Gordonbrock head to leave in the summer

The Head of Gordonbrock School in Ladywell, Sue Blyth, has announced her departure in today's school newsletter. She says:

At the end of the summer term I shall be saying goodbye to Gordonbrock as I have been appointed to a Head’s job in another school. I shall really miss your lovely children and all the hardworking, dedicated staff who have worked at Gordonbrock over the years.

Having worked on the rebuild of the school in one form or other over the last seven years I am very clear that the children and the staff deserve a building that meets their educational needs, and I really hope that this takes place soon.


The news comes ahead of the Brockley Society's meeting to present their alternative vision for the school's future development on May 4th.

133 comments:

Anonymous said...

Many thanks to the Brockley Society for losing Gordonbrock a great headmistress. Sue was committed to managing the school through the re-build.

Anonymous said...
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TJ said...

Broc Soc lost you a head mistress? Really? Maybe they can work on the mayor next.

Tressilliana said...

In the interests of objectivity, I doubt very much whether Sue's departure has anything to do with the BrocSoc debacle. She has secured another job which must mean she is working out her notice now. Heads have to give a term's notice, I think, so she probably got the job last term, and would certainly have applied then.

Fed up said...

Thank you Tressilliana for clearing that up and injecting some objectivity. In case any one didn't know this is the term when, if teachers are going to move on, they hand in their notice. People change jobs that's that.

Anonymous said...
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Mr Chillax said...
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Bored and tired said...

Just what I was going to point out, Tressilliana. The interview process doesn't happen in a matter of weeks, it must have been going on for quite some time. So perhaps she wasn't as committed to seeing the build through as people thought! I'm not surprised, she has had a few knockbacks over the last few years with 2 rebuilds falling though and a very bad Ofsted report.

Tired but still amused said...

Many thanks to the Brockley Society if your intervention has given us the opportunity to get a great headmistress.

Although I think that maybe as Tresslliana says this would have been a decision made prior to Broc Soc's trying to get a better school built.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what school she is going to?

I know that Ashmead have been looking for a new head.

Anonymous said...

The head publicly stated earlier this year she was looking forward to and fully committed to managing the school through the decant and the rebuild. You really think she would have left while this was going on? How professional would that have looked? Who would hire a head who left a school in the middle of a rebuild?

I asked the Governor of another school what they thought and they confirmed my previous statement, they would not hire someone who appeared to be leaving during a major project.

This is the second time she has planned and prepared the school for a rebuild and the second time it has been cancelled in 5 years.

She would not be leaving if the rebuild was taking place.

FACT!

Anonymous said...

Anyone with views regarding this matter and can not attend Tuesdays meeting should e-mail the Brockley Society at:

chair@brockleysociety.org.uk

Anonymous said...

But the rebuild may well be taking place. It just won't be quite as bad as the original proposal.

Tressilliana said...

Anon, if the rebuild had gone ahead as planned it would be happening now and the public funding would have been secure. As it is, we have a General Election on Thursday and all commentators are saying that savage public spending cuts are absolutely inevitable. None of the parties have been open and honest about what will go. It is therefore by no means certain that Gordonbrock will get its rebuild/refurb and that is what has infuriated me about BrocSoc's intervention. This has been on the cards for over a decade, the planning permission was granted about five years ago and they had plenty of time to get involved at a much earlier stage.

The current committee presumably includes some people who feel very strongly about this which is understandable but my view is that they left it far, far too late to intervene because of the risk that the whole project will fail for the second time. Most, if not all, of the other schools in the area, both primary and secondary, have had huge investment in their buildings. When Lewisham did condition surveys of all their schools in 1997/8 Gordonbrock came out as one of the worst cases and was given high priority for refurb/rebuilding. And here we are now, 12 years on, and no further forward.

Anonymous said...

Winning the battle but loosing the war? The Broc Soc may rue the day they interveaned.

Getting bored said...

12 years on? The original design was reworked because it was already out of date.

