Harefield schools review
The period for public consultation on the proposal for schools in Harefield, Bitterne Park and Townhill area has completed and the proposal will now go to the school organisation committee in May. David Goodall, the Parliamentary candidate for Southampton Itchen, says "At present the main concern I have is over the proposed changes to the schools in Harefield"
The current proposal is that :-
- Glenfield Infants, Townhill Infants and Townhill Juniors remain unchanged.
- Moorlands Infants changes from a two form entry infant school to a one form entry primary school.
- Beechwood Juniors changes from a three form entry school to a two form entry school.
- Harefield infants and juniors should be changed from two form entry schools to a merged one form entry primary school based on the Junior school site.
Commenting on these proposals David Goodall said :-
- "The plans for Moorlands should settle the uncertainty that parents and prospective parents have had of a school without a natural follow on junior school."
- "The changes at Beechwood Juniors are also for best in the long term as both Glenfield Infant and its follow on junior school, Beechwood, will be two form entry schools and both sites are remaining as school sites."
- "Townhill Juniors stays with a capacity of nearly 3½ form entry which it needs to maintain its unique teaching format that has produced such excellent results, so providing pupil numbers are maintained this is also good."
- "The changes at Harefield are the largest proposed and raise two main issues. I believe that the current proposal to use the Junior school building is not the right one because of the building's design and I also have grave concern that proposed reduction in form entry may mean that some children from the Harefield estate may not be able to have a place in the future at the Harefield school"
The proposed changes at Harefield would mean the maximum number of children that could start at the school would be 30, although current projections show future school numbers consistently above 30. The current junior school has the utility supplies for both the junior and infant schools running to it, so from that point of view it makes sense that junior school building is used, however with most of the classrooms not on the ground floor it makes the provision of school facilities for children will disabilities very difficult.
So apart from Harefield, the proposed changes for other the schools should go ahead as planned so that the parents at those schools know what the future holds. The Harefield school buildings plans need changing and the entry numbers need very close examination to show the numbers of children above the proposed entry come from outside the Harefield estate area. If this not the case then entry numbers should be increased so that all children from the Harefield estate can attend the Harefield school if their parents so wish.
Having small class sizes of the type that best suits each local area would of course be no problem under a Liberal Democrat government because that is our policy. The problem Harefield has is that the Labour government bases its financing of the school system on 30 children per class and not 20 per class in Infant schools and 25 per class in Junior schools as a Liberal Democrat government would do. So financing a school with between 30 and 60 pupils per year group is not possible unless you have mixed year teaching and although this is possible it is not ideal.