Tensions flared at a public consultation meeting about Oatlands Junior School’s proposals to expand and become a full primary.
It was standing room only on Monday, as dozens of parents and Oatlands residents packed out the junior school hall to have their say on the plans.
Some of the main concerns from the floor included the impact of the expansion on congestion and road safety, what the transition would mean for children currently in year one and reception at Oatlands Infant School, and how the plans will impact on the infants in the long term.
One concerned audience member asked - “why fix something when it’s not broken?” - sharing the opinion of not being convinced by the educational case for changing the current set-up, which sees many children traditionally moving from the infant school to the juniors.
Oatlands Junior’s chair of governors, Chris Tulley, started the meeting by setting out the school’s stance.
He said: “Looking at the long term, whilst the two schools over the years have done really good jobs together, and worked hard to make the transition issues as seamless as possible, there is still an issue and there is no doubt that the educational case can’t be argued against - primary schools do better for more of the children, and our obligation is to look at all of the children - not just the ones who are currently at the school, and not just the ones who are currently at the infants, but the years ahead.
“We have to take the long term view and that is why we are putting this out to consultation, and it is a consultation - it is not a done deal.”
Mr Tulley gave reassurance to parents who have children in reception, year one, or have children about to start reception at the infant school.
He said: “We’ve looked at it long and hard, and what I can say to you this evening is that if we get these extra classrooms, then we will find a place for every single one of those children at this school if they apply here.”
Residents living on the street raised concerns about traffic and potential dangers to children.
One said: “There’s only going to be increased traffic down this road. People are in a rush, they want to drop
off, they want to get off. They come up and down this road quickly if they’re late, and there are going to be more cars parked across driveways with kids stepping out, it’s a real issue.”
Mr Tulley said road safety is an issue that the school continues to prioritise and review.