I don't believe that there is an all-encompassing answer to a question of this nature, but it's always best to keep in mind the rule of thumb: Anything can work provided it is good enough.
More specifically, it depends greatly on what you are trying to accomplish through this 'infodump.' Judging by the tone of your post, I find mainly two possibilities:
- Establish irony and set the general tone of the book to come. This is the scenario where infodumps usually work well, because much of the entertainment/beauty of the book comes from the style of writing — a common trope in postmodern classics. When done well, this can be game-changing. Off the top of my head, the beginning of Catch-22 does something similar:
In a way the C.I.D. man was pretty lucky, because outside the hospital the war was
still going on. Men went mad and were rewarded with medals. All over the world, boys
on every side of the bomb line were laying down their lives for what they had been
told was their country, and no one seemed to mind, least of all the boys who were
laying down their young lives. There was no end in sight.
(Joseph Heller, Catch-22)
This is not so much an infodump as it is Heller setting the scene for much of the irony in the book through a satirical description of the war. If this is your goal, I would say go for it in your first draft, but later consider whether you can accomplish your goal without it.
- Give the reader crucial information about the place through a paragraph at the beginning. This, in my opinion, is a hard no. The beginning of a book (the first chapter especially) should be dedicated to setting up your characters, most notably the protagonist, and introducing the first bit of mystery. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, for instance, begins with a very exaggerated description of the Dursleys, and then quickly introduces a central mystery — despite being a simple and perfectly respectable family, they have relatives they wish to hide. Thus the description of Albus Dumbledore works because it is obviously out-of-place:
Nothing like this man had ever been seen on Privet Drive. He was tall, thin, and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak that swept the ground, and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright, and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice. This man’s name was Albus Dumbledore. (JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)
Both of these are examples of situations where an 'infodump' works because they are not actually infodumps, despite appearing so at first sight. They instead reveal a great deal about the world without actually revealing much information at all!
What you are suggesting, however, can work if and only if it does the following:
- introduces mystery/suspense into the story,
- reveals crucial information trivially,
- involves character interplay,
- is not a straight-up description.
For example, if the description of the school is about the terrible sports team, you'll probably end up with something like this, which is both constrained and unnatural:
Tottenham High was the joke of London high schools. It was small, cramped, and the prime location of [character's] misadventures. Apart from a library that held a grand total of one shelf, it was known mainly for its junior sized football field, the frequenters of which had never failed to lose it a match.
Thus I would recommend against the infodump, unless you can contextually justify its existence by looking at the previous examples as well as ensuring that it is true to the themes and the core of the story.