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New primary school for Lewisham?
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fhmum


Posts: 37
Joined: Jul 2010
Post: #1
01-12-2010 09:14 PM

Dear Forum Users

I'm a mother in Forest Hill who is leading a campaign for a new primary school in the area. I am keen to have a Montessori method primary school which would be entirely government funded under the free school initiative.

We are rapidly gaining support and I'd like to hear from anyone else who might support us - parents, businesses, educators. There is a huge shortage of reception class places in Lewisham and we want our plan to address that.

Please keep in touch here:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Lewisha...4934002382

And sign our petition if you share our vision for an exceptional school: http://www.gopetition.com/petition/40913.html

Thanks for your support.
Sarah

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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #2
05-12-2010 11:55 PM

I think its a good idea but not sure where it would/should go in the borough. Perhaps its time for a cross borough initiative partnering with Southwark as the Forest Hill Road area down to Peckham seems to be light on schools and many Southwark children go to Fairlawn as I understand it.

Personally I think any new school should be local authority maintained as that is in the best interests of the whole community and prospective pupils as well as existing ones. They look at the balance of interests and needs and aim to meet those, not always 100% successfully but I am more comfortable with such an arrangement that one set up and governed by enthusiastic parents as I do not regard this as a sustainable model nor do I see any advantage, just disadvantage for children with special needs. Im not convinced about this free school model either and think such ventures should remain in the private sector.

Thats not to say that continuous improvement and amendments to educational strategy as a result of new research and a changing world isn't a bad thing but that can also be done whilst under LA control and through a national curriculum.

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fhmum


Posts: 37
Joined: Jul 2010
Post: #3
07-12-2010 09:25 PM

The school we hope for would follow the Montessori method which has had some enormous successes around the world and most recently at Gorton Mount in Manchester.

The school, if approved, would be run by a provider of educational services selected with great care. There would certainly be parent representatives on the governing body - after all that happens at all schools but running the school day to day? That's best left to the experts.

To address your comment about children with special needs, Montessori is an exceptionally good way to help those children. It focuses on helping every child reach their very own potential whatever that may be without setting artificial standards that some surpass and some others may never reach and without stressful testing.

Our motivation for campaigning for this school is our love of the way Montessori teaching nurtures and helps all children develop.

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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #4
07-12-2010 09:56 PM

http://www.antiacademies.org.uk/Home/free-schools

Unfortunately there is another side to the free school/academy debate. See above! I am another Forest Hill mother who will be sending her children to a free school or an academy over my dead body so whilst I welcome discussion on new primary schools, I am greatly opposed to them being out of the state system and certainly would not want a Montessori free primary funded from my taxes. The AntiAcademies Alliance website sets it all out better than I could explain.

Personally I think people who want these schools should not be taking public money but obtaining their own finance as they are essentially , private establishments with their own rules.

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DerbyHillTop


Posts: 120
Joined: Aug 2008
Post: #5
08-12-2010 09:43 AM

As a mother of 2 toddlers the schools questions and choices (or no choices) make me uneasy to say the least. This is because my education was in a country where there was one system. The state one and that was it. I went to my nearest school (whole 100 yards from my block of flats) until the age of 15. Then we had some choice in which areas we wanted to specialise (this was done on school level), so it was only at that age that one would consider using public transport to get to school. I am sure the system was not perfect in every way, but I got an excellent education. I guess that a big part to good education was:
one system - promotes meritocracy and inclusiveness
small class size which was in region of 22-26
well trained teachers
faiths were private matters and therefore were not included in schools
So like Roz I would be opposed to creation of any other type of school, and would rather pressure one education body to improve standards for all.

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michael


Posts: 3,196
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #6
08-12-2010 11:00 AM

We can't really complain about a serious shortage of primary school places in the borough in the next few years, and then oppose any effort to create new schools funded by the state.

At present the local education authority has no plans to build new schools in the south of Lewisham or to significantly expand the sites of existing primary schools. When consulted about the Core Strategy and Site Allocations Report my understanding is that the LEA found no requirement for additional school space in the south of the borough, so no plans were included. I believe this was a serious oversight on behalf of the LEA based on the current birth rate and population projections for Lewisham.

