"Sardine School" Threat Put Back in Tin

Derwentwater Primary expansion stopped after dramatic Council U-turn

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Parents at Acton’s largest primary school were today celebrating the news that Ealing Council have, in the face of significant and compelling evidence, reconsidered the proposal for any expansion on the site and have instructed officials to look elsewhere.

Councillor Jason Stacey wrote to the Derwentwater Chair of Governors, Sophie Harrowes, to let her know the good news. Cllr Stacey’s letter said, “In January of this year the Cabinet agreed that Derwentwater should not be permanently expanded. It seems to me that in assessing the question of temporary expansion the same factors should be considered.

"Temporary expansion may mean less overall numbers than a permanent expansion but there still has to be the space and practical ability to be able to comfortably accommodate any extra numbers.”

He concluded, “In short, I agree with the concerns that have been raised by the Headteacher, Governing Body and some parents”, adding, “I have asked officers to review all the options once again and in the mean time not to progress the issue of temporary expansion at Derwentwater.”

Cllr Stacey made a personal visit to the school just before it closed for the Easter break and spent some hours with the Head and Governors discussing the issues in detail, looking around the facilities and seeing for himself how cramped it would be if temporary buildings were allowed.

Governors were keen for Cllr Stacey to see how their remarkable and cohesive community school manages successfully with 725 children in a largely Victorian building, despite having the smallest amount of space per child in the local area.

Cllr Stacey was clearly impressed and listened carefully to the Governors’ opposition to the addition of temporary portakabin classrooms which focussed on space per child, reduction of facilities and the Council’s own consultation criteria (which had previously assessed Derwentwater as unsuitable for permanent expansion).

Sophie Harrowes, Chair of Governors, wrote to Cllr Stacey to express her delight. She said: “It is really excellent news that you have stopped the threatened expansion at Derwentwater…Thank you for proving that politicians do listen and for making a real difference to our discussions with the Council.”

The Derwentwater Action to Reject Expansion (DARE) campaign has generated huge local support from parents and residents in Acton which has been reflected in the support shown by local politicians.

Charlie Mawer, Chair of the DARE campaign, reacted to the news saying, “Cllr Stacey has proved that democracy really does work and that our local Council is prepared to listen, think and change direction. It’s a victory for the pupils and a victory for common sense”. He added, “Cllr Stacey and Conservative parliamentary candidate Angie Bray deserve real praise for grasping the problem and removing the threat of Derwentwater becoming a Sardine School.”


April 8, 2010