (and the old pavillion is public, the new building would be a school building, with limited public access).

I suspect we will not convince each other our point of view is correct, but I have tried to answer your questions as best I can.

Horsetowater Mon 21-May-12 21:15:03

I think Siobahn Benita was planning to insist on a non-expansion rule for London schools, with the idea that more, smaller schools should be built rather than the size of schools increased.

But we won't get that now cos nobody voted for her!

piji Wed 23-May-12 12:40:10


No, you're wrong there. Town planning doesn't go by precedent. It's not a case of "we've allowed you to extend your kitchen, so we'll allow you to build a block of flats".

The Planning Inspectorate says:

"Parties will sometimes suggest that there are precedents (either a local planning authority’s decision or an appeal decision) elsewhere in the locality which either justify the local planning authority’s refusal of the application or lend support to the appellant’s case that approval should be granted. In reality the precedent argument is very rarely persuasive or conclusive as each case will differ in its circumstances from others and must be considered on its merits. We encourage the main parties to consider very carefully whether to include a reference to precedents in their cases."


Similarly, although the Upper Tribunal (Lands) is a 'court of record' and can set precedent in the interpretation of law, that's not at all the same thing as thinking that because one project has been allowed, another project on an adjoining site must be allowed. Each case is considered on its individual merits.

Re "new building will be a school.... limited public access": you're wrong on the facts there as well. Take a look at the drawings. Part of the new building is a pavilion, distinct from the school.

piji Wed 23-May-12 12:41:02
designerbaby Wed 23-May-12 15:46:43

That's what I thought piji, having just been through planning stuff for our house, but I was too lazy to find the link. grin

C'mon though you lot - get your responses in... time's a wastin'.


FamiliesShareGerms Thu 24-May-12 19:24:21

What's the deadline for supporting the expansion proposal? Have I missed the boat?

designerbaby Thu 24-May-12 23:13:09

Don't think you've missed the boat, Germy, but er, maybe do it tomorrow!?


piji Fri 25-May-12 11:29:13


I voted for Siobhan! I'd be very happy with the building of more schools - it's the idea that we should all sit around moaning, neither building more schools nor expanding existing ones, which I find annoying.


I think you're just in time, but we're getting down to the wire. I'm not sure of the exact deadline.

Primafacie Fri 25-May-12 12:01:54

I believe the deadline is 31 May.

piji Fri 15-Jun-12 11:34:56

Some hard data, released by Merton Council through FOIA:


"This is the list of school places for 4-year-olds in Merton who did not get one of their six school choices, for entry to Reception in September 2012.

The first column is distance (from home to school, in metres), the second column is the name of the school, the third column is the partial postcode.

