Parents oppose the closure of Charlotte Turner School on Lewisham/Greenwich Borders

Greenwich Council is to consult on closing Charlotte Turner Primary School. The school is on the borders of Lewisham and in fact c.75% of pupils live in Lewisham.

Lewisham’s recent Primary Places Review has already indicated a shortfall of places for the Lewisham/Brockley area. This will be further exacerbated if Greenwich get their way and close this school.

An Ofsted report in November noted “half of the pupils have been identified as having some kind of learning difficulty and/or disability”.

It is clear once again that what is needed is more resources for schools rather than closing them down or reducing them in size (as is the case with Lewisham Bridge Primary School). These Labour councils claim that they care about our children’s educational needs whilst at the same time closing our schools down, or selling them off to private companies.

These are our community assets and we must fight to keep them.

Parents at Charlotte Turner have already started a campaign to save their school with the support from Greenwich Unison, parents plan to lobby a council meeting on January 28 and organise a protest march. This is an excellent start to the campaign to save Charlotte Turner. Parents must link with teachers, and other workers in their school to show Greenwich Council that they are not prepared to allow them to close this school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HANDS OFF OUR SCHOOL!

SAVE LEWISHAM BRIDGE PRIMARY SCHOOL!

DECANT? NO THANKS!

 This summer the Mayor gave his approval for the new school to be owned and run by Leathersellers under the executive management of the Head of Prendergast School.

This is after a series of sham consultations where parents have consistently said no to the privatisation plans.

Over 100 parents have signed a petition against the plans, which was handed in to the Council and Mayor, and still we have been ignored.

 It is clear that the Mayor and his council cronies are not interested in listening to what parents really have to say. We will not allow our children’s education to be disrupted by a plan that does not have our community’s interests at heart.

 Now we say enough is enough! It is time for direct action.

 We need to resist the decant.

There is currently a legal challenge by the National Union of Teachers to their plans to create a 3-16 school on this site. The Law doesn’t allow for such schools and therefore the Mayor’s plans are illegal. We must show that Council that we will not be shoved around at their whim.

We believe that we can defeat the council over this. The successful Ladywell Pool campaign showed that the Mayor does not always get his own way!

Defend Education in Lewisham has been consistent in our protests over this plan and we think that we must continue to fight. If you want to get involved in the campaign please contact:

  • Eleanor (parent at Lewisham Bridge) – 07946 541 331 or ecd1@btinternet.com
  • Dave (parent at Lewisham Bridge) – daveheeps@lcts.fsnet.co.uk

PUBLIC SERVICES, NOT PRIVATE PROFIT

CAMPAIGN PLANNING MEETING on
MONDAY, OCTOBER 6th 2008, 7.30 pm in the upstairs room
GOOSE on the GREEN PUB, RUSHEY GREEN, CATFORD
 
 

Across the borough and beyond, campaigners and trade unionists are having to confront continuing attacks on both our public services and on our living standards.  In Lewisham:

  • The Council is determined to break-up local Authority schooling with Academies and Trusts
  •  Health services face cuts and privatisation through “A Picture of Health”.
  •  Local Authority housing is being given over to ALMOs and Housing Associations.

 

Meanwhile, while billions are found to bailout the banks, workers are being told that they have to put up with year-after-year of below-inflation pay awards.

But trade unions and communities are beginning to say ‘enough is enough’. The NUT is balloting its members for national strike action to oppose pay cuts. Housing and health campaigners have been organising to defend our services. The Defend Education in Lewisham Campaign is challenging the Council’s damaging proposals.

 

That’s why the NUT, together with Defend Education, have agreed to hold a public meeting later this year to explain what is at stake and how we can fight the attacks. From this initiative, we hope to build a united campaign to defend our services.

 

Lewisham Bridge – NUT issue a legal challenge to the council

This is a summary of the press release issued by Lewisham NUT 25th September 2008

Warnings ignored – legal challenge served

Last month Lewisham Council’s Mayor and Cabinet chose to proceed with their decision to create a new “all-age” school on the present site of Lewisham Bridge Primary School.

 But this decision was made despite repeated reminders from the NUT – both locally and nationally – that it believed that the decision would be in breach of section 14(6) of the Education Act 1996. Regrettably the Council chose to ignore our warnings. As a result, the NUT has been forced to issue our leagal challenge.

