Oct 8 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
CHILDREN could lose out on a quality education under plans to quickly create hundred of much-needed school places, critics have claimed.
Brent Council laid out plans over the summer to expand primary schools by 490 places, but there are still 77 children in the borough who are not in education and ‘bulge’ classes are still being created at nine sites.
The classes are an emergency measure but could put a strain on schools’ resources, said Martin Francis, children and families spokesman for Brent Green Party.
Mr Francis said: “This does have a danger of worsening standard of facilities in schools, but it depends on the size of the playground and taking away some of the shared facilities like a library or computer space to make new classrooms.
“In solving short-term or medium-term issues, they are storing up problems for the long-term.
“What I would like to see instead are completely new schools.”
Mr Francis is also a governor at Chalkhill Primary, Barnhill Way, Wembley, where a bulge class is being created.
He added: “We thought we owed it to the children who were without an education to offer them a place in the bulge class.”
The nine sites where expansion will take place are Ashley Gardens Early Learning Centre, Wembley High, Vicar’s Green in Ealing, Curzon Crescent Children’s Centre, College Green Nursery, Chalkhill Primary, Mount Stewart Infants, Preston, at the former library site, and Stonebridge Centre.
Labour councillor Mary Arnold, lead member for children and families, said: “We are only making additional class places available where they will be quality school places and the service will be available in the normal way.”
By 2020-21, Brent will require an additional 21 classes of 30 children in primary schools, up to 19 forms of entry for secondary places and 192 special educational needs places.
Labour councillor George Crane, the lead member for regeneration and major projects, said temporary primary school places are on target to create 490 school places by the end of the autumn term.
A council spokesman said: “We expect to offer all pupils who are out of school a place during the autumn term.
“We offered a place to all those who applied for reception on time this year, which was January 15, but there have since been more than 670 new applications.”
■ Is your child without a place? Call our reporter on 07909 532 453.