1278.97 All Saints' CofE Primary School SW19 8
1473.96 All Saints' CofE Primary School SW19 8
1524.24 All Saints' CofE Primary School SW19 8
1668.18 All Saints' CofE Primary School SW19 7
1674.64 All Saints' CofE Primary School SW19 7
1696.48 All Saints' CofE Primary School SW19 7
1710.32 All Saints' CofE Primary School SW19 7
1727.09 All Saints' CofE Primary School SW19 8
1769.23 All Saints' CofE Primary School SW19 7
2537.27 All Saints' CofE Primary School SW19 4
254.01 Beecholme Primary School CR4 2
507.22 Beecholme Primary School CR4 2
705.9 Beecholme Primary School CR4 2
881.5 Beecholme Primary School CR4 2
913.76 Beecholme Primary School SW17 9
974.04 Beecholme Primary School SW17 9
1070.59 Beecholme Primary School CR4 3
1648.46 Beecholme Primary School CR4 3
2024.38 Beecholme Primary School SW19 2
2227.67 Beecholme Primary School CR4 3
2284.87 Beecholme Primary School SW19 1
2419.58 Beecholme Primary School CR4 4
2492.54 Beecholme Primary School CR4 4
3314.76 Beecholme Primary School SM4 6
1143.52 Benedict Primary School SM4 5
1489.61 Benedict Primary School SM4 6
1612.71 Benedict Primary School SM4 6
1861.7 Bond Primary School SW19 1
1751.19 Garden Primary School CR4 2
2395.74 Garden Primary School CR4 4
2703.96 Garden Primary School CR4 4
249.46 Garfield Primary School SW19 1
349.68 Garfield Primary School SW19 8
349.68 Garfield Primary School SW19 8
1289.97 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1373.92 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1376.58 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1433.55 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1444.62 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1455.52 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1490.63 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1490.63 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1514.74 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1524.66 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1579.37 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1590.5 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1595.08 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
1643.46 Garfield Primary School SW19 7
703.99 Hillcross Primary School SW20 9
705.09 Hillcross Primary School SM4 4
794.45 Hillcross Primary School SW20 9
803.35 Hillcross Primary School SW20 9
1131.46 Hillcross Primary School SW20 9
1151.49 Hillcross Primary School SW20 8
1320.08 Hillcross Primary School SW20 8
1325.86 Hillcross Primary School SW20 8
1369.7 Hillcross Primary School SW20 9
1376.48 Hillcross Primary School SW20 8
1380.37 Hillcross Primary School SW20 8
1398.58 Hillcross Primary School KT3 6
1459.93 Hillcross Primary School KT3 6
1548.6 Hillcross Primary School KT3 6
524.02 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
591.47 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
591.47 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
658.94 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
693.92 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
771.46 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
803.65 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
835.52 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
846.31 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
883.88 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
920.9 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
927.38 Joseph Hood Primary School SW19 4
950.06 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
976.29 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
1017.59 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
1033.83 Joseph Hood Primary School SW19 4
1125.66 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 0
1180.96 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
1212.31 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 0
1260.82 Joseph Hood Primary School SW19 4
1261.42 Joseph Hood Primary School SW19 4
1264.63 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
1285.36 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
1332.27 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
1332.27 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
1336.62 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
1340.94 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
1359.52 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 0
1433.91 Joseph Hood Primary School SW19 4
1452.07 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 8
1557.57 Joseph Hood Primary School SW20 0
123.42 Liberty School CR4 3
2032.86 Liberty School SW19 1
2072.51 Liberty School SW19 1
2160.19 Liberty School SW19 8
2248.1 Liberty School SW19 3
2280.95 Liberty School SW19 3
2286.64 Liberty School SW19 8
2288.42 Liberty School SM4 6
2383.35 Liberty School SW19 3
2433.11 Liberty School SW19 3
2463.79 Liberty School SW19 8
2556.67 Liberty School SW19 3
2565.4 Liberty School SW19 3
2566.81 Liberty School SW19 3
2687.67 Liberty School SW19 3
285.32 Lonesome Primary School CR4 2
1490.47 Lonesome Primary School SW17 9
1548.62 Lonesome Primary School CR4 3
1619.88 Lonesome Primary School CR4 3
1812.76 Lonesome Primary School CR4 3
1831.08 Lonesome Primary School CR4 3
1918.96 Lonesome Primary School CR4 3
1921.36 Lonesome Primary School CR4 3
2005.82 Lonesome Primary School SW19 2
2060.2 Lonesome Primary School CR4 3
2080.58 Lonesome Primary School SW19 2
2113.44 Lonesome Primary School SW19 2
2125.99 Lonesome Primary School SW19 2
2166.55 Lonesome Primary School SW19 2
2271.84 Lonesome Primary School SW19 2
2513.64 Lonesome Primary School SW19 1
1204.74 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 3
1446.49 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 4
1568.92 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 7
1573.78 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 4
1573.78 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 4
1579.72 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 7
1580.25 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 7
1615 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 4
1637.3 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 4
1697.41 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 4
1702.18 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 4
1754.34 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 4
1801.13 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 7
1889.96 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 4
1893.52 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 7
1911.8 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 4
203.74 Stanford Primary School SW16 4
292.5 Stanford Primary School SW16 4
1268.09 Stanford Primary School SW16 6
1341.34 Stanford Primary School SW16 6
1409.34 Stanford Primary School SW17 9
512.34 William Morris Primary School CR4 1
512.34 William Morris Primary School CR4 1
698.69 William Morris Primary School CR7 6
730.84 William Morris Primary School CR7 6
1372.55 William Morris Primary School CR4 1
1482.76 William Morris Primary School CR4 1
2421.25 William Morris Primary School CR4 3
2511.83 William Morris Primary School CR4 4
2591.55 William Morris Primary School CR4 4
2773.45 William Morris Primary School CR4 3

I'm not certain which postcode areas correspond to the Dundonald ward - 'SW19 3' certainly does, so here's those entries picked out:

1204.74 Merton Abbey Primary School SW19 3
2248.1 Liberty School SW19 3
2280.95 Liberty School SW19 3
2383.35 Liberty School SW19 3
2433.11 Liberty School SW19 3
2556.67 Liberty School SW19 3
2565.4 Liberty School SW19 3
2566.81 Liberty School SW19 3
2687.67 Liberty School SW19 3

so those are mostly Liberty school, with a max distance of 2.7km.

