No trust in Trusts!

Over 60 people turned up to the meeting at Goldsmiths Student Union to  support the campaign to prevent the proposed Goldsmiths Trust undermining locally accountable community schooling in Lewisham. Unlike the Council’s thinly attended ‘drop-in’, parents, teachers, support staff, councillors, lecturers and students attended our meeting last night. The turnout and range of people involved showed the potential strength of our opposition – opposition which we now need to mobilise in all the ways we discussed last night. These included:

  • Responding to the ‘consultation’ – getting initial responses back by July 20th
  • Lobbying governors – as the individuals who can take the decision to stop the Trust, by letter, personal contact etc.
  • Leafleting parents – I plan to draw up a 2-side leaflet. We will be leafleting outside Addeys and Standhope school on Monday 6 july at 3.15pm – please lend your support.
  • We also want to organise leafleting at Deptford Green and Crossways – please let us know if you are available.
  • Protest meeting – we need to confirm time and venue for a well-publicised public meeting next term.
  • Strike action – union members need to discuss now with their colleagues about the need to organise action.

These plans – and any other ideas – will be confirmed at the next:  

Campaign committee on Wednesday 8 July,  4pm, Room 141, Ground Floor, Goldsmiths (near the main entrance).

 Martin Powell-Davies




An eviction notice has been served on the occupation at Lewisham Bridge.

Bailiffs are arriving at 10.30am on Wednesday, 24TH June.

Hands Off Lewisham Bridge are asking for your support in resisting the eviction. Please come down as early as possible on Wednesday morning to support the occupation.

We want to let Lewisham Council know that they are evicting people who have been peacefully protesting over the destruction of community education at our school.

How long are we expected to put up with this disruption to our children’s lives and their education? This upset and the chaos of the buses must end.

Julia Holmes, Chris Threlfall, Frankie Sulke and Mayor Bullock – listen to us!

Bring our children back.

Their plan for our school is privatisation! This is bringing the market into our kids’ education, where the only motivation is profit and the only measure is league tables and headcount. Competition will be the name of the game.  

Trusts and academies will compete for those children they believe to be desirable and leave those whom they don’t on the scrapheap.

We cannot let them get away with this. We can fight this together and we can win!

Join our Facebook Group and send messages of support or text them to 07946 541 331

Lobby Lewisham Council – Wednesday 20 May

Parents march through Lewisham on 9 May 2009

Parents march through Lewisham on 9 May 2009

Hands off Lewisham Bridge is calling a lobby of the Council Meeting on Wednesday 20 May to demand  a halt to the proposed demolition of the school and to stop the decant and bring back our children to Elmira Street until the planning issues have been addressed.  
Socialist Party Councillors who are supporting our campaign have put a motion to the Council.

Come and lobby councillors for their support of this motion. Meet at 6pm Cornmill Gardens if you need a lift to the Town Hall. Let us know if you need a lift or if you can provide a car.

If you wish to go straight to the Town Hall the lobby will be from 6.30pm onwards.

Town Hall, Catford.

Tel: 07946 541 331

Hands Off Lewisham Bridge!

On Thursday 23rd April we occupied the school roof of Lewisham Bridge Primary School to express our anger at the forced and unnecessary busing of our children to an alternative site while our school stands empty.

Within a few hours of starting our occupation we received widespread coverage from the BBC, the Evening Standard and London Lite as well as messages of support from Save our Schools Glasgow, Visteon workers, Prisne workers in Dundee and various NUT branch secretaries from around the country, to name but a few.

Hands off Lewisham Bridge needs the support of all parents and anyone else who wants to fight to save our school. If you want to get involved come to our public meeting this afternoon:

Lewisham Bridge School
Elmira Street
Cornmill Gardens SE13
3.00pm Friday 24th April

From that meeting we will march to Lewisham Town Hall to demand the re-opening of our school.

Lewisham Bridge parents occupy school in bid to get school reopened

Early this morning, parents of children who attend Lewisham Bridge Primary School bravely occupied the roof of the school in protest at Lewisham Council’s reprehensible decision to bus all the pupils and teachers 3 miles each day to another site. For decades, Lewisham Bridge Primary School (a grade II listed building) has been at the heart of the community… There is a facebook group called Hands Off Lewisham Bridge Primary School (you will need to be logged into facebook to see this). Join the group, or check back here, for pictures and updates.

