Avenue Primary School forced to be super-sized by Sutton Council

Parents have expressed serious concerns about the expansion

Parents have expressed serious concerns about the expansion

First published in Education News
Last updated
Sutton Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter covering Wandsworth

A popular primary school will become one of the largest in the country after Sutton Council forces it to expand to combat a school place crisis.

Avenue Primary School, in Sutton, is set to become a super-sized primary school with 932 pupils even though the school’s governors unanimously agreed they were against its further expansion.

Sutton Guardian:

Some parents have started a petition against the council's decision to make the school take five reception classes this September.

Parents have expressed serious concerns about the expansion including playground safety, logistical problems and the ability of the school’s facilities to cope.

The eleventh hour expansion is part of a growing crisis surrounding primary school places in Sutton.

Demand is expected to increase from 14,000 primary spaces in September 2011 to 17,000 in September 2016 and many schools are having to expand to fill the gap.

Since September 2011, Avenue Primary's governors have already agreed to three "bulge" classes - one-off extra classes that start in reception and progress through the school but are not permament.

The school also accepted its permanent expansion to four forms of entry starting in September 2013.

However, parents were informed on Thursday last week that the council had told the school it would have to take on a further "bulge" reception class this September.

Many parents believe it is an expansion too far, while in a letter to parents, Jeremy Randall, the chair of governors expressed surprise at being asked to accept another "bulge" class.

He said: "We were concerned about the logistics whilst the building programme to accommodate the permanent expansion progresses, and also the traffic and parking implications in the neighbouring area. We advised the local authority of our decision.

"However, because it has the responsibility to find a place for all eligible pupils, the local authority is able to direct community schools to take additional classes. It has decided to use this power, directing us to take a 5th reception class, and we were notified of this on 17th June."

Sutton Guardian:

Jonathan Pritchard, Cheam councillor and a governor at the school, said: "It is unfortunate when a school gets directed to take an additional class by the authority but it is sadly the position the authority is in.

"Some of the concern has been about the impact on transport but I think the extra coming in are in one mile of the school. I’m fairly certain it will work out all right."

From September 2016 the school will have 932 pupils in the school - remaining at that number until 2020 when the 2013 intake leave and they revert to a capacity of 902.

Schools with more than 800 pupils, known as titan schools, are on the increase with the biggest one being Gascoigne Primary School in Barking with 1,200 students and five forms per year group.

The growth of super-size primary schools is down to the baby boom between 2001 and 2011 which was the biggest 10 year increase in birth since the 50s.

Sutton Guardian:

Dave Callaghan, chair of Sutton Council’s children, family and education committee, said: "We understand the parents' concerns and we take them very seriously. They should be reassured that all the children who will attend the bulge class live within one mile of the school.

"Avenue is an excellent school that consistently provides the very highest quality education for Sutton’s children, and we will ensure this remains the case. The school will still be a local school for local families."

The council would not directly answer questions when asked about how they were planning to cope with access, facilities or lunch breaks. They also declined to answer whether they had any plans to build more primary schools in the borough.

Sutton Guardian:

What the parents say

Chris Langridge, 39, an IT systems engineer from Belmont, has three-year-old twins about to start at the school, he said: "It seems as if it is being forced on [the school] and they have gone ‘OK well we have to go with it’.

"We are really pleased our kids are going there. This is nothing against the school the teachers are fantastic - it is the decision makers at the council that have said you have got to deal with it."

Kate Madel, 41, an interior designer from Belmont, has one child in year one and another due to start this September.

Although she has accepted the place for her youngest she is now considering moving both children to smaller schools.

She said: "When I heard there was a fifth form I felt a bit cheated. It’s a great school and the teachers do a fantastic job. But the school is not designed for that many people."

Naomi Hafeez, 40, has sent all four of her children to Avenue but applied late for her fifth child and only found out on Monday that she had a school place - in Avenue's fifth bulge class.

She said: "I must say I was opposed to it last time - but people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

"Now I’m one of the parents of a child that had no place at school for September so I have seen both sides."

Dominique Young, 35, a mum-of-two and teacher from Belmont, was concerned that parents had not been given enough information and said: "For a four-year-old being one of 150 is very daunting. There are going to be a lot of little fish in an exceptionally big pond."

Fiona Franklin, a full-time mum, has one child in year one and one who will start next year she said: "I feel it is really dangerous and I’ve emailed the council. There are too many children in the playground. I think it is a recipe for disaster."

What do you think about the expansion? Leave your coments in the box below.