Council have been holding this "money disappearing" over school's head. Accept more children and loose your playground or you get nothing. I think I'm angrier about that than any late intervention.
Was this the deal with other schools which received investment?

Colleague was involved with similar problem in different borough and the funding was more secure than the school had been lead to believe. I'd be less hysterical. You'll have to live with a mediocre build for a long time.

Did no-one learn the mistakes of the 60s and 70s.

Why didn't the council sort out a better solution in all this time. If they weren't trying to cram too many children onto one site then they could have resolved the schools problems for less.

With all the new housing they are building in central Lewisham, the council should have built a whole new primary school or at least not take places away from the other local school. Was there never money available for this?

My neighbours were delighted that their children had a reprieve from decant.

Tressilliana said...

Getting bored said: it was agreed between school and LEA way back in 2000 that Gordonbrock would take more children by going to 3-form entry, ie 90 children per year group. This resolves the problem that it currently has a year group size of 75 which means it has mixed age classes, given that standard class sizes nowadays are 30 max. The other way of solving that problem would have been to go down to 2-form entry which is not a runner now because of the huge shortfall of school places.

Lewisham should have seen this shortfall coming, but it's a national problem and seems to have caught LEAs out all over the country. I say again, where are you going to put a new school? What sites have you identified for the purpose that are near where children live, safe, big enough and cheap enough for the LEA to buy them, etc etc?

Tamsin said...

Don't know the details but I gather that LBL Community Services (?) have pulled out of the Moonshot, leaving large empty spaces and massive service charges for the remaining occupiers. Couldn't LBL Education step in and take it over. Nice new or newly refurbished buildings, with masses of public and lottery money recently poured into them.

Getting bored said...

Lewisham Bridge has room for a two form entry school in its current building and lots more area on the site for possible 3, if they are ever desirable for primary schools.

Lewisham Council sold off adjacent council land to Barratts the developers only last year. They knew very well that there was a need for school places in central Lewisham. They knew they needed land for the secondary school. There approach is to reduce the places in one local primary school to create an additional half form entry shortfall, which is to be picked up by Gordonbrock.

Where do Lewisham think the extra children are going to go? They are just juggling between two schools, there is no increase in the numbers of places.

Anonymous said...

Fiddling while Rome burns. There was a solution that was costed, funded, the logistics were in place. Some didn't like the archetecture and here we are. The broc soc has a feasability study that is not fully costed, not funded and has yet to go through a full and thorough consultation. It will though, during the biggest squeeze in public spending for a generation. Well done all.

Time to swallow your pride and accept that this (apparent) compromise solution stands a chance of happening so should be persued.

just a parent said...

As a parent at the school, I do not feel I was consulted. Told, maybe.
When other parent queried errors (not picked up by all the experts) Lewisham didn't do anything to rectify or compensate.

Now I read we are now being used to solve council's problems with promising to shove secondary school in with a primary.

Why have they sold off public land? Is this the site that government has given £20million to kick start work before the election?

£20million, wouldn't that have built a swimming pool and a school on the council land?

Really fed up said...

So, let me understand this, Gordonbrock taking 100 extra pupils is going to solve the problem of lack of school places? So we still need 400 school places. Are these going to be spread between the other 'popular' schools? I can't see the problem being sorted out other than some new school somewhere, or perhaps using the empty buildings currently being used as decant sites. But I'm just parent, I don't work for the council, I'm not the one who quite frankly should have worked all this out before now!

more confused said...

Why exactly are they planning on reducing numbers at Lewisham Bridge?

If they have known about this problem then, why didn't they make Ashmead two form entry?

and is it true that they closed down a whole primary school in Greenwich and still found places for all the children?

Energised and hyped... said...

As I understand it, Gordonbrock is only taking 15 extra pupils a year, over a seven year period, until it has moved from 2.5 to 3 form entry.

That's a drop in the ocean.

I can think of a few places where they could build primary schools. Trouble is - when compulsory purchasing land, they need private investment/housing attached to the deal too - otherwise it's unaffordable.

