IT was the place John Lennon remembered for teaching him the Three ‘R’s and is so popular today that families move close by just so their children can go there.
Dovedale Junior School, off Penny Lane, has remained virtually unchanged since the former Beatle was a pupil in the late 1940s and early 1950s, sharing inkwells with George Harrison, Peter Sissons and Jimmy Tarbuck.
But parents today launched a campaign to halt a plan that would see the present school, built in the 1930s, expanded to accommodate 840 pupils - the size of some of the city’s senior schools. There are currently 630 places.
They have sent a letter to Mayor Joe Anderson pleading with him to say no to the proposed expansion of the school, saying 210 more children will lead to a traffic nightmare and overcrowding that will be a tipping point for the effectiveness of the school.
During recent consultations there were 75 objections about plans to increase pupil numbers at Dovedale. Plans to expand other schools in the city attracted just two complaints.
One of the parents told Liverpool Confidential: “Parents' and residents' concerns centre mainly on road traffic safety issues, the lack of space inside and outside the school for expansion and the already large numbers at the school.
“This proposal would leave Dovedale with 840 pupils, not conducive to the nurturing and supportive environment required by children in the primary years of school. This is especially true of pupils with SEN or additional social, emotional or learning needs.”
They are planning to hand in a petition the council cabinet meets this Friday.
“The future of our school lies in Mayor Anderson’s hands,” they said. “We really hope he will help us to remain a happy, healthy school that already provides more school places for the authority than any other primary in the area”.
Cllr Richard Kemp, councillor for the area as well as Lib Dem leader in Liverpool has written to Liverpool's cabinet member for schools, Cllr Jane Corbett, pleading with he to withdraw the proposals.
Dovedale joint: Lennon
strikes a pose"I am not against the expansion in principle but I cannot see how it can be done.” he writes. “Internally the building is cramped and it is on a small site which will make physical expansion difficult. Externally, traffic is already a nightmare in the mornings and afternoon. Both the police and I have major reservations that that the road system could cope with the expansion. The expansion is opposed by the majority of parents, potential parents and by an overwhelming majority of local residents. Please think again.”
But Cllr Corbett said: “The expansion is good news as it is indicative of the successful regeneration of Liverpool which means the city’s population is growing again for the first time in many decades. Combined with the increased birth rate, there is additional demand for school places and we need to take action to make sure parents and carers are able to secure a place at their local primary school.
“This is about taking action now to tackle the areas where we know there is the greatest demand, to alleviate some of the pressure. The schools that we have identified meet the Government’s very strict criteria for this funding.”
She added: “We know from the consultation that some local residents are concerned about the knock on effect for parking and traffic and we will be looking carefully at this as part of the process.”
The city council wants to expand the number of primary school places in six areas of Liverpool to deal with increased demand for desks.
The city faces a shortfall of up to 300 reception class places by September 2017 due to a growth in population and an increase in the birth rate. By 2019, the total primary school population in Liverpool is expected to have risen by around 4,400 pupils.
The city council has received £15.4 million of funding from the government to help address the issue. This Friday the council cabinet is to consider proposals for Phase One of an expansion that will create an additional 150 places by September 2015 in the areas facing the greatest demand.
The primary schools chosen in Church, Picton, Princes Park, Riverside, Wavertree and Belle Vale meet the Government’s strict criteria for funding to expand each over the next seven years. They are judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, have consistent and sustainable demand and are unable to serve the local area because demand for places outstrips supply.
Dovedale Infant and Junior Schools in Church will be amalgamated on their existing sites and an additional form of entry will be created to take its admission intake up from 90 to 120 pupils, providing more places for local families and meaning brothers and sisters don’t have to attend separate schools due to a lack of places. For the September 2014 intake, the school had 55 children on its waiting list.
In Picton, St Anne’s Catholic Primary - which has 24 children on the waiting list, and Smithdown Primary, which has 44, will see an increase in intake from 30 to 60.
In Princes Park, St Silas Church of England Primary will see its intake increased from 30 to 45, as will St Cleopas Church of England Primary in Riverside which had 54 applications for 30 places.
Christ the King Catholic Primary in Wavertree, which has 23 children on its waiting list, will see its reception intake increased from 45 to 60 pupils, as will St Paschal Baylon Catholic Primary in Belle Vale, which was oversubscribed by 58 applications.
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