Lewisham Bridge

lblogo.jpg

Lewisham Bridge is a two form entry primary school. The Council plan to build a 3-16 year school incorporating a one form entry primary school with a new four form secondary school. Despite initial assurances that the school would be a local authority community school, Mayor Bullock has agreed that the school go to ‘competition’ to the highest bidder.

Leathersellers (via Prendergast School) have been given exemption from competition and have put in their bid to run the new school at Lewisham Bridge. Despite the fact that the consultation for the new school has not started the Council have already agreed that from September 2008, there will be a one form entry for parents seeking to send their children to a local school.

This is privatisation by another name.

Why is this bad news for Lewisham Bridge? 

Employment – If they are reducing the number of classes at the school, this could mean redundancies. Staff will be employed directly by Leathersellers and therefore may not be part of current national pay structures and conditions of service.

  • Governance – No accountability – Leathersellers will appoint governors with only token parent and staff representation.
  • Admissions – the sponsors can decide their own admissions. In order to get better results which children do you think they will want at their school? Local Authority schools have a statutory duty to admit children with special educational needs (SEN). Prendergast School currently has one of the lowest percentage of children with these needs.
  • Curriculum – the sponsors have enormous freedom over the curriculum – this could mean the end of a comprehensive curriculum where students have a broad choice of subjects rather than a limited diet of courses dictated by the needs of big business.

 If the spread of Trusts and Academies continues, we will witness the break-up of local authority schooling in Lewisham. 

Don’t give away our school!

Lewisham Bridge is a well-run school with happy successful children – allow the staff, parents and pupils to build on that and keep the school under the control of the local authority.

Leathersellers

Leathersellers Livery Company (Trustees of Prendergast and Colfes) has been granted exemption from the competition requirements.  They have the backing of the Secretary of State for Education: “[The Secretary of State] was encouraged that the Leathersellers Livery Company indicated they would consider other options for strengthening links with Lewisham schools in the future …. [He] was satisfied that the Leathersellers have a proven track record in Lewisham which suggests that their support for both Crofton and the new school would be a positive measure” Source: CYP Report to Mayor & Cabinet 11th July 2007 

Socialist Party councillors, Chris Flood and Ian Page submitted a motion that called on Councillors to keep the new school under local authority control. Instead the council chamber, by a narrow majority, agreed to hand over our assets and the future of our children’s education to an unaccountable business. The Council has been boasting that it was recently awarded the status of a four star authority which gives it the right to build new schools without seeking exemption from competition.
Will they now stand up and agree to run the new school or do they have no confidence in their ability to provide high quality education for the children of Lewisham?

It doesn’t have to be this way…

Aske’s hoped to win a bid in a competition forced on Haringey Council but lost – the Council put in its own bid and won the competition.  Sir Steve Bullock received his knighthood for “services to local government” – instead of handing over local government services let’s call on him to stand up and keep Lewisham Bridge a local community school. 

BSF programme
Lewisham badly needs a new school. The government is forging ahead with its ruthless programme to privatise schools: The Government has made it clear that it wants all new schools to open as self-governing schools. Indeed there is an implied threat that Lewisham will only receive funding for a new school if it agrees to move forward with the Government’s Programme.

VT Group, a ship building company, have been awarded the BSF contract in Lewisham. The BSF programme in Lewisham will have a contract value expected to be more than £400m. Over the next 25 years including the initial capital expenditure of £210 million on school refurbishment and rebuilding. VT’s share of the overall contract is 50%. This means that they will make millions out of education and have a 50% stake in the running of our schools.

Parents and teachers at Lewisham Bridge demand:

  • No to sham consultations.
  • A new school but not at the expense of Lewisham Bridge.
  • Childrens’s needs before council budgets.
  • No cuts, no closures, no compulsory redundancies. 
  • Make every school a great school!
  • Stop privatisation – keep our schools under public ownership.Keep schools under the control of the local authority, accountable to parents, teachers and children.

3 Responses to “Lewisham Bridge”

  1. defendeducation Says:

    Prendagast aim to expand their control over Lewisham schools by taking over the governance of Crofton School and the new school on Lewisham Bridge. Below is the Lewisham NUT response to the proposed Crofton/ Prendergast Federation.

    1. Do you think that the schools can work together for the benefit of their stakeholders?

    Schools should work together across the Authority for the benefit of the whole community of local families, parents and their children. Unfortunately, a ‘hard federation’ of three schools (including the ‘new school’), quite possibly moving towards a separate ‘trust’ status, will work for the benefit of the three schools in the federation, but not always to the benefit of the community as a whole.