  ‘Securing primary and secondary education in separate schools’

The challenge points to the statutory need contained in the 1996 Act for Local Authorities to secure that “primary and secondary education are provided in separate schools”. In other words, children beneath the age of 12 should be taught in separate schools to older pupils. As the law stands, this means that Lewisham’s decision to build an ‘all-age’ school for children aged 3-16 is open to challenge.

Are ‘all-age’ schools the way forward?  Real debate needed

This legal requirement, restricting the creation of schools which are not solely primary or secondary schools, is nothing new. It was first introduced in the Education Act 1944 and has never since been repealed. But this isn’t just a legal nicety. The legislation reflects a long-standing view that different approaches need to be taken to teaching children of different ages. Any change to this approach needs careful debate – but that just hasn’t happened.

In contrast, when some Authorities wanted to try a different approach and introduce ‘middle schools’ in the 1960s, the educational debate led to the law being amended to allow the change. If ‘all-age’ 3-16 schools are the way forward then a full debate is needed first – any law change can then follow.

Lewisham Council ignores parental concerns

In keeping with their approach over other controversial educational initiatives – such as the handing over of Monson School to Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College Academy and the reorganisation of special needs  – Lewisham Council has again chosen to brush aside the well-founded concerns of parents and staff rather than engage in genuine debate.

Council officers have reasserted the benefits they hope all-age schooling can provide in linking primary and secondary practice together. However, they have completely failed to take seriously any other points of view.

Lewisham NUT has consistently asked for further research into both the potential advantages and disadvantages of this form of school organisation in general – and whether it can work on this particular site.

Teachers and pupils have questioned whether primary practice could suffer in a secondary-dominated federation. The effect on admissions across the borough at both primary and secondary age has never been explained. Parents have raised concerns about the health and safety of younger pupils, and the need for sufficient separate play space for different ages, particularly when the plans for the new building have never been properly discussed with them.

Another sorry chapter in Lewisham’s handling of the demand for a new school

This legal challenge is just the latest chapter in the Council’s mishandling of parents’ demands for a new secondary school to meet the shortfall of places in the north of the borough. 

Lewisham Bridge School was originally rejected as a possible site. After alternative plans to build on Ladywell Leisure Centre were abandoned, the Council resurrected the idea of using the Elmira Street site, this time for an all-age school to be established by the Leathersellers’ Company – rather than the community school that was originally planned.

Unfortunately, the NUT suspects that this approach is driven largely by an ideological agenda to hand over more Local Authority schools into the hands of Trusts and Academies.

Of course, the central Lewisham site is still a long way from the north of the borough. Further, in trying to address the issue of secondary places, the plan reduces the provision of primary places in the area – just when the new building work around Elmira Street   further increases primary demand. The danger is that, this time at a primary age, the Council are again blundering over the provision of school places.

Listen to parents and staff

“The Council have nobody else but themselves to blame for this legal challenge.

We hope that, this time, the Mayor will recognise that he needs to listen to parents, staff and their trade unions, instead of just imposing initiatives that have not been properly thought through.

Lewisham Council needs to step back and urgently open a genuine discussion about what is the right way forward for primary and secondary education”.

Martin Powell-Davies, Secretary, Lewisham NUT

M: 07946 445488   Office: 020 8314 7487

Campaign Meeting

The next campaign meeting is on

Tuesday 23rd September

7.30pm

Upstairs at The Goose on The Green (opp. The Broadway Theatre, Catford)

All welcome!

Fight to stop Leathersellers is not over!

As you may have seen, in the summer the Mayor decided to approve the takeover of Lewisham Bridge Primary School by Leathersllers.

He did this in spite of the fact that over 100 parents expressed their concern over the proposal by signing a petition which stated that, above all else parents’ views have not been taken into account.

I saw the Mayor at the Country Fayre on Sunday and I told him that there is a significant number of parents who feel as though our views are being ignored. We have had at least 3 consultations several public meetings, focus groups etc where parents have expressed their concerns for the plan. Each time we are ignored and the plan moves one step further to completion.

I was told that I have mis-represented the issue that this is not privatisation, the new school won’t be a private school. Excuse me Mr Mayor, but I know what a private school is and I’m well aware that this is not a proposal to turn the school into a fee-paying school. But giving away a public asset to a private company used to be called privatisation – maybe they have a new word for it in New Labour. We have several examples of privatisation: Group 4 put in charge of prisons, but kept losing their prisoners! The tragedy of the rail accidents caused by the incompetence of the rail companies. Extortionate charges from energy companies!

