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:

PUBLIC MEETING
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.

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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.

Privatisation

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.

Demands

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.