I was Chair of Governors of Darley Dale Primary School for a number of years, and I am always interested in anything concerning the school. So when I read a letter in last week’s Mercury from a Mr Thwaites, about a planning application by DCC for development on the schools site, it immediately caught my attention.
I am astonished that Mr Thwaites’s letter makes not a single reference to what I regard as the central issue, the needs of the school and the children, who receive their education there. This is odd as around 90 four-to-seven years olds currently attend the infant department.
During my years as governor of the school, some of our biggest worries were around the danger, inconvenience and expense of the old building. I list below a few of the problems:
1) Health and safety – At least five journeys have to be made in all weathers each week between the sites to give the infants access to assemblies and PE lessons. This is made dangerous by steps, sloping walkways and moving traffic (there have been a few near misses). Also, it is an almost impossible task for children with disabilities. 2) State of the Building – Working conditions for staff and children are poor, there is a low ratio of toilets for children and staff. The heating system is insufficient and expensive, and light levels are poor. Around £5000,000 would be needed to tackle all this, and some modifications are impossible.
3) Quality of Education – At their last inspection, OFSTED said the infant building is no longer up to the standard required for present day teaching. Not a great start for our little ones!
I’m sure everyone will agree that moving the school to one site would cut down wasted learning time, reduce recurring costs and increase efficiency.
The proposed move seems imminently sensible. It has been on the agenda for years but there has never been any money available. Now even in these difficult times following the sale of land the dream could become reality, with the extra bonus of much needed affordable housing. I can’t understand why a way can’t be found to resolve the issue.Surely this is a golden opportunity for the people of Darley Dale?