The highest distance in the borough is 3314:

3314.76 Beecholme Primary School SM4 6

And the lowest (bearing in mind that this is a list only of those children who did NOT get into one of their six preference schools) is:

123.42 Liberty School CR4 3

(so obviously this is a family which lives very near Liberty school, but did not place Liberty among their six choices). "

Lulama Mon 17-Sep-12 14:49:42


I found your list very interesting - Just wanted some clarification - is this the list for places that were available at the first set of offers for children who did not get any of their preferred school places

Best regards

piji Fri 08-Mar-13 15:41:22

"is this the list for places that were available at the first set of offers for children who did not get any of their preferred school places"


The list shows the school place which was offered to each child who did not get a place at any of their chosen schools.

As such, it shows the closest available school place to each child.

So for example, for children near Dundonald who did not get into Dundonald or any of their chosen schools (e.g. probably Wimbledon Chase), one got a place in Merton Abbey (in South Wimbledon, just over 1km away) and for the rest, their closest school place was in Liberty (about 2.5km away in Mitcham).

As far as I know, this is the only school place offered to each of these children, so referring to it as the "first set of offers" isn't quite right, because there are no further offers to follow - each of these is the only school place offered to each of these children. If I understand the system right. Otherwise, you've got it.

piji Fri 12-Jul-13 17:59:16


- The Lands Tribunal has given permission for the school expansion to go ahead.

- "Save Our Rec" have appealed the decision and lost.

- Their latest tactic is to disrupt the school's PE lessons by occupying the sports area and refusing to leave. This is in their new incarnation as "Dundonald Rec Tennis Club".

For more info see:
(Updated 11 July)

Primafacie Mon 29-Jul-13 22:56:07

Thanks Piji for the update. How grown up of them, disrupting innocent children's PE! Fucking pathetic.

piji Tue 18-Feb-14 17:48:42

A further update, now we're in 2014:

- "Dundonald Tennis Club" (in reality, the "Save Our Rec" people) continues its campaign to disrupt the school's PE lessons by occupying the sports area and refusing to leave, when it's time for PE. Dr Ernesto Pinto is the main person doing this. Sometimes it's just him standing there by himself, bouncing his tennis ball and denying the use of the sports area to a class of 30 school-children.

- Some discussion of the plans is taking place here:
including some good examples of scare-mongering (e.g. false claims that the school expansion plans allow the council to redevelop the whole of the Rec, false claims that the plans are illegal).

- "Save Our Rec" have filed 3 different judicial review applications against Merton Council. I haven't seen the papers, my understanding is that they're contesting:
1) The council's right to determine who uses the sports area at what times,
2) The council's right to erect signs in the Rec,
3) The school expansion.

Inneedofstrongblackcoffee Sat 22-Feb-14 10:14:42

Thanks piji. I am a late arrival to this debate. There is certainly a lot of background reading to catch up on.

paddybear Sat 26-Apr-14 12:11:56

To add some more facts (rather than the lies spread by SOR), post offers for reception places:
Dundonald Primary had 496 applicants for 30 places, or 16.5:1; the next highest ratios are at Merton Park (7.8:1) and Holy Trinity (6:1). So if you agree that good schools with high demand should be the ones to expand, and not underperforming ones (a policy which I think is eminently sensible), then the obvious schools to target for expansion are Dundonald and Merton Park, both currently 1FE only.
Hope the judicial review applications are thrown out sooner rather than later so that expansion works can start asap - this year again some children (I know personally of at least one case) got no offer at all (hopefully will get through waiting list).

Update for those of you who are interested, here.

It still seems that it will be some time (at least another academic year) before Dundonald Primary School is expanded.