Looking forward to the meeting on Tuesday, where I will be lending my full support to BrocSoc.

Anonymous said...

Not sure that consultation means getting an opinion from each individual parent, teacher and resident and giving them each equal weight. Sounds like this could be death by comitee. You'll never please all the people all the time. I just think that given where we are now we ought to get spades in the ground. Central and local government would love to hide bad news behind the wrangling.

A definative decision on funding would help.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the reason for Sue going is that the school is being "advised" by another Lewisham head (from Elliot Bank) who has had the power, which she has used, ro overrule Sue's decisions since this federation plan was agreed with lewisham Council last term.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there is a whole empty primary school just inside Greenwich, but it did take Lewisham Children.

Lewisham have been making atrocious decisions. The first decant site (council land) has been demolished and levelled to relocate the traveller site rather than provide more school places. Presumably to please developers in central Lewisham. The site next to Lewisham Bridge, was council land, but they sold that to developers. They would not have needed to compulsory purchase. The site in central Lewisham is plenty large enough to take accommodate a larger and more pleasant traveller site and a school, not to mention a swimming pool and new housing.

Who makes all these decisions?

just a parent said...

It's true you can't take on board everyone's opinion. Would have been good if they had taken on guidance from current planing advice. Also worth keeping parents informed and up to date. Especially since there seem to have been some cocks ups in what was being presented. It was a parent who pushed them to change the design of the windows because they knew Ashmead had problems with too hot classrooms. Why didn't those more closely involved know to sort this out?

Imagine being at the school for years and not having a clue such dramatic changes were being planned.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, as a new parent at the school, I have no experience of planning processes and what is a good design and poor design.

I placed my trust in the so called "experts" at the council and rely on the head of the school and the board of governors to do what is best for the school.

I as a normal parent have no idea what a modern school needs or doesn't. This doesn't mean I don't care, it means I trust the custodians of the school to do what is best for my childs education. I concentrate on whether she is happy, learning and progressing educationally.

just a parent said...

Well, I am shocked at what custodians have agreed! Just as well there turns out to be some parents a bit more on the ball.

Anonymous said...

A neutral question. Is the brocsoc plan as fully worked up as the origional? All archetects use RIBA stages A to F to classify their work. If they are at the feasability stage then the brocsoc has a long way to go before they have a design ready to go. An architect, like amy other design contractor, will give you any result you like and will advise on cost but you have to go through the whole tender
process before you know what you are dealing with.

Brocsoc, what RIBA stage are you at?

Anonymous said...

Me again, just leafwd through the study, only 42 pages - most just interesting guff about the old school that Architects like to add to puff out their reports. What you have is the arcitectural equivalent of a fag packet sketch. Very high level concepts, no mention of services or any details of surveys or assesmwnts of the existing fabric. Lot of caveats 'could be' 'we are confident with more work' it's not thorough, not saying it's incorrect in it's conclusions but but is not an alternative scheme - hope you din't pay too much for it.



RIBA

Lep Recorn said...

Just back from the meeting . . .

I would say over 100 people turned up and that 80% or so were adamant that Broc Soc should cease and desist any and all objections to the rebuild.

The most fascinating intervention came very late when the Gordonbrock chair of governors gave a very calm and dignified statement of the position from his perspective.

He said that the council planning department had informed Broc Soc that their (revised) plan dis not seem feasible. Furthermore they had offered a compromise that the cladding of the proposed build could be amended to improve its visual appearance and maintainability and that the entrance could be looked at again to preserve the facade of the remaining original building.

Several important questions were asked:

Is this of any concern to Broc Soc as it is outside (just) the conservation area?

Why was the call for an EGM and a binding vote not acted upon?

How much dis the injunction cost and how much did the Broc Soc plans cost?

What, if any, is the relationship between the Broc Soc architects and the Broc Soc committee?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the summary! And what answers, if any, were forthcoming on those points, please? Very interested to hear ...

just a parent said...