If you are in the Lewisham area, please come down and show your support for the parents’ struggle. If you can’t make it, please spread the word. Send details of the protest to any email lists you can.

Here is a an article from the Evening Standard’s ThisIsLondon website.
There was also coverage from the BBC.

Here is a link to the Twitter account for the protest at Lewisham Bridge School

Lewisham Bridge Primary School Gets Grade II listing

Press Release 16.04.09

Defend Education in Lewisham’s response to the Grade II listing awarded to Lewisham Bridge Primary School

Defend Education in Lewisham demand that Lewisham Council reverse its decision to decant the children and staff of Lewisham Bridge Primary School on 23rd April following English Heritage’s welcome decision to grant a Grade II listing to the existing building. It is now clear that Lewisham Council will not receive planning permission for their proposed new school scheme.

English Heritage Report

The following are extracts of the full report which highlight some of the reasons for the listing.

“The school’s design also shows how wider educational reforms and new ideas about sanitation had percolated down to the School’s Division of the LCC.”

“Lewisham Bridge was still one of the first London schools with ‘single-banking’, where classrooms open off a corridor on one side only thus enabling cross-ventilation to the classrooms.”

“Historically it was one of the first attempts by the LCC to adapt the design of board schools to improve lighting and cross-ventilation encouraged by the Board of Education at the time.”

“Lewisham Bridge School is a vital link between the Victorian board schools and the more child-centred learning environments of the inter-and post-war years.”

“Lewisham Bridge School is an exemplar of the previous decade’s response to the same aspiration: to teach children in light clean well-ventilated surroundings. These principles are manifest in myriad elements of the school’s design. From the abundance of tiles providing easily-cleaned surfaces, to individual ventilation grilles in each classroom, to a clerestory providing extra light in the upper storey classrooms, the attention to detail at Lewisham Bridge School is noteworthy.”

Source: EH Adviser’s Report no

Objections to the Plans

We have consistently pointed out to Lewisham that it is entirely misconceived to turn the children and staff out of the school when they do not have planning permission. Their failure to receive such permission was always likely yet Chris Threlfall, Head of School Effectiveness at Lewisham, refused to contemplate such an outcome, even though a series of major obstacles stood in the way of the council implementing their plan.

1. English Heritage were always likely to list Lewisham Bridge an outstanding example of Victorian architecture and philanthropy.

2.) Environment Agency requires surveys and risk management assessments regarding contamination and possible groundwater flooding.

3.) Thames Water requires assurances for and plans regarding the water infrastructure for a school of this size.

4.) A full bat survey is needed.

5.) Cabe the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space has condemned the plans as ‘not yet good enough’ and the site is so cramped that a series of government guidelines on educational and play provision are flouted.

To decant children before planning permission and all the other requirements has been fulfilled will needlessly jeopardise the children’s chances in the SATS and banding tests in May.

It will cause much unnecessary stress to children, some as young as 3 years old, as they are made to spend over half an hour of their day being transported to and from the temporary site at the Mornington Centre in New Cross over 1.5 miles away from the school.


Chris Threlfall, Frankie Sulke (Director of Children and Young People’s Services), Robert Massey (Lewisham Councillor & Cabinet member with responsibility for Children and Young People, which covers schools, the youth service and care services for children.) and Steve Bullock, Lewisham Mayor have persistently ignored the objections from parents, staff and local residents in their determination to carry out their privatisation plans for Lewisham Bridge Primary School.

  • Over 100 people at a public meeting 2 years ago to discuss the original proposal rejected it unanimously.
  • Over 120 parents signed a petition to demand that the Mayor revoke his decision to give away Lewisham Bridge (its land and assets) to Leathersellers Company.
  • Over 50 parents signed a petition to reverse the decant

Defend Education in Lewisham have always argued that this plan for a 3-16 school no this site will not work because it is too small.

We have always argued that this is in fact privatising our kids’ education and handing over our assets to a private unaccountable body. As the English Heritage report points out this school was established with child-centred learning in mind. Lewisham’s proposal stands in stark contrast to that as it ignores the needs of inner-city children in the interest of private finance and profit.