Any thoughts?

usefulrabble Thu 07-Aug-14 13:37:49


"Council wins Judicial Review over expansion of Dundonald Primary School

5:16pm Friday 1st August 2014

By Louisa Clarence-Smith

A battle to expand a primary school into public playing fields received a boost yesterday as an appeal against plans was thrown out in court.

Campaigners objecting to Merton Council's decision to approve the expansion of Dundonald Primary School into Dundonald recreation ground appealed to the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Protect Dundonald Rec (PDR) argued the Cabinet's decision to give just over one per cent of Dundonald Rec to the primary school infringed on public rights to the space.

Dundonald Rec is a 48,000sq m public park in Wimbledon with sports facilities including two cricket and football pitches, a bowling green, tennis courts, playground and a pavilion.

The grounds were sold to the state by John Innes and Messrs James in 1893 on the condition they remain 'Public Pleasure Ground'.

Campaigners argue the decision to approve a planning application for a 579sq m expansion of the site, making room for an extra 30 school places, did not properly consider residents' use of the recreation area which they said were threatened by the plans.

But the Honourable Mr Justice King yesterday ruled the council's decision to approve the school expansion was rational, given the wider community interest in providing more school places.

Mr Justice King also recognised the fruitlessness of banning the building work now, given the amount of money already spent by the council on planning for the school's expansion.

Building work at the school cannot begin until a further hearing in September where a previously lodged appeal against the plans by campaigners will be heard.

However Councillor Peter Walker, the former cabinet member for education who spearheaded the application before being sacked for ripping down posters supporting PDR, is already celebrating.

Champagne on ice: Councillor Peter Walker outside Dundonald Primary School

He said: "This is brilliant news for the children of Wimbledon and local residents.

"It means the park will be enjoyed and there will be more places at this excellent school for local children."

Councillor Martin Whelton, cabinet member for education, said: "We welcome the decision of the High Court which shows we have acted both properly and fairly, as we work to fulfil our obligation to provide enough school places to educate children at an outstanding school, close to where they live.

"There is still a lot of work to be done and another hearing which is required in September means that we will need to take further legal advice and keep the situation under review as we consider the next steps to take."

PDR campaigners have yet to comment."

Perhaps the *** 'dundonald rec tennis club' will stop shouting insults at the school's teachers and pupils trying to do PE lessons now. Although I doubt it.

HaydonWomble Thu 07-Aug-14 14:06:13

Really? shock. That sounds almost like an ASBO-type offence?

I don't really understand what their problem is with the school expansion, although I'm guessing none of those against Dundonald's expansion have children who need schooling at their local primary?

2FatLadied Thu 07-Aug-14 14:17:15

They argue that there is no need for more school places and that, even if there were, these places should be provided elsewhere (undefined) as their enjoyment of the Rec is more important than children having a local school. They also think that it's better to have a dilapidated Pavilion and slightly more green space than a new Pavilion (as part of the new school buildings) and slightly less green space.

If you can bear to read the whole thread, you'll see it played out.

Or just sit in the park in term time and watch key members of Save Our Rec / Dundonald Tennis Club leap out of the bushes and prevent the kids using the tennis courts for PE. I even saw them preventing the kids using the tennis courts to learn cycling safety techniques.

Willemdefoeismine Thu 07-Aug-14 14:29:07

Surely that's intimidation (and of minors too!). Nimbyism at its worst!

Would have thought that increase in school places locally might drive house prices up even more, so what on earth drives this anti-families-with-children campaign???

Strikes me that they're arguing for the sake of it and as a point of principle...

usefulrabble Thu 07-Aug-14 15:31:20

Maries, R (On the Application Of) v London Borough of Merton [2014] EWHC 2689 (Admin) (31 July 2014)


"88. For all these reasons I reject each of the grounds of challenge pursued on behalf of the claimant and it follows this claim must be dismissed."

"90. I also have had regard to the evidence of the defendant's officer, Mr Proctor in his witness statement of April 2014 setting out the anticipated timetable for the first stages of the scheme designed to enable what are described as at least 30 urgently required additional school places to be provided in September 2014."

