COUNCILLORS “UNAWARE OF PAXTON PLANS”
Gipsy Hill’s own ward councillors were unaware of the proposals for Paxton primary school until last weekend.
Cllr Matthew Bennett told the meeting that was when people had contacted him on Twitter.
“This is not something we support. “We don’t think it’s a good idea. “But it’s been made a lot worse in the way it was communicated.” said Cllr Bennett who attended the meeting with fellow ward Cllr Luke Murphy.
Recalling there had been a lot of opposition to the original plans, he said Paxton was a primary school for local children. Parents would not need to drive to Paxton.
“If they are going to say ‘There’s people coming from further away, more teachers’ then that has huge implications. “It’s all well and good saying ‘ we’ll bring in eight forms and then move elsewhere.
“There’s not even been pre-planning conversations. “My concern is that if this goes ahead and the planning application doesn’t gp through where do the children go?
“It does strike me that proper thought has not been given to this. “If you’re a secondary school pupil you need to have the facilities.
“There’s going to be further conversations around another site. “We’d be happy to take notes of this meeting back to the council, particularly to planning.”
Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes, who played a large part in the meeting, said the issue is to take this to the Education Funding Agency .
“It shows the strength of feeling. “You should have been consulted. “I’m not sure the administrative criteria to this school holds up.
“Putting a secondary school in Clapham to serve children in this area doesn’t add up in so many ways.
“The EFA need to see how unacceptable the way they are running the schools programme can be for local communities.
“I can’t see the EFA will look at this and say it stacks up in current circumstances.” She asked people to write to her individually if they wished.
Southwark Cllr Andy Simmons (Lab College ward) said one problem of having an academy was that they could change their admissions structure at will. One year there were 30 children on the Kingswood estate none of whom got into one local academy in one particular year.
“There’s really no accountability – you have to hold someone to account” he added.
Sarah Thomas, National Union of Teachers said ward councilors in the Thornton ward in which the Glenbrook building stands, including council leader Cllr Lib Peck, had said they would not support putting up a secondary school on the Glenbrook site.
COMMENTS FROM THE MEETING
There were a wide range of comments during the 90-minute meeting with people emphasising they did not want to make the issue a personal one. Comments included:
“I completely oppose the proposal of having a year seven and year eight on the primary school site but I do support the idea of a Federation secondary school. “I just don’t approve of it there.”
“The two classrooms they are talking about using for secondary pupils are where the Special Educational Needs are.
“The science lab, art room, gym activity….How many people go into a school that doesn’t have the facilities to meet the national curriculum?”
“It’s only designed for use as a single school.
“Craig Tunstall said he would like parents to put pressure on the EFA for an interim site at Chapel Road (West Norwood). “I said if that were to happen I’d like to see Paxton removed as an interim site and I’d like to see that in writing. “I said there may be a way forward that parents would support Chapel Road as an interim site. “He said there were issues with planning.”
“I think he (Craig Tunstall) has realised this is not what the local community wants.”
“We were assured it was going to be specialised for primary school children. “After that there would be governance. “None of these things are happening. “Our kids will be without a playground for another year. “They will be disrupted for the entire time. “Things need to be agreed and written in a clear and transparent way. “We’re going to have less playground space because of the temporary classrooms and more kids.
“Thirteen year olds and six year olds is a big mismatch.” (Applause.)
“You’re going to have a primary school and a secondary school on the same playground – it doesn’t work.”
“If it does go ahead, who will be held accountable? Who is going to reassure us our children’s education for those two years is not going to go down?”
“Neighbourhood Watch on Jasper Road have raised concerns about traffic because of parents and teachers parking there because there is no parking outside the school. “A second school would be additional stress.”
“We’ve had builders starting at 8am. “They’re here Saturdays, Sundays, Bank Holidays. “They impact on local residents. “It looks like a tip. “The streets are filthy.”
“Has anybody thought about the psychological impact on moving kids from a school after one or two years?”
On transferring the Federation over to academy status: “When that happens Lambeth council will not have much of a say.”
“You will find when Paxton becomes an academy you will have even less of a say than you do now.”