I asked the Mayor if he would attend a meeting of parents and teachers at the school where we can air our feelings and get a chance to hear his opinions on the matter. I think we should now put pressure on him to do just that.

Parents have real concerns which it is his duty, as Mayor to address:

1.) Leathersellers is an unaccountable body. They control the governing body. What recourse do parents have if we don’t agree with their strategy for the running of the school?

2.) Why are the land and buildings being given away to Leathersellers?

3.) How has the plans for new school affected recruitment for the current academic year?

4.) The site doesn’t seem to be big enough for such a school. Indeed the Secretary of State is being asked to waive the necessity of providing playing fields on the site because there is no room for them.

5.) There is a plan to decant the school to the Mornington Centre in New Cross. How will that work exactly? How will children and staff be transported there? How will affect the start and end times for the day? How will it affect the many excellent after-school clubs (football, rugby etc.)? How will it affect the after-school club and Breakfast Club? How will nursery children be transported to and from school?

It’s really important that we don’t give up – we are not figures on a page to be moved about by the Education officers at Laurence House. We are real people, this is our children’s future, all of our children!

Eleanor Davies (parent at Lewisham Bridge)

HANDS OFF LEWISHAM BRIDGE PRIMARY SCHOOL! Send in your letters of protest before July 16th.

As you may have noticed on the gates, Leathersellers have finally put up their proposal to knock down Lewisham Bridge Primary School and replace it with a new all-age 3-16 school. It will be a Foundation School.

This is bad news for children and staff! We only have until July 16th to tell the council to think again!

Who are Leathersellers?

Leathersellers are a company based in the City. They are unaccountable to the staff, parents and children, which means that we cannot call them to account over how they decide to run our children’s education.

What is a Foundation School?

It is not like a community school run by the Local Authority. Governors have the right to decide admissions, they are the direct employer of staff, they own the land and the buildings.

How does this affect me, my child or my job?

Admissions:

Leathersllers say that they will be part of Lewisham’s admissions policy – based on bands 1A to 3 – but can we trust they will keep to their word?

They have already decided that they don’t want the Travellers Education Service at the new school. They don’t want a Special Needs Unit at the new school. They are more used to teaching high-achievers. What wil happen to children who don’t fit into that category?

They have promised parents in the north of the borough that the school is for them while they also promise that “the pupils of the school will live within walking distance of the school”. So who excatly is the new school for?

Employment:

If you’re a member of staff, your employer will no longer be the Local Authority but the Federation Governing Body. This will undermine collective trade unionism.

Governance:

Currently Lewisham Bridge Primary School has FOUR parent governors elected by the parents at the school. The new school will just have ONE. How much notice will Leathersllers really take of parents; views? They’ve already decided on the name of the school without consulting us.

Public Assets:

Leathersellers will own the land – we won’t get that back! They don’t even have to pay for the new school! Why aren’t Lewisham Council building and running the school themselves? Why are they giving away our assets?

Ignoring parents concerns

Most parents responding to the Leathersellers’ first consultation were AGAINST their plan. They still haven’t provided answers to many other objections that were raised:

  • Why can’t the school remain as a community school?
  • Where is the evidence that the all-age design will provide a safe and successful school?
  • Where are the site plans proving that the site is big enough for both play and study?
  • What will happen to all the staff who have been teaching our kids?
  • Federations, Trusts, academies – all new words for privatisation!
  • The proposal that Leathesellers run the new school at Lewisham Bridge is part of Lewisham Council’s plans to privatise education in Lewisham.
  • Why should Lewisham be dominated by Haberdashers, Leathersellers and Goldsmiths?

DEFEND EDUCATION SAY:

START LISTENING TO PARENTS

DON’T GIVE AWAY OUR SCHOOL

REJECT THE LEATHERSELLERS PROPOSAL

KEEP THE NEW SCHOOL AS A LOCAL AUTHORITY COMMUNITY SCHOOL

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

If you don’t want our school to be given away to an unaccountable firm, send you letter of protest to

Chris Threlfall

Head of Educational Development

Children and Young People’s Directorate

London Borough of Lewisham

3rd Floor

Laurence House

London

SE6 4RU