HaydonWomble Thu 07-Aug-14 18:54:50

After picking my way (less than confidently) thro' all that legalese hmm, why would anyone go to the lengths that the claimant has? What a waste of public funds. It would be interesting to know (under FOI) how much this has cost Merton Council thus far and it's not over yet...

usefulrabble Thu 07-Aug-14 19:59:15

Decision says that even if Lorraine Maries / Protect Dundonald Rec had been correct and Merton had made an error in law (which they didn't), the judge still wouldn't have prevented the school expansion, because the public interest in the school expansion going ahead is so strong.

89. "I should add however that had I been persuaded that there was any public law flaw in the approach adopted by the defendant in its determination under section 122, (for example in relation to the 147 square metres appropriated to provide the replacement pavilion), I would not in any event have been minded to grant any relief which is of course in the discretion of the court. The effect of any relief would undoubtedly bring to a halt a scheme for the expansion of the school which is well advanced and in respect of which as regards the other identified steps taken to facilitate the scheme, (such as the obtaining of planning permission, the removal of the restrictive covenant) considerable public resources have been spent. The court itself has to weigh the respective public interest benefits and disadvantages in deciding whether to grant relief. In this regard I was referred to the observations of (as he then was) Judge LJ in R v LB Brent ex parte Walters (1998) 30 HLR 328 at 381, in particular 'as the grant of judicial review may have substantial adverse consequences for a large number of blameless individuals beyond the applicant himself, in an appropriate case … the exercise of discretion permits account to be taken of the conflicting interests'."

'Relief' means the court deciding that an action must be taken (or not taken) - in this case, preventing the school expansion. Presumably the "adverse consequences for a large number of blameless individuals" would be the children without school places.

So even if Lorraine Maries had won this case, the court would not have 'awarded relief' (i.e. said that anything should be done differently) and she wouldn't have prevented the school expansion.

2FatLadied Thu 07-Aug-14 20:11:57

On why, it puzzles me, too. I think it's partly principle and just not liking change, but in my darker moments I do wonder if it might have something to do with the huge premium on house prices within 100m of the school. That will be diluted if the expansion goes ahead, as with 60 places surely the catchment area will expand a bit, and so the houses very close by might lose a bit of value.

HaydonWomble Fri 08-Aug-14 13:42:56

You may have a point, 2FatLadied!

However, the claimant seems like a 'tenacious terrier' so no doubt will appeal - more money wasted that could be more valuably spent on the children attending Dundonald.

When it's all resolved, I might ask how much it's cost to deal with this (under FOI).

2FatLadied Fri 08-Aug-14 14:26:41

HaydonWomble Oh, if you do, please update the thread. I'd love to know how many PE lessons / other school events they've disrupted, too...

CentreCourtWimbledon Wed 13-Aug-14 23:51:49

Thank goodness sense has prevailed at long last. I live close by and many of my neighbours - the ones who don't have young children, naturally - are against the expansion, but everyone else is in favour. Others, like me, who aren't affected by the school place shortage but who have sympathy for those who are, are pro expansion. Let's hope it all goes through quickly and smoothly and that the disgraceful intimidation stops.

wombleofsw19 Mon 08-Sep-14 23:07:16

Common sense has finally prevailed - great news for the whole community around Dundonald Rec.

It is such a shame that the Save the Rec (aka Dundonald Rec tennis group) have made this drag on for so long. So many local families have missed out on sending their children to Dundonald Primary during this time. So incredibly selfish.

It is so disturbing to hear about this group's behaviour, especially how they have prevented kids' PE lessons, shouted at teachers - as well as their wider intimidating behaviour (do a Google search and/or FOI request and you'll see it's gone on for years).

I hope the Council can recover legal costs against this group.

2FatLadied Wed 10-Sep-14 21:20:51

Has it? I thought the latest appeal was on Friday. And there's something on the Save Our Rec website about further appeals if that fails...

wombleofsw19 Wed 10-Sep-14 21:47:41

This article suggests that this Friday could be the end of the line:


However, given the form of this group it would be no surprise to see them continue to thwart local kids going to their local school. If it did continue to drag on for months and months then that would start to throw into doubt the September 2015 intake.

Willemdefoeismine Fri 12-Sep-14 21:05:45

It seems as if common sense has finally prevailed here. Let's hope this is the end of it for the sake of all local-to-Dundonald-School families.

paddybear Tue 16-Sep-14 11:33:52

Great news!
Although, of course, PDR says that it is launching an injunction (based on a thoroughly biased, incomplete and incorrect reading of Mr Justice King's verdict) and the right to appeal. I sincerely hope that this will not be a (further) deterrent for the council to start the works asap so that the new building is ready for the Sep'15 intake.