Free schools may be the best way to provide new state school places in the local area and provide a wider choice than is currently available. I think I would prefer a Montessori school funded by my taxes than a faith school (most of which are Christian in this area) which have always concerned me as being divisive to society.

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fhmum


Posts: 37
Joined: Jul 2010
Post: #7
08-12-2010 08:24 PM

Our schools are too full and new schools are needed. I'm prepared to put in the many hundreds of hours of work involved in creating that school for my children and our community. I fail to see how this can be anything but helpful in reducing overcrowding in existing schools. This has to be good for teachers, school leaders and ultimately, what's important, the children of Lewisham.

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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #8
08-12-2010 09:09 PM

I doubt whether creating schools with no community accountability, unclear admissions standards, potentially selective admissions codes, and a plethora of governance and financial management challenges , is going to serve the children of anywhere. There are many questions and few answers about how schools can simply take on the additional responsibilities currently provided centrally by local authorities. We are probably talking about corporate sponsorship and donors such as Harris who are already prevalent in Southwark in the long term as any school will have to provide its own financial support for a very long time indeed.

This is not the time to start expensive and uncertain politically driven experiments with education. We cannot afford it. Change for changes sake is expensive . A new quango has already been set by the ConDems at considerable cost with no certain outcome. Labour had a lot of weaknesses, and I really couldn't stand Ed Balls, and I;m not a fan of excessive testing, but from what I can see there have been a lot of positive outcomes from the work and spending plans of the last Labour government and many schools have really been turned around. The vast majority of state primaries today provide an excellent education which is why so many are rated as excellent by Ofsted. I really therefore resent the ConDem pillage of these schools and their attempts to siphon them off . I do not therefore see the need to fully revise the system in order to change what is working well overall.

I don't know how old the consultation referred to by Michael was but if true then its clearly factually incorrect , but that does not mean an entire new school is automatically justified and that school should be outside the system.

This government is proposing and fast tracking many changes within the education system that I as a parent do not feel are appropriate or beneficial to my childrens future. It is time that parents awoke fast to these changes and decided whether these are reasonable or not and if not, to take action before its too late. There seems to be a pretence at consultation but the schools can decide themselves who is to be consulted. Schools are there for the community, not just current pupils, and to have this sort of consultation system is a farce.

A school which fails to address and support the varied needs of pupils and which may even have to resort to cherry picking children to the detriment of those with more complex needs, will not serve our children and effectively will cancel out any alleged benefit from the Montessori system.

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fhmum


Posts: 37
Joined: Jul 2010
Post: #9
08-12-2010 09:34 PM

"A school which fails to address and support the varied needs of pupils and which may even have to resort to cherry picking children to the detriment of those with more complex needs, will not serve our children and effectively will cancel out any alleged benefit from the Montessori system."

This is an unfair assumption made with very limited information about the type of school we're planning. Every child has complex needs. The very minimum of these is a classroom where the teacher can give them all adequate attention. Our overcrowded schools are struggling to achieve this and the situation is set to worsen.

There is also no reason to say there would be unclear admissions standards or selective admissions codes. These are not allowed under the free school initiative.

What is wrong with giving power to parents to do what they feel is best for their children?

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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #10
08-12-2010 09:53 PM

Parents may be good at determining what is best for their own children but not necessarily for everyone elses. Put a group of parents in a room and I doubt whether any will remotely agree with each other on the best way to deliver education. There are as many points of view as there are London buses depending on personal politics, ambition, and to be honest, prejudices.
So I really don't want the views of a small group of parents deciding the educational path of my children, sorry!

There are very big questions about how any school can deal with the support services needed which are currently supplied by the local authority including support for SEN and that is a current concern of parents when contemplating the free school or academy status.

Anyway, time other people joined this debate!

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fhmum


Posts: 37
Joined: Jul 2010
Post: #11
08-12-2010 10:05 PM

The educational path of your children will still be decided by you. You will just have a broader choice.

Why don't you start a campaign against free schools or, more postively, in favour of the kind of funding and schools you believe are appropriate. We don't live in an ideal world but I believe taking some action to improve our lot is better than bemoaning the inadequacies of the current system.

