On the 26th April there was a meeting at Orleans Infants to explain to parents the need for a temporary classroom to accommodate an extra class of Reception students. Richmond Council also provided a detailed note explaining the reasons for adding the class at Orleans, instead of other schools in the borough.

The reason for adding an additional class at Orleans Infants…

“This exceptional demand is more concentrated within St Margarets than it is in any part of the borough and the need for additional places for 2007/2008 entry is therefore greater there than elsewhere. We do not believe that this demand will dissipate before September unless additional places are provided.

We therefore feel that providing an extra class at Orleans Infant is the right thing to do, as it would meet the excess demand more fully than any other school could.”

Plans for this bulge year upon graduation…

“We are confident that, were an additional class provided at the school, any children from the cohort who, in three years’ time, could not be offered places at St Stephen’s could be accommodated at other schools, including The Vineyard and Chase Bridge. However, St Stephen’s would welcome additional children to ensure that they are able to budget for the high quality education they provide. The school currently has a falling roll, with 40 vacant places, which is a significant issue for the school and their children.”

Regarding longer term issues with providing additional spaces…

“From a longer-term perspective, our pupil forecasts predict a consistent, but small, shortfall of places in St Margarets over the next eight years, but those forecasts will now have to be revised to take account of the clearly much smaller ‘drop-off’ to the private sector. The Authority will therefore reconsider the possibility of expanding Orleans Infant to a four-form entry school. Although they were specifically asked last year to look into the feasibility of changing the school into a 420-place school, the fact that IID’s architects felt that there was room for such expansion means that there should be room for expanding the school into a 360-place infant school instead. We will advise the administration that this expansion appears now to be essential, subject to securing funding from the DfES.”

No matter how you look at it there are still several open issues:

  • The Council has no ability to know how many children have moved into an area and can only react to numbers when parents apply for school places.
  • Even if Orleans was expanded to four intake classes, there is no realistic way to expand St Stephens Junior School.
  • The success of the St Margarets’ Schools will continue to attract new parents from across Greater London.

Thank you to Simon Lamb for providing the Council’s note and offering up many of these points for consideration.