Controversial Dagenham school merger gets the go-ahead

Plans to merge a community school and faith school in Dagenham have been given the green light despite objection from teachers and parents.

Village Infants School and William Ford C of E Junior School, both in Ford Road, will become a voluntary aided C of E primary school from September, councillors agreed at a cabinet meeting today.

Fourteen Village Infants teachers went on strike last Thursday in protest over the proposals, and have planned two further days of action next Tuesday and Wednesday. A petition against the merger, signed by 700 residents, was also handed to the council.

Speaking at the meeting, council leader Liam Smith, whose children have attended both schools, said he was “shocked that the teachers seem more interested in their own selves than the children”.

He added: “Many of these pupils will be upset to miss out on some of their last week at school”

Cllr Smith, who fully supports the merger, said the amalgamation would ensure pupils could stay at one school throughout their primary education and would also save the schools money.

Teachers told the Post last week they had all applied to work for a community school and were not happy that their employer would change from the local authority to the diocese.

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They also feared children from non church going families could be turned away and that standards at the two schools could suffer as a result of the amalgamation.

Barking and Dagenham’s director of children’s services Helen Jenner told councillors that Village Infants teachers are being offered the chance to move to another school if they do not want to work for a faith school.

She added: “The governing body at William Ford have agreed that their admissions policy will not favour C of E children.”

Ms Jenner said most parents of William Ford pupils supported the proposed merger.