Defend Education in Lewisham demand that Sir Steve Bullock and Lewisham Council:

  • Immediately reverse the decision to decant the school on 23rd April.
  • Revoke the decision to hand over the building and assets to Leathersellers Company (a private unaccountable body) and to return to the ethos of providing a child-centred learning environment for the local children who are brought up in an urban inner-city area.
  • Revoke the decision to reduce the school to a one-form entry with a view to establishing a 3-16 school on the site. The site is not suitable for such a school and the council should go back to alternative sites for the much-needed secondary school in the North of the Borough (Lewisham Bridge is not in the North of the borough).
  • To address the growing problem of a shortage of primary places re-introduce the 2 form entry.
  • Investigate the handling of this matter by Council officers, principally Chris Threlfall, who has wilfully ignored the facts and pursued a plan to the detriment of local people, the Lewisham Bridge school community, staff, parents and children.



Register your objection to the planning application for the New School at Lewisham Bridge

The planning application is now available to the General Public for comments and objections. We think that the plans reveal how little Lewisham Council think of our kids. 


The play space is inadequate for all ages!

It is not clear how facilities such as the ICT suite and the music room can be shared amongst so many children of differing age groups!

The provision of well-being for children os of poor standard.


You can use the text below to form your objection letter. 

Send your objection letter to:

Emma Talbot

Lewisham Planning Service

Laurence House

A Catford Road

London SE6 4SW

The ref. no. you must quote is: DC/09/70671


1.     The scheme fails to address Lewisham’s need for school places.

·       There is an overall loss of primary school places, when the plans for the immediate area envisage an increase in children of primary school age. Lewisham Council should not therefore be reducing places without a plan of where children who do not get a place there are to go.

·       It is assumed that all children attending the school will live within 1km radius of the site (Design and Access Statement p.29). However, there is no assessment provided to demonstrate that this is in fact the case, nor that local children would choose the new school, nor that the new trust running the school would operate such a selection policy. The current shortfall in secondary places for 11 year olds is 232 for 2008/9. Developments planned for the immediate area will have a ‘child yield’ of 95 children over 11, and there are increasing numbers to be expected from the developments in Catford and Lee High Road. The new school proposed here will provide 120 places for 11 year olds, meaning that the new school does not substantially address Lewisham’s secondary school needs, while, in the context of all the new developments planned, it creates pressure on primary places.


The Loampit Vale planning application “Heath Impact Assessment” states (5.3.10):

“Demand for local school places at both a primary and secondary school level will rise as a consequence of the proposed development. The requirements of Loampit Vale are greater than the forecast surplus of local primary school places and will increase demand for places at the secondary level. In addition, the cumulative impact of the adjacent developments will increase the demand for places in local schools further”.


2.     Provision for the health and well-being  of the children is of a poor standard

·       The phasing of the construction shows that younger children will be on site while further work is undertaken (Transport Assessment 2.4.7). There is no plan provided for the management of young children on what will effectively be a construction site for two years. No assessment has been made of the levels of noise and dust for the second stage of construction.

·       The plans do not use the data in planning applications for Loampit Vale and Lewisham Gateway to assess the impact these will have on wind, sunlight, daylight, noise and pollution. However, there is cause for concern, for instance the BREEAM report (HW1) indicates that daylighting targets for schools will not be reached in the submitted designs. The levels of pollution which could be experienced by the school are not specifically addressed in the plans. The school is in an Air Quality Management Zone and Lewisham Gateway increases some pollutants by up to 5% and the Loampit Vale development by a further 2%.

·       The BREEAM report shows that the school will meet only 10 out of the 18 credits for health and well-being, and this figure is mainly achieved on the basis of the plans providing policies. Credits missed include that for ensuring air intakes serving occupied areas avoid major sources of external pollution and recirculation of exhaust air (HW9); thermal zoning (HW15); acoustic criteria (HW17); and the provision of mains-fed drinking water dispensers (HW24).

·       The play areas are extremely cramped and will require high levels of supervision and control. For instance, the play area for KS2 has maximum dimensions of 28m by 13m that is slightly smaller than an international netball court – for 120 children. (Because there is one dining room, with seats for 168 children, it is to be assumed that the younger children will have one sitting and therefore all KS2 children will be using the space at the same time. ) The younger children have no direct access to kick around areas or the netball court and must share much coveted stage space with older children. Although the nature reserve was under-used by the current primary school, it provided greenery and had the potential to be a wonderful resource. Overall, the constrained play space compares very unfavourably with the existing primary provision.

