MP Andrew Rosindell backs free schools to solve primary crisis in Havering
PUBLISHED: 10:00 23 October 2015
Romford’s MP asked the Prime Minister to help plug a school places ‘crisis’ on Wednesday as parents expressed concerns about expansions. Earlier in the week the sponsor of Romford’s first free school withdrew its support
Parents have raised concerns about plans to build a two-storey classroom block on a playground.
The proposal could see Gidea Park Primary, Lodge Avenue, Gidea Park, expand by one class in each year group from September 2016.
Eighty parents met with Romford MP Andrew Rosindell on Sunday to discuss their fears.
Kelly Sullivan, whose son is in Year 1, said: “It’s quite a small school and the increase proposed is very large.
“It is well run and it’s a nice community school. That is why I chose it. It will take away loads of the children’s play area and parking is bad enough already around the school and could be made much worse.”
In an email to parents seen by the Recorder, governors also expressed reservations about the proposal, which does not include expanding the kitchen and would destroy two established trees.
The email said: “We feel very strongly that insufficient consideration was given to the impact of the huge number of housing developments which have since taken place [on school places], particularly in Romford.”
The proposal will be voted on at a meeting of Havering Council’s cabinet on November 4.
Cllr Meg Davis, cabinet member for children and learning, said the expansion programme would go through “a significant number of steps” and where plans were made for schools “everyone involved would have a full opportunity to debate the issue and make their views known”.
Romford’s MP has called for more free school sites to be made available to help ease the school place “crisis”.
It is expected 3,000 extra primary school places will be needed in Havering by 2019, due to a 33 per cent spike in births.
Andrew Rosindell told the Recorder he believed building new free schools is a better solution than “pushing schools to their limit” by expanding them.
He said he has spoken to a Department of Education official about considering more sites.
On Wednesday, Mr Rosindell spoke at Prime Minister’s Questions to call for adequate resources to ensure any school expansions are manageable.
His question followed a meeting with parents concerned that a proposal to expand Gidea Park Primary School, Lodge Avenue, Gidea Park, would put pressure on facilities.
Mr Rosindell said he is not against all school expansions but that full assessments are needed before approval.
He added: “I am not convinced by any means that Gidea Park is the best school to expand.”
Mr Rosindell also asked the Prime Minister if he was “prepared to meet a delegation of parents and members of the local council to discuss how to resolve the serious issue”.
Cllr Meg Davis, Havering Council’s cabinet member for children and learning said :”We have a legal duty to provide school places for these children and it is important and sensible to start planning for this right away.”
She added that a recent consultation showed “substantial parental support for expanding schools” and all plans for schools in line for expansion had the support of headteachers and governors.