From a resume report in the WimbledonSW19 newsletter this week:

"...Merton Council cabinet member for education Councillor Martin Whelton said: “We are delighted with the judge’s decision to allow us to provide more school places at the outstanding Dundonald School. We were only able to offer places to pupils living within 106 metres of the school this year. We will now be able to make sure many more children will be able to have a great start to their education at one of our best schools.

“We hope for work to start shortly and will keep residents in the surrounding roads and parents up to date on what is happening with regards to the works. I welcome the expansion and look forward to seeing the opening of new school and community facilities in the months to come.”

But Lorraine Maries, Chairman of Protect Dundonald Rec, said: "Merton Council managed to use a legal technicality to over-ride the original covenant protecting the Rec. Now they have played the system in order to get away with environmental vandalism. How can anyone trust a council which is prepared to resort to deceit and misrepresentation to remove public rights?”

2FatLadied Fri 19-Sep-14 11:35:52

"legal technicality" = decisions of High Court judges

"environmental vandalism" = extra tennis court, bigger public playground, nice new pavilion and loss of a tiny bit of green space and an under-used bowling green (of which there is another, just down Mostyn Road)

"deceit and misrepresentation" = Save Our Rec still don't believe the Wimbldeon baby / pre-schooler boom exists and thinks that no more Reception places are needed. But you only need to look at the steep fall in furthest offer of a place at the school (down from 250m to 106m in the last few years) to know demand is rising.

Phew, glad its all over, and hopefully no four year old 110m from Dundonald will end up travelling half way across the borough to Liberty school next year.

HaydonWomble Tue 23-Sep-14 20:32:10


This isn't a final stand, is it??? If so, they're not taking it lying down are they???

Willemdefoeismine Sat 27-Sep-14 10:26:00

Well they've given up on the school angle but are still campaigning away. They've got a 'protest' meeting going on today???

2FatLadied Sat 27-Sep-14 13:06:04

Hmm, it's sorely tempting to take down all those illegal fly posters advertising the protest they've scattered around, but I think it's probably better to act like a grown-up and just to leave them to it.

CentreCourtWimbledon Sat 27-Sep-14 17:36:26

Yes, I walked past earlier. Plenty of littered posters on the floor hmm So much for their lovely rec space if they treat it like that.

abc123123123 Tue 30-Sep-14 11:33:50
abc123123123 Thu 02-Oct-14 11:13:04

More self-centred bullshit from Ernesto Pinto, who can't be bothered to walk to nearby John Innes Park to get his tennis fix, even if it means local children have to travel to Mitcham to get their education.


Can see this is a very emotive issue, particularly for those living in the area around Dundonald Park but please don't make comments personal. Thanks!

abc123123123 Thu 02-Oct-14 13:51:17

It's undeniable that he refuses to walk 5min down the road to play tennis (for a few months only), and would rather see children travelling 3km twice a day to get their education.

That's just a statement of fact, it's what he's complaining about.

His argument is that his ability to play tennis as close as possible to his house is more important than the right of local children to get a good education within a reasonable distance of their home. He's the one making that argument, not me.

Willemdefoeismine Thu 02-Oct-14 19:02:46

It makes you wonder if these NIMBYists ever had children????


CentreCourtWimbledon Thu 02-Oct-14 19:45:00

That article is crackers!

2FatLadied Thu 02-Oct-14 20:01:27

That article, and all the others scattered around the local press websites, show what good PR can do. The council and those who support the expansion won the legal battle but lost the PR battle. Most local people who haven't been deeply involved think that it's the mean council bulldozing the tennis courts, bowling green and probably half the rose garden and that it's an unfair victory of The System over the little man.

All of which is highly irritating. But, in the end, the school is expanding and that's the most important thing.

HaydonWomble Tue 14-Oct-14 13:54:01

One way or another, this one is just set to run and run....hmm!


wombleofsw19 Wed 29-Oct-14 13:40:38

And so it goes on. The 'save the rec' group met with Eric Pickles this week to overturn the HIGH COURT decision to proceed with the Dundonald Rec plans. This is also despite the fact that construction is already progressing at pace.