    Therefore, taking ‘stakeholders’ as being the whole local community, Lewisham NUT believes that there are more risks than clear benefits from the proposed federation.

    2. List any specific benefits to stakeholders from Federation:

    Clearly the Local Authority hopes that the federation and the rebranding of Crofton School as part of a “Prendergast Federation” can attract more families to apply to Crofton than at present. Of course, that could have an inevitable knock-on effect on the admissions for other local secondary schools.

    If the federation moves to Trust Status, as discussed in the consultation document, the Governors will also have the advantage of owning the assets, including the new buildings, presently owned by the Council.

    Lewisham NUT wishes to see a clear commitment from the governors that they will not move towards ‘trust status’ and that Crofton will remain a community school.

    3. Do you see any disadvantages for stakeholders?

    There could be significant disadvantages for other secondary schools if their intake suffers as a consequence of changes of intake to the existing Crofton School. If all Lewisham schools were part of the common banding arrangements then the changes would be within the limits set by the banding system. However, the consultation paper is strangely silent on admissions.

    Lewisham NUT is seeking a clear commitment from the governors of the Federation that all schools will fully take part in the common banding arrangements across Lewisham schools.

    Crossways federation could also be disadvantaged by the proposed change. Lewisham NUT believes that the future of the Crossways Federation should be clearly discussed and consulted on as part of these proposals.

    Above all, the present staff at Crofton School could be losers as a result of the federation if, has been suggested to us, an attempt is made to hurriedly restructure in order to remove the existing budget deficit by September 2008. The consultation paper, however, makes no mention of this significant issue which could severely impact on staff morale and jobs.

    In addition, Lewisham NUT is concerned that other posts could be threatened by both the withdrawal from the Crossways Federation and possible mismatches between the existing and future staff structures.

    Lewisham NUT is seeking a clear commitment that there will be no compulsory redundancies of staff. Without this commitment, we will consider industrial action to defend NUT members.

    4. Do you have any concerns that a specific group of stakeholders would be disadvantaged?

    As discussed above, there could be significant disadvantages for other secondary schools, the Crossways federation and Crofton staff who may be threatened with job losses. If the federation moves to ‘trust status’ there are threats to the Local Authority as a whole, and its common admissions procedures, as more educational provision is removed from Local Authority control.

    5. Are you content with a progression route from Key Stage 4 to Key Stage 5?

    Crofton NUT members have raised concerns that the federation will not be able to provide the breadth of subjects offered by the Crossways federation.

    6. Are you content with the concept of a joint SEN strategy across the Federation?

    There can be advantages in schools sharing SEN expertise but the key requirement is to provide sufficient resources to meet needs.

    What is less clear is whether the Federation is prepared to take part in a joint SEN strategy across the Authority as a whole. Lewisham NUT understands that Prendergast governors have not fully committed to having the proposed ‘resource base’ at the ‘New Secondary School’ as listed in recent SEN consultation papers.

    In order to clarify the numbers consulted on during the development of the Council’s SEN strategy, it should be made clear as to whether this ‘resource base’ will be developed.

    7. Do you have any other comments on the Federation proposals?

    There are a number of other significant issues that Lewisham NUT wishes to raise:

    a) The consultation paper suggests that staff in future could be asked to work across different schools in the federation, with new staff having a ‘mobility clause’ in their contract. Lewisham NUT believes that any such deployment across schools and/or to a different school should be my mutual agreement and not imposed be the federation.
    b) The proposed 15-strong governing body only contains two staff governors. This would mean that it would not be possible to include both a teaching and support staff governor from each school, and certainly not if the third secondary school was added to the federation. Lewisham NUT believes that further discussion is needed on the make-up of the governing body.
    c) The management diagram on page 4 clearly suggests that the Head of Crofton would report to the Head of Prendergast. In discussion, we understand that the schools would actually have two Heads of equal status reporting to an Executive Head. The consultation has not, however, put this forward. This error in the consultation needs addressing.
    d)This consultation cannot be seen in isolation from the consultation over the proposal to open a new school in Elmira Street for which Lewisham NUT will provide a separate response.

    Yours sincerely,

    Martin Powell-Davies, Secretary, Lewisham NUT.

  2. defendeducation Says:

    Response to the proposal to open a new 3-16 Foundation school at Elmira St.

