Merton: dumbing-down Dundonald Primary School?(204 Posts)
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
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.
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.
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?
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...)
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.
How does that work then? I don't understand.
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.
What ? Are you serious? Are these threats made in person?
Yes, I'm serious.
Yes, threats made in person.
Police have been involved.
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.
I wouldn't know, in our house Time and Leisure goes in the recycling bin unread.
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".
Womble, that's so vicious! 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 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.
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....
Funny how the OP never came back to explain the issue about diversity
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 for being in favour.
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" . I should expect dog poo on my doorstep shouldn't I
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....?
Bah, Gazzalw, I think we should let this thread continue! The OP is getting a well-deserved telling off anyway.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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