 

Comments (15)

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12:51pm Thu 27 Jun 13

Jackarmy says...

It is all well and good the N.I.M.B.Y. brigade parents starting a petition.

However N.I.M.B.Y.s; just put yourself in our position. We have lived in the UK all our lives; always worked and paid our taxes. My wife is locally born and bred; within spitting distance of The Avenue in fact. Our daugther was originally turned down for a place but we have recently been told we have a "bulge" place for her and it has made us the happiest people in the world!

So maybe you would like to put yourselves in someone elses position for a change. How would you feel if you were in our shoes and unable to get a place. Fuming probably; just like we were when our daughter was turned down.

You know the facts. There has been an explosion in child population. What are our children supposed to do. Become uneducated savages?
It is all well and good the N.I.M.B.Y. brigade parents starting a petition. However N.I.M.B.Y.s; just put yourself in our position. We have lived in the UK all our lives; always worked and paid our taxes. My wife is locally born and bred; within spitting distance of The Avenue in fact. Our daugther was originally turned down for a place but we have recently been told we have a "bulge" place for her and it has made us the happiest people in the world! So maybe you would like to put yourselves in someone elses position for a change. How would you feel if you were in our shoes and unable to get a place. Fuming probably; just like we were when our daughter was turned down. You know the facts. There has been an explosion in child population. What are our children supposed to do. Become uneducated savages? Jackarmy
  • Score: 0

1:35pm Thu 27 Jun 13

tangled26 says...

As a parent of a child who is starting Reception at Avenue in September, I had my concerns when I first heard about the bulge class.

The parents who are concerned and started a petition did not have anything against the school OR the children/parents of the bulge class, but the Council. Biggest question being why a school that is one of only 2 in Sutton that has 120 children in reception, was being asked to take on the extra class, when there are other schools locally with only 2 and 3 forms entry?

That said, I have personally spoken to the management at the school and they are very positive and very confident that the school will still maintain their incredibly high standards. They have made the jump from 3 to 4 forms brilliantly and I don't think that this extra intake will be a problem for them.

I do think the council need to start getting their ducks in a row though! They know that year after year this problem is occurring and adding bulge classes cannot always be the answer. What will our children be doing for secondary school places?

There is no point making this a political/immigrant issue, nor is there any point in arguing about whether or not you are entitled to a place based on your location or history within the borough. EVERY child in Sutton deserves a school place, and the council should be planning for more schools, not extra pull on existing schools!
As a parent of a child who is starting Reception at Avenue in September, I had my concerns when I first heard about the bulge class. The parents who are concerned and started a petition did not have anything against the school OR the children/parents of the bulge class, but the Council. Biggest question being why a school that is one of only 2 in Sutton that has 120 children in reception, was being asked to take on the extra class, when there are other schools locally with only 2 and 3 forms entry? That said, I have personally spoken to the management at the school and they are very positive and very confident that the school will still maintain their incredibly high standards. They have made the jump from 3 to 4 forms brilliantly and I don't think that this extra intake will be a problem for them. I do think the council need to start getting their ducks in a row though! They know that year after year this problem is occurring and adding bulge classes cannot always be the answer. What will our children be doing for secondary school places? There is no point making this a political/immigrant issue, nor is there any point in arguing about whether or not you are entitled to a place based on your location or history within the borough. EVERY child in Sutton deserves a school place, and the council should be planning for more schools, not extra pull on existing schools! tangled26
  • Score: 0

1:57pm Thu 27 Jun 13

Jackarmy says...

Dear tangled26

I completely agree with you and thank you for putting the object of the petition into some context as this is not entirely clear from the article.

The problems are, of course, at a governmental level, whether it be local or national and poor planning for our children's futures. All that any of us want, at the end of the day, is a fair start in life for our children.

Best wishes.
Dear tangled26 I completely agree with you and thank you for putting the object of the petition into some context as this is not entirely clear from the article. The problems are, of course, at a governmental level, whether it be local or national and poor planning for our children's futures. All that any of us want, at the end of the day, is a fair start in life for our children. Best wishes. Jackarmy
  • Score: 0

3:42pm Thu 27 Jun 13

Michael Pantlin says...

I think the problem is called overpopulation fuelled by overbreeding and overimmigration.
I think the problem is called overpopulation fuelled by overbreeding and overimmigration. Michael Pantlin
  • Score: 0

4:31pm Thu 27 Jun 13

LiberalsOut says...

