Pupil problems prompt calls for St John’s Wood school gates to move

Campaign to change Quintin Kynaston school entrance after anti-social behaviour affects residents

A St John’s Wood school is under pressure to move its entrance gate after problems with students’ anti-social behaviour in the residential road where the gate is currently located.

Police officers, councillors and residents are all campaigning for the unused Finchley Road entrance to Quintin Kynaston School (QK) to be opened for sixth formers in order to relieve pressure on Marlborough Hill where the main gate is located.

But they say headteacher Jo Shuter has refused to discuss the possibility of a trial period for the Finchley Road gate, cancelling negotiation meetings with police officers.

Abbey Road councillor Lindsey Hall said: “I would like the school to at least trial the gate opening.

“If they were to do the trial it would solve the problem that the residents are faced with at the moment which is hoards of teenagers hanging around the street in Marlborough Hill.

“Most of them are fine but who is going to challenge them en masse?”

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Marlborough Hill resident representative Dick Schumacher says there are issues with anti-social behaviour on the road as well as noise and litter problems mainly caused by sixth form students congregating outside the school.

In December, police were forced to call for extra resources to break up an organised street fight on the road while two weeks before residents reported seeing students confronting police outside the school, swearing and threatening physical violence when asked not to cycle on pavements.

Mr Schumacher, who is the QK representative for the Marlborough Hill, Carlton Hill and Loudoun Road Residents Action Group, said: “The idea of trialling the Finchley Road gate would seem a way to remove that behaviour from the close proximity of resident housing on Marlborough Hill over to Finchley Road which is a wider street and has less residential accommodation immediately facing it.

“It’s quite frustrating that the school seems unwilling to discuss the issue. There have been several meetings scheduled that have been cancelled at short notice.”

Abbey Road Safer Neighbourhood Team Sergeant Denis O’Connor confirmed: “Abbey Road SNT have worked closely with assistant headteacher Tina Ward and residents to address the issue of anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of Quintin Kynaston, with some success.

“Over the longer term, we feel there is the potential to reduce anti-social behaviour through minor environmental changes, and we are keen to trial these ideas with the school.”

However, Ms Shuter says the school has no intention of opening the gate following an incident 12 years ago when a student was killed in a traffic accident on Finchley Road.

“As far as the school is concerned it is not going to happen,” she said. “We don’t consider it a safe way for the students to leave and enter the school en masse.

“Safety is paramount and it’s on that basis that we are not going to open the gate.

“We had a meeting with the police before Christmas and we tried to schedule another meeting in the last week of term but it was hectic. To my knowledge we have not had another meeting put in the diary but I have no problem meeting with the police.”

Residents claim the junction of Finchley Road and Marlborough Place has been reconfigured since the tragic accident with proper pedestrian crossings installed.

Police also say they are prepared to introduce further steps to calm traffic while councillors have offered to fund a hut permanently manned by a PCSO to enable safe monitoring of the gate.

If the school fails to discuss the issue before the Westminster council meeting on January 26, residents say they will collect a petition for Cllr Hall to present at the meeting calling for the gate to be opened.