What is so troubling amongst many things here is that the local MP Stephen Hammond continues to support this group. It was he who arranged the meeting and it's been he who has contributed to this saga being delayed for so many years, resulting in so many kids missing out on going to their local school (as well as of course the continued uncertainty over the rec).

This group has so much time on their hands and will never give up. So don't be surprised if somehow they delay construction again, throwing into doubt 2015 school places. This will have a knock on effect to Wimbledon Chase etc.


2FatLadied Wed 29-Oct-14 17:47:42

Not only Stephen Hammond MP but also the local lib Dem candidate are anti-expansion (if you ask the right questions - ime both aren't open about it if they're not sure where you stand). Doesn't leave much choice when it comes to the election...

I sincerely hope they don't stop it now - according to the council there are predicted to be 70 children for whom there isn't a 2015 autumn Reception place, and that's assuming that Dundonald takes 60.

CentreCourtWimbledon Wed 29-Oct-14 19:08:40


The title of this thread says it all really. These campaigners don't want local kids going to their local school because of a perception that they will dilute the good results and bring the house prices down. Nothing to do with losing a non-used bowling green. The building project is well underway and I hope it continues apace

2FatLadied Tue 11-Nov-14 20:23:46

This article shows the local Lib Dem candidate suggesting that the expansion is all due to Labour infighting.

I think that the only local political party that has shown consistent good sense and a grasp of the realities of the situation has been Labour, in the form of Peter Walker. And I find it deeply disappointing that a) the Lib Dems are still going with the go back in time and find an alternative site / don't sell off school playing fields 'solution' and b) that their candidate is using the issue to try and grab local votes. I would have hoped they would think that local school places for 3/4 year olds were more important than getting NIMBY votes...


rartartar123 Sat 15-Nov-14 19:40:03

out of interest what were the other 6 primary schools to get outstanding from ofsted?

2FatLadied Sat 15-Nov-14 20:59:08

Found them on this link:
Can't flick between pages on my phone so from memory it's West Wimbledon, Singlegate, Wimbledon Chase, Bishop Gilpin, St Mary's, Hillcross.

You may also be interested in the Sunday Times Parent Power Top 200 State Primary Schools (in Britain) list, published today. Three Merton schools feature (congratulations to them!):

Bishop Gilpin CofE Primary School (12th);
Dundonald Primary School (123rd);
Hollymount Primary School (66th).

Willemdefoeismine Mon 29-Dec-14 12:26:29


It sounds as if this is now a fait accompli, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

CentreCourtWimbledon Tue 30-Dec-14 22:50:57

Isn't the campaign to get Eric Pickles involved still going?
There must be a point of no return, maybe it's even been reached already. The playground is being shut from next week while it is moved, and that's got to be pretty irrevocable

2FatLadied Fri 09-Jan-15 11:48:21

They are moving the playground right now, though it's going to take 5-6 weeks rather than a few days, as originally promised, which is irritating.

The anti-expansion campaign seems to have morphed into a 'protect our green spaces from development' campaign. It seems like a fairly harmless outlet for the strong feelings.

The thing that isn't harmless is that I'm told one of the local politicians has been knocking on doors and showing people a list of houses which he says are 'dodgy' in terms of school applications. I'm sure he shouldn't share this information, even if he is allowed access to it in his official capacity. Not least because his definition of 'dodgy' appears to cover anyone who rents and anyone who hasn't lived there for years. In an area of a pretty mobile population, this is quite a lot of addresses!

CentreCourtWimbledon Fri 09-Jan-15 18:50:32

What is his motive for doing that? Is it to get people to support the expansion?

2FatLadied Fri 09-Jan-15 19:50:46

From what the people who've been doorstepped tell me, it's to 'prove' that there are enough places for local children, as long as you exclude all those undeserving four year olds who've recently moved to the area or who live in rented accommodation.

I assume that his argument was that there is no need to expand Dundonald, just crack down on these applications and the problem will go away. Presumably by those 'undeserving' four year olds commuting to Mitcham or moving or going private.

CentreCourtWimbledon Sun 11-Jan-15 14:27:28

What?? That is crazy. And it's not how admissions work so it's pointless.

The new playground is coming along fast, which is good to see.

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