The answers to most of our problems are so simple to solve, but unfortunately politicians local and national are involved in the decison making process
All I would say is if you have over 2.5 million people out of work, and the country on its knees, why would you allow more people in adding to our problems?
The answers to most of our problems are so simple to solve, but unfortunately politicians local and national are involved in the decison making process All I would say is if you have over 2.5 million people out of work, and the country on its knees, why would you allow more people in adding to our problems? LiberalsOut
  • Score: 0

5:44pm Thu 27 Jun 13

Sutton53 says...

We need a Prime-Minister who will say 'enough is enough'......he is too weak to deal with the immigration problem and is terrified to have a referendum.
We need a Prime-Minister who will say 'enough is enough'......he is too weak to deal with the immigration problem and is terrified to have a referendum. Sutton53
  • Score: 0

8:32pm Thu 27 Jun 13

GreenBrown says...

The Telegraph -

One in four British babies born to foreign mothers

Immigrants have fueled a mini-baby boom in Britain over the last decade, with one in four children now born to a record 200,000 foreign mothers a year.

"There is no point making this a political/immigrant issue, nor is there any point in arguing about whether or not you are entitled to a place based on your location or history within the borough."

No. No point at all. Best roll over and let our children suffer so we can educate the worlds children.
The Telegraph - One in four British babies born to foreign mothers Immigrants have fueled a mini-baby boom in Britain over the last decade, with one in four children now born to a record 200,000 foreign mothers a year. "There is no point making this a political/immigrant issue, nor is there any point in arguing about whether or not you are entitled to a place based on your location or history within the borough." No. No point at all. Best roll over and let our children suffer so we can educate the worlds children. GreenBrown
  • Score: 0

9:13pm Thu 27 Jun 13

jonjo79 says...

The comments are claiming all sorts of problems like the baby boom, immigration etc. The real problem in Sutton is the story which is now the top story on the website - the continuous development of flats.

The same council people approving these developments are not also making school places for the children that will fill them.

Build schools on these plots, not flats. Oh, but that wouldn't generate income for the council would it?

I get that The Avenue is supersized compared to other schools but do the other schools have the same classroom space and land readily available? I expect this is the cheapest option or only option in or near the town centre where the places are needed more than anywhere else in the borough.

I agree with the comment that every Sutton child deserves (and is entitled to) a school place and The Avenue is one of our best schools so it makes sense.

There will always be increased congestion but it is better to provide local places than make the roads worse by making people travel much further distances to school.
The comments are claiming all sorts of problems like the baby boom, immigration etc. The real problem in Sutton is the story which is now the top story on the website - the continuous development of flats. The same council people approving these developments are not also making school places for the children that will fill them. Build schools on these plots, not flats. Oh, but that wouldn't generate income for the council would it? I get that The Avenue is supersized compared to other schools but do the other schools have the same classroom space and land readily available? I expect this is the cheapest option or only option in or near the town centre where the places are needed more than anywhere else in the borough. I agree with the comment that every Sutton child deserves (and is entitled to) a school place and The Avenue is one of our best schools so it makes sense. There will always be increased congestion but it is better to provide local places than make the roads worse by making people travel much further distances to school. jonjo79
  • Score: 0

10:33pm Thu 27 Jun 13

Monstermunch17 says...

Sounds like a sensible decision to me.

Very sad to see all those parents with their kids in the school, leaping into action to deny others the same access they had. It's known as pulling the ladder up behind you, and is a horrible trait of the small-minded.

Congratulations to the parents who have got their kids into the new class, I for one am delighted for you. My kids are in a good local school, and it is a nice feeling to know they are in a great environment.
Sounds like a sensible decision to me. Very sad to see all those parents with their kids in the school, leaping into action to deny others the same access they had. It's known as pulling the ladder up behind you, and is a horrible trait of the small-minded. Congratulations to the parents who have got their kids into the new class, I for one am delighted for you. My kids are in a good local school, and it is a nice feeling to know they are in a great environment. Monstermunch17
  • Score: 0

1:19am Fri 28 Jun 13

jackson80 says...

Naomi Hafeez has 5 children.... there is your problem right there!
Naomi Hafeez has 5 children.... there is your problem right there! jackson80
  • Score: 0

2:59am Fri 28 Jun 13

gbzgc says...

I totally agree with Jonjo79, the issue here is the population expansion within the borough because of the continuous approval of new blocks of flats wherever you turn. The council cannot shirk their responsibility here and blame others as they always do.
I totally agree with Jonjo79, the issue here is the population expansion within the borough because of the continuous approval of new blocks of flats wherever you turn. The council cannot shirk their responsibility here and blame others as they always do. gbzgc
  • Score: 0

9:02am Fri 28 Jun 13

GreenBrown says...

