Agenda item

Formal Consultation on School Organisation Arrangements of Roe Green Infant School

This report provides Cabinet with a summary of the formal consultation undertaken between 26 June 2019 and 24 July 2019 on a change in the age range of Roe Green Infant School and the closure of primary provision on the Roe Green Strathcona site from September 2020.

Decision:

RESOLVED: that Cabinet determined the proposal published in a statutory notice on 26 June 2019 to:

 

     i)        change the age range of Roe Green Infant School from 3-11 to 3-7;

 

    ii)        reduce the school’s Published Admission Number (PAN) from 150 to 120 for September 2020;

 

   iii)        implement a phased closure of the provision on the Roe Green Infant School Strathcona site so that no new admissions are made into any Reception cohort from September 2020 and the site is fully closed at the end of July 2022.

Minutes:

Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of the Council, informed the meeting that a number of requests to speak from members of the public and Councillors on this item had been received. He informed the meeting that he intended to allow those speakers to speak first after which he would ask Councillor Amer Agha, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills & Employment, to introduce the report and respond to the points raised.

 

Councillor Butt welcomed Mary Adossides, Chair, Brent Trades Council, to the meeting. Ms Adossides urged the Cabinet to reconsider the proposed closure of the Strathcona unit and the potential subsequent loss of jobs and educational provision. She highlighted the need for SEN provision and pleaded with the Cabinet to reaffirm its commitment to state education.

 

Councillor Butt welcomed Gloria Amadi, Chair of the Roe Green Infant / Strathcona School Governing Body to the meeting. Ms Amadi stated that she felt no counter arguments put forward during the consultation process had been seriously considered by Brent Council. She stated that the proposals, if approved, would impact negatively on the most disadvantaged in society and the life chances of children. She stated that the pupils and parents at Roe Green Infant / Strathcona wanted the school to remain open. She blamed the current situation on the Council’s poor school admission planning process.

 

Mrs Nicole Lobo, Executive Head Teacher, drew Cabinet Members’ attention to the report appendices stating that 542 responses to the consultation had been received. She stated that 99.8% of those responses disagreed with the closure.

 

Ms Marina Aziz, Assistant Head Teacher, read excerpts from a letter sent by a pupil to Councillor Butt which spoke of the positive experiences of pupils attending the school.

 

Ms Noreen Ahmed, a parent at the school, informed the meeting she was speaking on behalf of all the parents. She spoke of the friendly teaching staff and how the teachers help children. She stated that all children are treated equally stating that the school is more than a school, it is a family and community.

 

Marisa Malgieri said that she had been a teacher at Roe Green for the past ten years. She stated that the teaching corps had worked to maintain consistency and cohesion across the two sites. She stated that the proposed closure had deterred parents from applying during the admissions process. She stated that the proposed closure was soul destroying for the children.

 

Mrs J Sidhu, Head of School, Roe Green Strathcona, spoke of the alternative v additional use of the site. She stated that the Strathcona site was perfect for educating children with moderate learning difficulties given the good site access. She informed the meeting that the site could also be used as a family respite centre.

 

Ms E McLaren, Deputy Head Teacher, spoke to Cabinet of the length of the process leading to today’s Cabinet decision. She spoke of the informal and formal process. She stated that at no point did the school community feel it had been listened to. She stated that the report being considered by Cabinet contained flaws and inaccuracies and that some core issues had been ignored.

 

Councillor Daniel Kennelly, Preston Ward, urged Cabinet Members to reconsider any proposed closure. He stated that he felt the decision has been rushed, based solely on the financial implications. The impact on the children had not been taken into account. He stated his concern that the school was not advertised on the Council’s website which, he presumed, led to a fall in admissions.

 

Councillor Anita Thakkar, Preston Ward, spoke in recognition of the hard work of the staff. She stated that the viability of the site is evident from the Council report. She welcomed the proposed phased closure approach but urged Cabinet Members to ensure teachers, parents, pupils were adequately supported by the Council. She urged the Cabinet to ensure that there were no compulsory redundancies for teaching staff.

 

Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of the Council, thanked all the speakers and invited Councillor Agha to introduce the report.

 

Councillor Amer Agha, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills & Employment, introduced the report and stated that the report provided Cabinet with a summary of the formal consultation undertaken between 26 June 2019 and 24 July 2019 on a change in the age range of Roe Green Infant School and the closure of primary provision on the Roe Green Strathcona site from September 2020.

 

In response to questions from Councillor Harbi Farah, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, and Councillor Krupesh Hirani, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Agha explained that the Roe Green Strathcona provision was established in response to increasing demand for places across the Borough, as set out in the Brent School Place Planning Strategy 2014-18. He stated that the Roe Green Strathcona provision was initially opened as temporary provision for 210 places in total, 30 in each year group from Reception to Year 6.  He stated that, since 2017, there has been a reduction in the number of children applying for primary school places in the Borough that was not anticipated when the provision was established.

 

He stated that, in January 2019, there were 557 pupils on roll at Roe Green Infant School, of whom 110 were on the Roe Green Strathcona site. There were only 7 pupils in Reception on the Roe Green Strathcona site and all year groups, other than Year 5, had significantly lower numbers than 30.

 

Councillor Agha informed Cabinet that, for the purposes of admissions, when applying for a place at Roe Green Infant School, parents could make a preference for either the Roe Green Infant School Princes Avenue site or the Strathcona Road site. He stated that applications for Reception places on the Strathcona site for September 2019 were also low, with only 3 pupils expected to attend the Reception year group in September 2019

 

Councillor Agha informed Cabinet the Strathcona site is supported by the local funding formula. The school receives approximately £5,300 per pupil funding plus a split site allocation of £200k. With 110 pupils this totals £786k of funding that Roe Green Infant School receives to deliver school places at the Strathcona site. 

 

Councillor Agha stated that funding was provided by the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), and equated to nearly £7,100 per pupil for children at this site. This compared to an average of £5,000 per primary pupil across the borough. Given that there were spaces in other schools, the closure of the site would lead to more efficient use of DSG.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Tom Miller, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Engagement, about use of Brent Council’s consultation portal, Brian Grady, Operational Director, Safeguarding, Partnerships and Strategy, stated that Central Government had a prescribed consultation framework that Local Authorities must use in such circumstances.

 

Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of the Council, thanked Cabinet Members for their contributions. He stated that he had met with parents, children and the teaching staff and that local authorities, such as Brent, were forced into situations such as these because of the reduction in funding from central government. He outlined the central government funding cuts experienced by Brent.

 

RESOLVED: that Cabinet determined the proposal published in a statutory notice on 26 June 2019 to:

 

     i)        change the age range of Roe Green Infant School from 3-11 to 3-7

 

    ii)        reduce the school’s Published Admission Number (PAN) from 150 to 120 for September 2020

 

   iii)        implement a phased closure of the provision on the Roe Green Infant

School Strathcona site so that no new admissions were made into any

Reception cohort from September 2020 and the site be fully closed at the end of July 2022.

 

Supporting documents: