Sheffield infant school’s ‘frustration’ at pupil consultation

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Parents and governors at a Sheffield primary school say they have been left with ‘many unanswered questions’ following a consultation into whether it should take on extra pupils to meet demand in the south-west of the city.

Dobcroft Infant School, in Millhouses, is being temporarily expanded with an extra foundation class of 30 pupils from September, and a consultation has taken place into whether the measure should be made permanent.

A report will now be prepared for Sheffield Council’s cabinet committee, setting out options for approval.

But in a letter to parents and the council, Dobcroft Infants’ governing body said this year’s expansion was a ‘short-sighted fix’ to a ‘problem that is not evident’.

They added that to expand the school permanently from 2016, four new classrooms would be needed as part of the ‘minimum requirement’ for foundation years.

“We welcomed the opportunity to consult on the 2016 decision,” governors said.

“We appreciate the time taken by council officers to address our numerous questions and opportunity to analyse their data. Drop-in sessions also enabled parents to air their concerns.

“There is an opportunity through a thorough planning process to improve the learning experience with new modern classrooms and improved external areas to mitigate any reduction in space.”

Initial indications were that Dobcroft Infants’ mobile classrooms would stay, with its ‘community hub’ extended and used as a classroom.

“These proposals fall well short of an acceptable solution and will put unacceptable pressure on the learning environment,” governors said.

“The consultation process has been disappointing. The lack of information has left the governing body and parents frustrated, with many unanswered questions.”

Teaching staff were ‘confident’ that a further class each year could be managed, but the school would need to be ‘adequately adapted’.

“Despite the major issues, we acknowledge the permanent extension may go ahead,” said the governors.

“In such circumstances, the governing body, leadership and staff team will work with council officers to deliver the best solution for pupils.”

Clifford CE Infants in Nether Edge and Ecclesall Infant and Junior School are also against the plans, saying they are not enough to tackle the situation. Expanding Ecclesall Infants is proposed instead.