You missed out the rude finger pointing parents. I was told Brockley Society were arranging a meeting right from the beginning. I am not interested in EGm and aggressive men shouting. I wanted to hear about what had happened.

The Chair of the Governors failed to intervene and tell the parents what was going on when he was busy going to all those meeting with the architects, sorting out the electric sockets.

Assume the head knew this was happening too and failed to inform the parents. They were told AFTER the scheme had gone into planning. Gone in with major errors, which no-one at all their meetings had managed to spot.

Shame on them and shame on all those with so little regard for our heritage. Thank you Brockley Society for exposing there was an alternative way. Of course their scheme isn't perfected. Lewisham haven't perfected theirs either, but it seems that is what we'll be getting. At a huge price.

Anonymous said...

I've just come back from the meeting as well and was appalled and shocked by the aggressive behaviour of many of the people attending. Finger pointing, shouting, not letting someone who actually has experience of working in a new school building speak, abusive insults. How very intimidating, no wonder some people were afraid to come. There were children there, what kind of example are you setting them? Shame on you.

Dickon said...
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Lep Recorn said...

Yes there were children present - and two of them spoke . . . maybe anon 23.08 would care to relate what they said.

Emotions were running high - but when the meeting was limited to 90 min and the first 45 min were taken up with Broc Soc 'explaining' the situation. After which the two parents who had pressed for the meeting were harried to finish after they had had the microphone for only 15 min . . . maybe some people were peeved . . .

The person who had experience of working a PFI build was not a Broc Soc resident member and not a Gordonbrock parent - but was not harried to finish by the 'chair'. As was pointed out, by those who had a direct interest and were waiting to speak, the Gordonbrock rebuild was not PFI. One interruption at that point was a question, presumably from a teacher, if they had experience of teaching in an Edwardian build?

The finger pointing and shouting was unforgivable. But talking to him afterwards he was quite clear that he maintains that the meeting of the 5th was arranged at the meeting of the 20th and not prior to that as had been claimed by the 'chair'.

Big Deal said...

I think what was apparent was that people are angry at firstly the Brockley Society's intervention and secondly the refusal to admit that they might just be wrong on this occasion. Of course their opinion is valid but it really is time to listen to what parents want and what our children need.

more confused said...

Don't forget the aggressive and rude women now.

Anonymous said...

What the vociferous parents from the meeting tonight want is not the same as what I want. I had friends who couldn't face coming tonight, because they think those parents are bad enough the way they stomp round the playground and hang round at the school gates.

They were a great example to the children present. Not letting another parent who seemed to know what she was talking about from all sides (new build schools, decant experience and working in a new build). How rude they were.
And the woman who heckled her, shouting about teaching in old buildings. I've taught in old buildings and been educated in them and they win hands down.

It isn't just the Prendergasts in Ladywell Fields who are suffering with their new build.


The child who stood up to say about the poor state of the building might have done well to address it to the councillor behind. Wasn't he on the mayor's cabinet for education. All these years to sort nothing out. But Massey? just sat there laughing.

Well done getting children thinking a decant is a great adventure, hope they will be thinking the same thing a year down the line.

Evidently lots of parents don't want to retain our heritage for future generations. It seems if the council hadn't gone down such a bad route, we could have had all things.

matrowan said...

Looks eminently feasible to me, especially since they are replicating lots of the one they tell us works.

Not sure why they don't think it is feasible, they replicated the original plans from another school.

Anonymous said...

The worst part of the BrocSoc's ill-conceived, half arsed alternative plans is their lack of integrity to the original buildings. The first, by their own admission, was completely unfit, the second attempted to salvage the character of the original buildings by sticking in new ones smack in the middle of the old ones.

Take a building like the Geffrye Museum in Hackney, beautiful modern extension but designed in complete contrast and harmony to the original, and appropriate to its context. Any new building deserves to feel appropriate to its time, rather than being fudged and shoe-horned into a past era. Brand new 21st century red brick sat next to Edwardian brick is going to look ill-considered and awkward. Also, the character of the original buildings are centered around the central halls. From what I recall of the plans (correct if I'm wrong), Lewisham's retained the West Hall for a new library, BrocSoc's obliterated two of them with a new corridor. Surely preservation deserves more respect than that?

