Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New School: Mayor does welcome U-turn

I've just got back from tonight's Mayor and Cabinet meeting where the Mayor took the decision to back down from building a new secondary school on the site of Ladywell Leisure Centre and opted instead for Lewisham Bridge Primary School as the new preferred site. This was following the motion proposed by Greens in July and supported by full council, which asked the Mayor to look again at alternative sites. It was a brave decision for the Mayor to make, and I welcome the fact that he has at last listened to the views of local people and the majority of the council. This means that there will not now be a 3 or more year gap in swimming provision in the borough and that Ladywell Leisure centre can stay open until new facilities are built.

The decision is dependent on a number of hurdles being cleared, including the revocation of the approval given by the Schools Organisation Committee to build a new school on the Ladywell Leisure Centre site. There will also now be a full consultation on the closure of Lewisham Bridge Primary school and the opening of a new school on that site. The council will also ask the Secretary of State to waive the competition requirements in order to help them meet the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) timetable. (Normally, when a school is built, there has to be a 4-month period during which interesed parties can bid to run the school. If this is waived, then we can opt straight for a community school, rather than having to open up the process to allow people bid to run it as an academy. My preference is certainly for a community school, not an academy.)

The option being suggested at the moment is a single 3-16 through school, with the primary school being reduced to one form entry rather than 2 form, and the secondary school being 4 form entry. Lewisham Bridge is officially a 2 form entry school at the moment, although it has on average 20 spare places per year, which means either very large classes, or small but expensive class sizes. With a through school, parents would have the choice of their children staying on at the school at 11, or applying to other secondary schools. A 3-16 school is fairly unusual in the state sector, but common and successful in the independent sector. I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to find out more about the pros and cons of through schools versus separate primary and secondary schools, although Frankie Sulke, the director of the Children and Young People's Directorate, made a fairly strong educational case for them at the meeting.

I recognise that many parents at Lewisham Bridge Primary School have concerns about the impact these plans will have on their children, and the existing school community. Those of us who fought so hard to save the pool now need to work towards making sure the best possible school is built at Lewisham Bridge, with the minimum disruption to the education of existing pupils at the school. Lewisham Bridge is not a perfect site, but on balance I believe it is better than Ladywell Leisure Centre. It also offers the opportunity to replace the existing primary provision on the site with more modern, fit for purpose facilities.

The full report on the school sites can be found here.

Finally, well done to Max Calo and everyone else who worked so hard on the Save Ladywell Pool Campaign! Mission accomplished?!


Max said...

Thanks to you too Sue! A great collective result.

Philip Booth said...

Great news - well done to all who campaigned on this!

richard proctor said...

Good result!

But we all need to turn our attentions to Lewisham Gateway — this is a bigger monster that will act as a gravestone for Lewisham.
Its a complicated issue, but, Sue, what about a mention on your blog?

Richard Proctor

Anonymous said...

Hi Richard
This blog entry has a brief summary of the Greens' stance on the gateway development, but I will no doubt be returning to the topic soon:

Best wishes


Anonymous said...

The Mayor and Labour Party are now claiming they saved Ladywell Pool!

Anonymous said...

yes, I got that Labour leaflet through my door this morning. To be expected really. We were also geared up with a Green News, but couldn't send it to print until after last Wednesday. It is being printed now and will be hitting peoples' doormats in the next few days! All offers of help delivering it welcome!

shukz said...

Hi Everyone,
Thanking you guys that put a great deal of effort into saving the pool,I have been a member since I was eight and now i'm well on my way to 21,So I just want to show my appriciation for all those who campaigned! It looks as though its paid of for now...fingers crossed!
Well Done!