"I totally agree with Jonjo79, the issue here is the population expansion within the borough because of the continuous approval of new blocks of flats wherever you turn. The council cannot shirk their responsibility here and blame others as they always do."

As a consequence of mass immigration over the last 15 years this country now has around 3 - 4 million more people in it. They may not have all come to Sutton, but that doesn't mean it doesn't effect Sutton or any other area. If these people weren't here there would be plenty of housing with some to spare and no need to keep building flats. It really is as simple as that. I can see that people struggle with this because it goes against their liberal, brainwashed minds, but facts are facts. If you don't have enough housing in a country and then you allow millions more people into the country, that will lead to a housing shortage, simple mathematics. Some argue that we should just build more houses/flats as statistically the percentage of Britain's land mass isn't built on blah, blah, blah. I happen to want to keep Britain green and pleasant and don't want the government ripping up anymore fields just to house the rest of the worlds people who happen to want to live here, as if it's there right or something, I mean when did that thinking come in. Finally, building more housing /flats is not the solution. They built some new towns like Milton Keynes and Stevenage and guess what, they're full up now and having to expand. Free up housing, don't build it. It's time to start righting the soooooo many wrongs in this country.
"I totally agree with Jonjo79, the issue here is the population expansion within the borough because of the continuous approval of new blocks of flats wherever you turn. The council cannot shirk their responsibility here and blame others as they always do." As a consequence of mass immigration over the last 15 years this country now has around 3 - 4 million more people in it. They may not have all come to Sutton, but that doesn't mean it doesn't effect Sutton or any other area. If these people weren't here there would be plenty of housing with some to spare and no need to keep building flats. It really is as simple as that. I can see that people struggle with this because it goes against their liberal, brainwashed minds, but facts are facts. If you don't have enough housing in a country and then you allow millions more people into the country, that will lead to a housing shortage, simple mathematics. Some argue that we should just build more houses/flats as statistically the percentage of Britain's land mass isn't built on blah, blah, blah. I happen to want to keep Britain green and pleasant and don't want the government ripping up anymore fields just to house the rest of the worlds people who happen to want to live here, as if it's there right or something, I mean when did that thinking come in. Finally, building more housing /flats is not the solution. They built some new towns like Milton Keynes and Stevenage and guess what, they're full up now and having to expand. Free up housing, don't build it. It's time to start righting the soooooo many wrongs in this country. GreenBrown
  • Score: 0

12:12pm Fri 28 Jun 13

Krissi says...

Jackson80, Just because someone has a foreign name does not mean they are foreign I have a Latvian surname but that is not even because my husband is Latvian, his father was, others may be generations down the line- also when my son was at school the problems were no different, and even then there were parents there with three or four young children who in time would need school places, as well as whichever children were attending his school. Every year at intake time this comes up, and has for the last fifteen years so it's not as if the council doesn't know there is a problem, maybe they ought to quit letting out of borough students into our secondary schools too as there aren't enough spaces in them either- they should either build new schools or sort it out permanently instead of these temporary measures which at best are a sticking plaster for a gaping gap in the provision of school places
Jackson80, Just because someone has a foreign name does not mean they are foreign I have a Latvian surname but that is not even because my husband is Latvian, his father was, others may be generations down the line- also when my son was at school the problems were no different, and even then there were parents there with three or four young children who in time would need school places, as well as whichever children were attending his school. Every year at intake time this comes up, and has for the last fifteen years so it's not as if the council doesn't know there is a problem, maybe they ought to quit letting out of borough students into our secondary schools too as there aren't enough spaces in them either- they should either build new schools or sort it out permanently instead of these temporary measures which at best are a sticking plaster for a gaping gap in the provision of school places Krissi
  • Score: 0

12:51pm Fri 28 Jun 13

jackson80 says...

The point I am making is she has 5 children. The issue is not about Britishness or being foreign, it is cultural.
The point I am making is she has 5 children. The issue is not about Britishness or being foreign, it is cultural. jackson80
  • Score: 0

11:40am Mon 1 Jul 13

emelem says...

perhaps people *choosing* to reproduce should also look into home schooling.

and if you say you can't afford to stay home to educate *your own* child, you shouldn't be having the child in the first place.
perhaps people *choosing* to reproduce should also look into home schooling. and if you say you can't afford to stay home to educate *your own* child, you shouldn't be having the child in the first place. emelem
  • Score: 0

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