I welcome others to the debate too. I have a campaign to run so I'll say good night.

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seeformiles


Posts: 269
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #12
08-12-2010 10:21 PM

I was going to add - surely teachers are also well qualified to judge what is best for their pupils?

Presumably as FHMum says, it would mean more choice for everyone - not a situation where you are forced to send your kids to schools you are opposed to on principle.

Maybe I'm being naive, but more choice has to be better than overcrowding. I currently work in a very overcrowded educational establishment and can see first-hand how much it is struggling to provide enough literacy support for the sheer numbers of students who need our help.

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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #13
08-12-2010 11:11 PM

I don't see how this school would offer more choice. If it is the nearest school to where we live, then we are likely to be given a place there whether or not we agree with Montessori or not or whether we agree with free schools or not. A specific Montessori primary only serves to reduce choice if people are forced to go there. I do actually feel the same way about faith schools and support the French secular approach.

I don't believe I was bemoaning the inadequacies of the current system- I rather like it.

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Sherwood


Posts: 1,347
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #14
09-12-2010 07:55 AM

Where do you propose to build/site this new school?

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fhmum


Posts: 37
Joined: Jul 2010
Post: #15
09-12-2010 09:13 AM

We're still looking for a site. There are a number of possibilities out there but it's not easy to find the right kind of building that won't cost a fortune to fit out.

Any leads gratefully received.

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michael


Posts: 3,196
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #16
09-12-2010 09:27 AM

I have been giving some thought to where a new primary might be built in South West Lewisham (regardless of funding methodology and politics). There are a shortage of large enough sites that would be suitable for a new primary school, but there is one that I noticed that would seem suitable for a new primary and that is the site of the old Greenvale school on Perry Rise. At present it is playing host to Gordonbrook while their school is rebuilt, but I don't believe there are currently any plans to bring it back into use as a school.

The close proximity of this site to Adamsrill means that it would offer additional choice to children in the area and having a different type of school in such a location (close to a well repected school) might make some sense.

The problem with the current situation is that with bulge classes every year for many schools in the borough, the schools must run out of spare space fairly soon.

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fhmum


Posts: 37
Joined: Jul 2010
Post: #17
09-12-2010 09:36 AM

Thanks Michael. I will look into it.

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thenutfield


Posts: 235
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #18
09-12-2010 08:51 PM

these so called 'Free Schools' are a simple political stunt. The ConDem government have allocated a (proportionately) tiny amount of money to them, which shows it is there simply as a headline grabber.

Which is a good thing, I suppose, as the alternative is worse - wealthy, pushy parents not wanting to send their children to the local state primary school, but instead forcing the local council to have to divert funds away from where they are most needed, to set up some flaky 'free school' with no regulation. Even Nick Clegg has called them a 'disaster for standards'.

The parents wont 'run' these schools - that is a total myth - they will employ educational 'charities' (in the same way that Dulwich College is a charity) - ie using council taxpayers money to fund private education.

If you want a good eduction for your children FHMum, be an active parent at your local primary - they need people like you, and that way the community benefits, not just the lucky few.

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fhmum


Posts: 37
Joined: Jul 2010
Post: #19
09-12-2010 09:07 PM

I have tried being "an active Mum" at my local primary school. I was one of just two parents who showed up to a school-wide parents/staff meeting. With those odds I have very little chance of influencing the path of my children's education.

For the record, I am neither wealthy nor pushy and you are mistaken when you say the schools will be flaky and without regulation. Free schools will be held accountable financially and to Ofsted in the same way as any other state school.

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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #20
09-12-2010 09:29 PM

FHMum, you could be a governor. Schools need people with ambition and drive like you are showing.

I don't mean any disrespect to you personally for what you are doing- its very admirable but I do share the reservations about this governments education proposals for the reasons given above and for those reasons I would not welcome a free school in my locality and the very thought of a potentially two tier system at primary level fills me with dread. These schools will no doubt be given money at the expense of other less 'interesting' and headline grabbing schools and that is simply not fair on the majority of children.

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