·       Secondary school provision is also poor and no mention is made of travel to playing fields. The very fact that this issue is not addressed in the main plans is worrying.


3.     There is no proof given that 800 children can successfully share the facilities.

·       No indication is provided of how the shared use of facilities such as play areas, sports and dining areas can actually work once the school is fully operational, given the range of ages involved and the cramped nature of the site. For instance, there is one music suite, and one sports hall (with one marked out pitch) to be shared among 27 classes (excluding nursery children). There is one ICT suite (combined with a Learning Resources Centre) for the whole school, while the current primary school already has such a suite just for the primary school. The play areas are cramped and close to each other.


·       It appears essential that the planners submit a proposed timetable for the use of the shared resources so that the planning committee, the parents and teachers at the current school and the general public can be persuaded that the plan would work in practice.


4.     The Transport Assessment submitted for the application is incomplete.

·       While it is assumed that children will live within 1km of the site, there is no concrete assessment of the likely catchment area of the secondary school (see section 1 above). There is no assessment of the impact on transport of local people who cannot get into the primary/nursery school and must therefore travel more.  Until these assessments are done the Transport Assessment is a work of fiction and wishful thinking.

·       The one assessment that is made, of the impact of extra traffic along Elmira and turning onto Loampit Vale (Transport Assessment 7.1) is inaccurate in its layout and fails to look also at the impact of these cars on the proposed new key junctions at Jerrard Street and Thurston Road.

·       The other plans for the area will put a huge strain on public transport, but none of the models for these plans (Lewisham Gateway, Loampit Vale, Thurston Road) included an additional 600 secondary school children travelling on the buses, trains, cycling and walking. (Even walking could be a problem because some of the key pavements around the Gateway are already described as being so crowded as to be ‘uncomfortable’.)

·       The extra provision of cycling spaces is to be welcomed, but the maps for cycle routes in the area are out of date because they are not based on the plans submitted for the Gateway and Loampit Vale developments. The existing plans for the new Lewisham Gateway provide no cycle paths round a very large, complex and busy roundabout – the Low-H system. The absence of provision for cyclists in the Gateway has been questioned by many local groups: to expect children to negotiate such a crossing is unrealistic.

·       The maps for bus stops is also out of date because the Gateway will replace the current stop near the school on Loampit Vale.

·       No account has been taken of the increased traffic and congestion as a result of coaches taking children to the playing fields. (The adequacy of playing fields is not addressed at all, the site of playing fields is not mentioned.)  It is most unlikely that coach parking can be provided on Loampit Vale because the Lewisham Gateway plans will remove the bus stop on the south side by the bridge and to insert a coach stop could have destabilizing effects on traffic flows around the Low H. The Transport Assessment contains the curious, and unsubstantiated assertion that:

“provision has been made within the proposed Prendergast Vale School development to ensure that there is sufficient space within the school grounds for turning coaches entering via Elmira Street”. The only possible space would mean many coaches presumably going past the nursery and science garden areas.

·       These considerations give rise to the strong possibility that coaches will be regularly using the local streets (Ellerdale, Algernon) or turning round in Elmira. Models for this should all be fed into the Transport Assessment for it to be complete and a serious piece of work.


5.      Loss of architectural heritage

         The plans involve the demolition of one of the few remaining historical buildings in the area       and no consideration has been given to incorporating our heritage into the new design. The       application itself notes that the existing school building contributes positively to the urban       landscape, particularly where it defines the western edge of Cornmill Gardens” Many       organisations propose that the retention of old schools has many positive educational       benefits, including the very generous space provisions which modern regulations ignore.


6.     Loss of trees, habitat and the nature reserve

The plans involve the loss of trees and a nature reserve, as well as possible loss of bat habitat. The science garden is in a very curious place: the plans for the Loampit Vale development would indicate that the area would be very shaded.


7.     Value for money

There are no costings provided for the scheme. Further along Loampit Vale is a very well-equipped FE College with plans to move to a site in Deptford. Would it not make more sense to convert that to a secondary school – with capacity to really provide for the secondary needs of Lewisham, and keep Lewisham Bridge. It has become a successful school and has very pleasant facilities – including an IT suite, nature reserve  and large, well-equipped playground. Lewisham Council should have costed this alternative which would be much less disruptive for existing children at Lewisham Bridge and really address Lewisham’s future needs.