Dagenham schools merge despite 200 objections

A school merger will go ahead next week despite a parent-led campaign highlighting hundreds of objections to the amalgamation.

William Bellamy Infants will merge with its counterpart junior school to become an 800-pupil primary in Frizlands Lane, Dagenham.

Parents at the infant school gathered 230 signatures against the plans. A council spokesman said the objections centred around the changes that would affect young children.

But Barking and Dagenham cabinet decided to push ahead with the merger with the juniors.

Speaking at a meeting last Tuesday, education cabinet member, Cllr Rocky Gill, said: “As expected there was some resistance but this is about young people, providing excellence and the best education for them.”

Schools inspectorate Ofsted said educational standards at the infant school were inadequate, after an inspection in October 2011.

But teaching and leadership were judged to be satisfactory.

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Ofsted said the school’s capacity for improvement was satisfactory and has asked for improvements.

The headteacher of the infants, Lesley Phillips, declined to comment.

Barking and Dagenham Council said the majority of the 130 or so parents who had taken part in a consultation exercise on the merger had backed the plans to merge William Bellamy.

A spokesman said: “Parents raised a number of concerns, particularly about possible changes which might affect younger children, for example as whether playground arrangements would change and whether teachers would be expected to move from infant to junior classes.

“These are matters for the headteachers and governing bodies to address to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible for children, parents and staff.”

Meanwhile, Ofsted ruled the junior school was good after an inspection in 2010.

The cabinet also approved the merger of Grafton infant and junior school on March 20.

The new primary school in Grafton Road, Dagenham, will have 800 pupils.

In a cabinet report on the mergers, the council said having a single school would provide a more consistent approach to teaching, learning and planning, and help rationalise resources and gain efficiencies, but stated it was not intended to cut budgets.