Author: Ian Hamilton
The meeting was chaired by Cllr Kathy Tracey and started with a presentation from Assistant Director of Education Sarah Harty and then Q&A from the floor.
Around 100people, chiefly from three groups – who were mostly opposed to the proposals: Belleville Governors, Northside residents and residents from south of Broomwood Rd.
Other than Parent Governors I believe a fair observation is on the low turnout of “regular” Belleville parents (though the 2017 exception means these plans will not actually affect them).
Some facts came to light from questions on the council map of 2010 reception places allocated at Belleville.
We have asked for the date of this map to be clarified and if it may be posted on the council website.
- 5 non-siblings inside the second GPA got reception places in 2010 at Belleville
- In their proposal letter the council said 25 siblings were made offers who would not have got in on distance alone, at the meeting a related point was made that 19 siblings who live outside both GPAs gained reception places in 2010 at Belleville. Not quite all siblings are marked on the map (as some are from even further than the scale of the map). Counting pink stars it seems maybe only 1 sibling place is not on the map.
- In addition there were 6 siblings in the second GPA
Belleville Governors said they are supportive of siblings attending the same school and were very concerned about the impact on filling in-year vacancies (they fear families won’t take an in-year place if future siblings not allowed).
They argued that Belleville tries harder than most schools to fill these vacancies (but like all schools has some e.g. in year6 the Head informed the meeting). They feel this is important way to increase the school’s diversity.
The Governors are concerned Belleville is being singled-out for sibling rule changes. Here is their newsletter.
South of Broomwood Rd residents who would now fall outside the southern boundary of the proposed first GPA argued that some places do currently go to south of this line.
Sarah Harty stated that actually no 2010 non-sibling reception places were actually offered south of Broomwood Rd but the map presented has one marked and two on Broomwood Rd itself (hence the need for clarifications above).
Under the new proposals these residents will now definitely have much less chance of getting into Belleville and they expressed doubts that the Alderbrook expansion will reach up high enough to include them.
It was clarified that Honeywell, a Foundation school is in charge of its own admission policy. It plans to consult next spring (at least two people suggested any admission changes needed to be coordinated amongst schools in the area).
Several Northside residents spoke against the current idea, stating that the new proposals do not address any of the concerns of residents near to the Forthbridge Rd site. A flyer was distributed at the start of the meeting by some (download HERE).
It was asked why the distance calculation in the second GPA was still from the Belleville main site and why the idea of a percentage local entry (as suggested by Cllr Kathy Tracy herself at the July Education Committee meeting!) was not part of the proposals. Both questions drew no response from the council.
The example of Henry Cavendish School, 2miles away in Lambeth was introduced – it recently expanded to two sites and calculates distance from either site. The Council seemed unaware of this school and declined to comment further.
Concerns about increased traffic were mentioned by one Marmion Rd resident.
The council stated there were only 9 applications to Wandsworth schools this year from the streets immediately surrounding the Forthbridge Rd site.
The council perception of future demand was attacked and someone asked about the contradiction of even designing a second GPA for an area with no alleged demand.
A questioner asked about Beatrix Potter School, the only other Wandsworth School with two ranked GPAs, pointing out that several recent years had seen no non-siblings from the second GPA gain a place there.
Bruce Glocking from the council actually agreed that the chances of any child living near Forthbridge Rd site gaining access to it were realistically very small!
Two residents spoke in support of Wix School on the Northside.
Read our article on Belleville and Alderbrook: primary school consultation