    NAME: Martin Powell-Davies
    Address: NUT Office, Town Hall, Catford, SE6 4RU
    Replying as a trade union representative on behalf of Lewisham NUT

    1) Lewisham NUT opposes the creation of a foundation school
    Lewisham NUT’s response needs to be read in conjunction with our response to the parallel consultation over the federation of Crofton and Prendergast schools. As stated in our response to the other consultation paper, Lewisham NUT believes that:

    · Schools should work together across the Authority for the benefit of the whole community of local families, parents and their children. Unfortunately, a ‘hard federation’ of three schools (including the ‘new school’), quite possibly moving towards a separate ‘trust’ status, will work for the benefit of the three schools in the federation, but not always to the benefit of the community as a whole.

    · If the federation moves to ‘trust status,’ there are threats to the Local Authority as a whole, and its common admissions procedures, as more educational provision is removed from Local Authority control. Lewisham NUT wishes to see a clear commitment from the governors that they will not move towards ‘trust status’.

    · We welcome the fact that the document (under paragraph 6.3) confirms that the area wide banding arrangements will apply to the new school, Unfortunately (as stated in para 4.5), “foundation schools [can] decide on their own admission arrangements” and we therefore wish to be clear that this is a permanent commitment applying to the new school and, indeed, to all three schools within the Federation.

    · As a foundation School, the Governors will also have the advantage of owning the assets, including the new buildings, presently owned by the Council. We are opposed to the withdrawal of assets from Local Authority ownership both in this case and, regrettably, in other initiatives presently being taken by the Council.

    As we have stated consistently, the best guarantee against growing divisions between schools and a break-up of democratic Local Authority control of local education is for the school to be a community school.

    We therefore oppose the proposal for the school to be set up as a foundation school by the Leathersellers’ Company and believe the Council should itself launch the new school as was previously understood in earlier consultations and discussions around the need for a new secondary school.

    2) Lewisham NUT believes that there is insufficient evidence that a 3-16 school can be successfully operated on the Elmira Street site.
    There has been a long history of discussion over the best place to put a new secondary school in which, as is well known, other sites were considered before that of the existing Lewisham Bridge school.

    Lewisham NUT do not believe that adequate consultation can occur without, at the very least, the publishing of a feasibility study demonstrating how the chosen site can, in fact, provide:
    · Sufficient space for separate play areas for different age pupils
    · Secure teaching and learning areas for the youngest pupils in particular
    · Room for decant arrangements while building works are carried out, also bearing in mind the other building work being carried out in the vicinity.

    The NUT also believes that the advantages of ‘all-through’ schools are not sufficiently clear. As paragraph 8.10 states, such schools are “still uncommon in the maintained sector”. We believe that more educational research needs to be provided looking at both potential advantages and disadvantages of this form of school organisation.

    In addition, Lewisham NUT also believes that the proposer, and the Local Authority, also has a responsibility to show that the proposal will satisfy the need for sufficient primary places in the surrounding area. Paragraph 2.4 discusses the shortfall in secondary places but, regrettably, is silent over the issue of primary places.

    The recent paper on the Primary Places Review indicates a projected shortfall in primary places for the Brockley / Lewisham area. Certainly, the new build in the immediate area surrounding Lewisham Bridge is potentially already creating additional pressures that will mean that the Authority’s decision to reduce the existing primary school to one form of entry needs to be reconsidered. This proposal, in seeking to create a school with one form of entry per year group up to Year 6, must show that this will not have a damaging effect on future planning for primary places in the vicinity.

    In summary, since the proposal:
    a) provides no evidence for the feasibility of an all-through school on the site,
    b) is short on research demonstrating the clear benefits of an all-through school,
    c) fails to consider the effect on primary school places,
    Lewisham NUT believes that this is an inadequate consultation paper on which to safely make a decision to proceed with a 3-16 school on the Lewisham Bridge site.

    3) Lewisham NUT believes that governance arrangements must be clear and that the job security of existing staff must be guaranteed.
    As stated in our response to the other consultation paper, Lewisham NUT also wishes to point out that:

    · The proposed 15-strong governing body only contains two staff governors. This would mean that it would not be possible to include both a teaching and support staff governor from each school, and certainly not if the third secondary school was added to the federation. Lewisham NUT believes that further discussion is needed on the make-up of the governing body.

    · Lewisham NUT is seeking a clear commitment that there will be no compulsory redundancies of staff. We believe that existing staff should transfer across to the new school under TUPE. Without this commitment, a dangerous period of instability could arise before the new school opens in 2010 where existing Lewisham Bridge staff leave the school and classes are taught by temporary or supply staff. The NUT might also have to consider industrial action to defend jobs.

    Yours sincerely,

    Martin Powell-Davies, Secretary, Lewisham NUT.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    this plan is stupid this school is good just the way it is!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: