Debate the future of Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College

Date: Friday 11th January, 5.45pm for 6.00pm start
Venue: Edmund Waller School, Waller Road

The proposal to incorporate Monson primary school (Deptford) with Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College (Telegraph Hill) has provoked controversy, with a number of local residents concerned that it could adversely affect nearby primary schools such as such as Kender and Edmund Waller and, in or on the edges of the Brockley Area, John Stainer and Myatt Gardens.

Predictably, some of the debate has been clouded by ideologically driven sound and fury as a result of HAHC's Academy status. But beneath all of that, the plans do raise some serious questions.

HAHC is a successful Academy with an annual intake of just over 200 pupils. That means places are highly prized. Protestors complain that, by guaranteeing places at HAHC for Monson pupils, closer and more successful schools would lose out. The "fairness" of that arrangement is highly emotive and, as parents of a boy who may one-day hope to attend HAHC (although at this time, the "real nappies" question is the more pressing), Brockley Central are not exactly objective commentators.

However, what is beyond doubt is that HAHC's popularity means that a high-proportion of its students already come from outside its local catchment area and this plan risks exacerbating the problem, removing it further from its local community.

In response to the debate, Cllr Robin Cross has arranged a public meeting with Mayor Steve Bullock. Cllr Cross says:

"This is a chance for you to put views directly to the Mayor, and to discuss the subject with him before any final decision is taken on whether to go ahead with the policy.

"Please let me know if you intend to come. You can reach me at cllr_robin.cross@lewisham.gov.uk or on 020 8469 8276.

"I realise this is short notice, as we have only just been given confirmation that the meeting can go ahead. However, I also realise the importance this subject has for many of you and I do hope you can join the meeting."

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think admissions should be down to the distance you live from the school. This is surely the best for the children and community.

Tamsin said...

Yes, exactly. It may lead to its own daftnesses and a distortion in the housing market but is basically much better, as you say, for the children and the community. Quite apart from the politics of the past 15 years this is why I think the current scheme of linking HAHC to Monson when there are three or four nearer schools is very badly thought through.

Hope people from Brockley can make it there tonight to show there are concerns (despite the weather and the time of the meeting that seems designed to maximise the inconvenience for those who either work or have to get young children to bed).

nicola name said...

Is it meant to be an academic school? if so, selection should be done on academic/gifted child merit. it makes no sense to give a place to a non academically orientated child who happens to live nearby when his/her needs could be much better dealt with elsewhere.

We have to recognise and accept that some children are good at sport, some are cleverer, some are artistic, some good at drama and nurture their skils accordingly. My concern is that academic ability is becoming a Bad Thing - look at the nonsense that occurs when selecting for university places dependent on background and nature of school attended. We have a supposedly adequate nationwide testing system already that employers for one have to use.

sorry - i digress!

Anonymous said...

Bloody hell Nicola, look up from your daily mail and smell the coffee. I thought the idea of school was to get an education. Not to learn to be a plumber. Children shouldn't be pigeon holed as academic or sporty at such an early age. Statistically if you go to a good school you get good results, regardles of whether you're a sporty or academic type. School admissions shoud be based on where you live in relation to the school. That way the school is part of your community, as are all the other pupils. That's how communities thrive.

nicola said...

ok, so you'd send a child living nearby but displaying no interest in music to a specialist music school?

Pete said...

I went to one of the most expensive private schools in this country and would have to say that I agree with selecting for university based at least partly on the school attended. Who is it easier for to get three As at A level, me at a top independent school where the fees were in excess of £20k p.a. or someone at an underfunded state school with terrible results generally?

Nicola said...

Mr/Ms Anonymous,

the fastest way to creat social mobility in a country is to develop the abilities of the most able, in any given sphere regardless of which geographical location he/she happens to have started off.

If you insist on so called "community schools" you get little ghettoes or one class or another (by virtue of housing proximity) developing and children from pooorer areas remain in those poorer areas.

I think our aims are the same actually - so please turn over in your mind what I'm saying....

Nicola said...

Pete,

I see what you're saying and it is obviosuly easier for us of us lucky enough to have such an educaiton to achieve better results.

but then think about this

a friend of mine was devastated and very traumatised over the nasty divorce of her parents when we were at school. her results were rubbish accordingly. Because of her school she would actually be discriminated against!

where do you draw the line?

we have an objective measure which despite its obvious failings is less bad than the alternatives.

in any event, admissions tutors at colleges can always make exceptions where appropriate - what I'm saying is that it should discrimination should NOT become the law!

Nicola said...

oh dear, I'm typing so fast, my own English look very much "C" grade. please take the meaning behind it!

we all want to give bright and talented children a chance and that means not allowing ghettoes to develop and making sure that EVERY child has an excellent education.

Pete, fyi, we spend in the UK's education budget per head in the State sector more than your 20k fees were!!

Anonymous said...

Nicola, if you tell every child in your non academic school that they're not academic then guess what? They won't be. Some kids need a little motivation. Your idea just creates a ghetto of children's aspirations.
P

Tom said...

Spending per head in the state sector is nowhere near 20k per head!!!

It's around 4k, compared to average 8k in the private sector.

See page 6, fig 2:

http://www.ifs.org.uk/bns/bn71.pdf

Pete said...

That's not actually true Nicola; annual spending per pupil in the state sector is expected to reach £6,600 by 2010.

simon said...

It shouldn't matter where you live or what your talent is all children in this country should expect to have a top class education. The local school should be good enough for every one. To acheive this is both simple and difficult. To start discrimination to entry by academic ability and faith have to be phased out. All the schools in Lewisham should be able to offer the same excellent education as anyother. This would enable better opportunities for all our children, no crazy house prices in certain areas and a more integrated society.

Pete said...

Of course you are correct Simon but at the moment they don't do they?

My personal preference for schools is academic streaming within a school with the potential to move stream at any given point in your school career. Same teachers, same facilities but without some kids being held back by their less academically gifter peers.

Nicola said...

Anonymous, hmmm.

Well equally, if you tell a child he/she is not good musically or in any other field the same applies. there is no reason academic excellence should be discouraged or become anything to be ashamed of. This weird idea that intelligence (but not other skills) is something we all should or do have equally is completely wrong. Some children are smarter than others and that's that. they should be encouraged in an academic environment, via streaming or a separate school - I don't mind which but have a preference for streaming as it allows for moving around between subjects and on a year to year basis.

We don't want a return to segregating children at an early age and consigning some to the equivalent of secondary moderns I agree.

The figures I've read were predicated on >20k UK national spend per head. The idea behind the whole series of articles was that parents should be able to take "their" 20k and apply it to independent school fees if they wanted to. or indeed their local school if preferred. makes sense to me.

and of course all faith schools (but please note of ALL persuasions) should go - for both reasons of discrimination AND because, in an era of unprecedented global racial tension, the absolutely most bonkers thing we could ever do is segregate children.

Pete said...

Well like I said UK national education spending is no where near £20k per head.

I don't know where you get the idea that anyone thinks being academic is frowned on from. You just can't tell definitively at the age of 11 who is gifted and who is not. Especially when children are from different primary schools.

To lump all of the kids who are labelled as thickos in one school is complete madness. What do you suppose they will aspire to?

Anonymous said...

Nicola, I think you need to go back to school. Where did I suggest we should discourage musically gifted children? What are you on? You're the one who who wants to segregate children into academic and non academic schools at an early age.

I'm not replying to this anymore because you're talking nonsense.

nicola said...

Pete, that is exactly what we do with all other kinds of ability - musical, dramatic, sporting, ballet etc. It is, quite frankly, how to nurture excellence. Noone complains that their child isn't good enough to get into ballet school or wants a place allocated for him/her on the basis of proximity to eg Tring.

Of course, you may well say that the fact that this is how we operate in all other areas does not of itself mean it is the correct way to operate. I agree with that actually. BUT it does mean we should work out a consistent practice and apply it as otherwise academic children are actually discrimated against compared with those displaying other abilities, who ARE nurtured.

But,as I say, i think we are all on the same page. None of us wants a static pool of middle class children going to university. it is just a question of how we would operate to encourage all children to do as well as they can. have a look at the Belvedere in Liverpool....

now, thanks very much for the chat everyone. it's interesting to hear challenging ideas. unfort, now back to my tax return - same resolution every single damn year...to do it in the autumn.

Nicola said...

Anony Mouse,

re musicality, quite correct! you didn't say that and you wouldn't.

But it's the corollary of what you're saying regarding academic ability!

you're agreeing with me.

really must go but, as I say, we are all on the same page and it's good to hear opinions as to how to achieve the same ends.

Anonymous said...

Getting a bit feisty on here!

As a teacher myself, with a few years experience, I would like to add my two-penneth.

Nicola you are, in my opinion, correct to suggest that the best teaching environment is one in which the students are educated in accordance with their ability, be it all-round or in a specialism.

The problem with your view is that you appear to be considering schools as simply being about academic achievement (in certain specialisms). They aren't - they are where the majority of children grow, in so many ways. For that reason it is vital for social mobility that children from different backgrounds within a single community grow together, within one school. If we segregate entrance then we are schooling them to accept segregation throughout their lives.

What does, in my opinion, make sense (and many studies suggest this) is that streaming by ability then takes place within a non-segregated school.

One further question remains - some of the posts preceding this seem to glibly assume that we can test academic ability easily. But what do we mean by 'academic' or 'gifted'? 'Well educated' to this point? A high IQ? Utimately a kid with lower grades from a poorer educational background can make a strong claim to be considerably more gifted than an expensively educated peer with higher grades. The difficulty is then quantifying that.

The unfortunate example of your friend Nicola, and the fact that she was 'discriminated against' because of the school she went to is the exception that proves the rule. Our life situations into which we are placed almost utterly dictate what happens thereon, and we are all discriminated against one way or the other. Obviously your friend had a rough deal in some respects, but on the assumption that she went to a private school, she will also have been dealt some good cards. Most kids are 'discriminated' against from birth due to their low socio-economic status and the ever-increasing lack of social mobility in this country.

HAHC is an unusual example as it was set up specifically with a mission to help encourage social mobility. I would question whether looking beyond its base community will help that - ultimately the strength of a school is integrally linked with the strength of the community that feeds it, and for that reason I think a geographically-based admissions system, with the caveat that a certain % of children are required to be from a certain economic background, is probably the way forward.

jon s said...

Well, aren't the comments getting heated. I think the link up between schools is daft, and part of the anti grammer school ideology (which like all ideological beliefs is not critcal of itself).

Sydney in NSW is one of the best examples of a state eduction with few sink schools and a great deal of mobility. It has one of the best grammar schools in the world ( http://www.sydneyboyshigh.com/ ) as well as performing arts, sports, agricultural and technology high schools.

Selective schools are a good thing, ensuring education is the silver bullet of opportunity. It always strikes me as amazingly discriminative to oppose them. If a child is disabled or suffers from learning difficulties, they need specialised teaching to achieve their potential. Aren't the gifted and talented in the same boat if we don't put them in environments that devdelops them?

Personally I would like to remove teacher tender and pay better teachers more, whilst sacking bad teachers. Also, as in New York failing schools are getting super heads to turn them around, if this fails, the school is shut down and 3 (or more) separate schools are opened in the failed school site and compete for students. ( All types of schools, like this one: http://www.insideschools.org/fs/school_profile.php?id=1530 )

Anonymous, whether you stream or have separate schools you do need to measure children (which can be improved and not the daft way it is done in blighty). Difficulty of measurement and the what happens to the rest question are not sufficient arguments against grammer schools and the opportunities they create. Fix the rest, don't break what works.

Habedasher's Ask is a school to be protected, not forced into mediocrity.

Tamsin said...

Haberdashers is, I understand it, all for the link up - gets brownie points with the Council and a wallop of outside funding.

One of the concerns raised at the meeting last night was whether it was good for the other primary schools in the Telegraph Hill and West Brockley area - and so the community - to effectively close HAHC's doors to their children because of the guaranteed intake from Monson (the Milwall side of the A2). Currently there is some chance that children from Waller, Stainer, and Myatt Gardens will get in. (More now than a few years ago when the entry was a lottery, within ability bands and the intake over three boroughs, now changed to have some of it on distance from the school.) Under the proposals there is automatic intake from Monson and so most children from these other schools will have to go elsewhere - increasing their journey times and meaning that they don't develop local friendships.

Anonymous said...

pupils don't make schools mediodre. Teachers do. I'm all for streaming within the school, but the pupils should come from the surrounding area, not shipped in from outside the community just because they're bright. This bullshit is all about schools trying to maintain gsce pass rates above a certain average. Schools aren't football clubs trying to sign the best players to make the club better. A school should provide the best education it can to whoever walks through it's doors. I don't disagree with specialist schools per se. But specialist musical, or ballet or disability schools are different in that are providing a different service beyond the national basic needs of students, i.e. good gcse results. Haberdashers is not a specialist school in that sense, it's just a good school. If letting in a few children who may not be as gifted as others means the average results go down then so what? Give the local children the chance to improve.

ElijahBailey said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

I believe....

Lewisham operates a banding system A-E and school numbers are made up of 20% from each band.

That Askes has 9 bands and selects on the percentage of applicants for each band. So if most applicants are in Band A they will form the largest number in the school. Therefore the parents of a child in the lowest band may not think it worth attempting to apply.

It would interesting to see what would happen if all the parents of the less academic children applied to the school and skewed the intake in their favour.

From the proposal it is said Monson has a high number of transient pupils (possibly children of immigrants?) Askes state they will stop this. I can't see Askes stopping immigration within the local population and where they move to, so does it come down to their banding system inaffect refusing to teach those children.

The children refused entry will still exist in the area and in the future will it be left to the local schools operating the Lewisham banding system who will be forced to take on the more difficult educational requirements of those children?

nicola said...

Completely agree with Jon S.

We should also be encouraging independent providers to open up and run schools and ALL parents should be given the right to send children there. THereby, children from poorer backgrounds could get a chance that the current geographical requirements do not allow.

People would of course say "Ugh! processing children, publishing results tables, how awful"

You know what? the areas of our lives where there is little or no competition - notably the NHS and education - are a disgrace in terms of the long term and short term value they provide to the taxpayer.

shock horror inject competitive practices into education.

nicola said...

and by the way, Anonymous, teachers don't MAKE schools mediocre. what a thing to say. a conbination of factors operate to make a school good or bad. what about expectations? parental involvement? peer pressure? and yes teachers.

BUT there are plenty of excellent teachers operating in circumstances more akin to crowd control in innner city schools. I've seen classes where 90% of the so called teaching time is spent disciplining children and the challenge is remembering which of their 3 warnings each child is on. try imparting knowledge in those circs.

Headhunter said...

I agree that teachers in inner London schools are often just crowd control.

A few years ago I almost went for a career change and seriously considered teaching. I went on several "observations" at State schools around Islington. What I saw did not put me off teaching, but at some of the schools, teachers did not teach at all.

In fact in some classes I observed, students completely opted out of classes altogether - when they arrived (late) they were given a colouring book by the teacher and directed to the back of the class where they sat and entertained themselves (these kids were in their teens).

There should probably be some kind of "sin bin" that unruly kids can be sent to - a cage somewhere in the school with nothing in it where they have to sit til the end of that lesson, just to get them out of the hair of pupils who may actually want to learn something...

Monkeyboy said...

1) Mt old flatmate used to be a teacher. They all deserve medals - what a nightmnare job.
2) NHS is a disgrace? Hmmmm.... S'pse it depends on which figures or experiences you cherry pick. My parents have been in and out recently and have found it fantastic.

This debate will majke the Battle of the Digicams look tame. I'm outa here.

ElijahBailey said...

Yes because an introduction of 'competition' to the railways certainly gave us a system that was in no way "a disgrace in terms of the long term and short term value they provide to the taxpayer".

Private schools operate in a competative enviroment. They get good grades. Yet the price for that is aggressive streaming both for children to get in and throughout. If a child doesn't look like they are going to make the grade they are asked to leave. That is not placing that child best intrests at heart, only the schools, and it is a selfish, and potentially damaging, way to educate a child.

Schools that are within a community, should be part of that community and contain children from within that community. Think of it the other way round. How would feel if you couldn't send your child to a school 15 minutes but instead one an hour away because the local was so oversubscribed with kids from other boroughs? Is it in the best intrests of the child to make them spend a long time having to get to and from school?

As far as I can see it opening up 'competative' practises as you call would only massivly fuel resentment and dissatisfaction.

Anonymous said...

..and as for competition in health care, if you think its such a great thing then please, move to the US and try being unemployed or on a contract, and getting cancer -- or just getting pregnant. Really, its wonderful. three cheers for competition in essential public services.

jon s said...

My, aren't people getting heated and emotive.

Anonymous and elijahbailey the argument technique you are attempting to deploy is called triangulation or the straw man hypothesis. Essentially - I will compare what you stated to a ridiculous failure (usually an extreme argument), then destroy the ridiculous failure and not what you stated. Neither of you actually engaged what I stated.

What we need is a better structured school system with freedom of access to all, quality and choice. It is the regulated state model, not free markets. This is what I actually suggested, and for me linking Haberdashers to a fedder primary school is a step in the wrong direction.

The local model you prefer (which is a perfectly respectable position) reduces choice compared to a city wide model. At most with streaming you have small groups interacting with each other as opposed to creaming off the best and brightest (an any field) to give them the most opportunity. When the best and the brightest interact with each other in a single school ther academic and social performance is heightened as the bounce off like minded individuals.

So my question to you, is with a local model for all, how does the gifted athlete, mathematician, social scientist, polyglot or musician reach their potential?

Whatever said...

Askes took over Malory secondary school that had less than 10% success in exams and undersubscribed.

With the existing pupils the school became Knights and was immediately oversubscribed.

Exam results have improved but I'm told those my likely to pass are encouraged while others are not.

If you read the school's assessment of itself for OFSTED, there is a high number of exclusions. The school states there are a number of problems with some older children.

As the Askes selection process begins to take affect those with a low standard of education will find it even more difficult to be selected for the school and the problem children will probably find the door slammed in their faces.

Askes selection process does not guarantee its intake reflect the academic abilities of the local population.

So the fundemental problem may not be addressed, merely shunted off for someone else to cope with?

Anonymous said...

Reading through the numerous bloggers debate, I can tell where people like Pete come from and where they intend to go to - rubbish. His idea of admission on grounds of the school you come from is totally rubbish. If as he claims he's up to standard, should it not be the individual's academic standard/performance that should determine admission rather than the fees you paid attending a school or the school you attended? I'll tell you something, I know of people who have paid over 25K in fees and came out with C- grades compared to some who paid very little or nothing at under funded schools and came out with A -grades. So should they be left out to take someone like you? Why?
I now see why and how you ended up consulting and forecasting rubbish after an expensive school education, meanwhile those inexpensively and poorly funded education pupils have become doctors and well known scientists. Come off your high horse Pete and grow up with reality.
By the way, your expensive education spell of English grade - F, your own native langauge, I supposed. Please don't blame it on typo or computer blogging because even those common things, including manners and sentence construction, should be taught as basics in your so-called expensive and well funded Ivy league schools.

Tom said...

Anon @14.30 - I think you have misinterpreted what Pete said. I think your point actually agrees with his (or vice versa, depending on how you see it).

However, I suspect you got a lot of satisfaction sounding off, so hey, let's celebrate that!

Anonymous said...

I think there's a lot of confusion here about Aske's admission system. If parents of low ability children apply they have just as good a chance of getting their child in as the parents of a high ability child (ie very low, unless they have a child at the school already or the child has great aptitude for music). The problem is that parents of low ability children aren't applying there. I know someone who had close links with John Stainer which is one of the nearest primary schools to Aske's. She told me that when the admissions policy changed a few years ago to take account of proximity for the first time very few parents there applied, even though their chances of success had increased. They didn't see it as a school for children like theirs. Unfortunately, 2500 parents did see it as the best option for their children, predominantly children with above average academic ability, so the school has no trouble whatsoever filling up with huge numbers of very able children.

Meanwhile, in other Lewisham schools, there is great difficulty in attracting the parents of the more able, better supported children to apply, and to take up places there. So those schools have to fill the vacant places with less able children.

There's not much way round this without some pretty drastic action from the government, which isn't going to happen.

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