PRIMARY SCHOOL COULD HOUSE UP TO 480 SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS – More than 100 at public meeting
Plans to use Paxton primary school to house up to 480 secondary school pupils over a two-year period came under fire from parents and residents at a public meeting on Tuesday night.
The meeting heard of proposals by the Gipsy Hill Federation which would see:
- Eight classes with 240 secondary school pupils in September 2017 using the existing classrooms on the top floor of Paxton primary school on Woodland Road.
- That figure would double to 480 in 2018
- The move, which would require temporary classrooms, was being proposed because the Federation want to open a new secondary school – somewhat confusingly called Gipsy Hill – on the site of the Glenbrook primary school in Clarence Avenue, Clapham
- The meeting heard no planning application for the new secondary school on the Glenbrook site has yet been submitted – and there have been no pre-planning discussions.
- The Federation and the Educational Funding Agency (EFA) – an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Education whose roles include building maintenance programmes for schools and sixth-form colleges – do not yet have a programme to show when pupils would be moved off the Paxton site and onto the Glenbrook site.
- Some people attending the meeting backed the idea of using a site in Chapel Road, West Norwood instead of Paxton primary. (No-one dissented.) Opening the meeting Michelle Roffe, parent and local resident, said it had been six days since they received letters announcing the proposals.”Thanks to the huge work done by an awful lot of people Paxtonmatters* has been set up to collect emails so we can respond to planning applications, et cetera.”Many of you have contacted MP Helen Hayes and local councilors and people from the press. “I’m really pleased.
“A petition to the Federation went live on Sunday evening. “By last night (Monday) it had 501 supporters – that’s the equivalent of someone signing every five minutes to register their opposition.
“Looking through those comments you can see the strength of feeling and the wide range of issues we are trying to cover this evening.”
Michelle Roffe explained that The Department for Education had approved, subject to planning permission, a new secondary school on the site of the Glenbrook primary school in Clapham which would be called Gipsy Hill with an eight-class intake from September 2017 .
“That will involve work similar to what’s happened here at Paxton, building on the existing playground, hence the delay of not opening until 2019.”
Parents applying for year seven need to apply by the end of this month and time is running out for the Federation to run the site and for the Education Funding Agency to fund it.
The Federation went to the EFA and suggested using Paxton from 2017. The EFA would send a technical team to the Paxton site and do a feasibility report.
Michelle later told the meeting that figures from Lambeth council, which has a statutory duty to protect places, had forecast there would be a surplus of 269 secondary school places.
What that meant was that if Gipsy Hill secondary school did not open next year every child who applied for a secondary school in Lambeth would still have a place. And a similar situation existed in Southwark, she added.
At the start of the meeting she stressed she was not a spokesperson “There are a mixture of people coming here: some to find out, some to voice concerns, some to give ideas about what we can do about it.”
At the close she said: “We need a commitment in writing that Paxton is off the table for 2017. “Where Craig Tunstall** is saying we need the Chapel Road site (in West Norwood) we need to support the Federation in that application.
“My biggest anger is that hundreds of people have put in hundreds of hours just to keep the status quo.”
The meeting heard claims from the floor that there would be temporary classrooms on the playground and that there was no longer a governance structure at the school.
**Lambeth council’s annual accounts describe Sir Craig Tunstall as executive headteacher of the Federation of Kingswood and Elmwood primary schools and children’s centres. The Gipsy Hill Federation website describes him as CEO (chief executive officer).
To view the petition please go to change.org and search ‘Paxton’. NOTE: Chapel Road, which lies between Knights Hill and Gipsy Road in West Norwood, is the road behind the Big Yellow storage building which, in turn, is behind West Norwood bus garage.