Unbelievable to me that a Society so concerned with architectural integrity could display such a lack of it with their alternative plans. You were given solutions to your two main objections, not only did you not consider them, you didn't even mention them in the presentation.

Brockley Society are a completely one-sided, blinkered group of people - I'm not in the least bit surprised by the anger leveled at you last night. You deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Well, that would be an objective analysis of the situation then would it ...???

Commentators do themselves no favours by flinging insults around. I'd be far more prepared to listen to an opinion if I felt it was less offensive.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I believe it is. The platform for debate was not neutral - the weight of time allotted for each viewpoint was completely lopsided. You're screwing very directly with people's lives and futures, which is why I believe you should expect this level of animosity.

That said, and if it means obtaining an objective response from you, I apologize for the insults.

Gordonbrock parent said...

I feel sorry for the lady who waited her turn to speak and stood up to tell us about her experience of a school rebuild and a decant. She wasn't there on behalf of the Brockley Society - but came on her own behalf to share an experience. Although everyone listened carefully to the others, she was jeered and heckled by the parents.

As a parent I'm glad my children weren't present to see it. Also please don't complain about the lopsided meeting. I was aware before the meeting that this meeting had been called by Broc Soc to explain their actions. It wasn't a debate - and Broc Soc did not have to let all parties speak.

Before I get lambasted by the more agressive of the parents who post here - let me be straight. I am for the rebuild, and do not think the buildings are worth conserving. I am not, however, part of the parent group that think bullying is the way forward. To paraphrase someone from last night they do not speak in my name. The way they behave is shameful.

The Cat Man said...

Wow - sounds pretty frightening stuff, It seems it's the typical scenaro whereby selfish parents want to get everything their way, the broc sic only want to protect our heritage - a mighty aim that everyone will enjoy permanently going forward. I'm guessing alot of the parents care less about our British heritage as they are foriegn born?

Another Gordonbrock parent said...

Thank you Gordonbrock Parent for saying exactly what I feel about the situation.

I differ slightly. The Edwardian Gordonbrock buildings are not startlingly wonderful, would be great if they hadn't been somewhat neglected, and they are much nicer than the 'high-rise' Victorian school buildings, and much much nicer than Brockley Primary (in my opinion). Perhaps it has got to a point where a rebuild is the better option (though I believe we wouldn't be having to make this choice if the school didn't have to take extra pupils).

However, I think the way some parents have behaved is shameful and now it is bordering on the ridiculous.

So those people who think they are speaking for 'us Gordonbrock parents', think again.

another parent said...

So anonymous 8.59, you would rather pull down all our Edwardian craftsmanship because you can't preserve the interiors. The classrooms are already a good size in that hall, they could refurbish and keep the hall anyway. I don't recall anyone from Brockley Society saying the buildings weren't fit for purpose. It seemed as though they had compromised so as to be able to move with a short timescale.

Shame there wasn't someone who knew what they were doing right at the beginning or we wouldn't be pulling down our heritage on one side of the site to rebuild new on the other.

There seem to be a lot of early bad decisions we will have to live with.

Anonymous said...

Oooooh, Catman, that's fighting talk. I also don't like the attitude of the vociferous few. You can be passionate about something without being rude and deeply unpleasant. These people are turning some who might otherwise have been on their side against them. It is ridiculous to moan about the one-sided nature of the meeting - it was a meeting organised by broc soc to explain broc soc's plans. I haven't noticed the anti-broc-soc league being open to others' points of views at their meetings. The fact is that the vast majority of parents seem to be pro build and you should capitalise on that rather than bullying and being aggressive towards the minority with an oposing view.

Tamsin said...

That comment starts off sensible and then goes totally off the wall - my guess, also not having been there - would be that the most raucous parents are the usual WMC.

Anonymous said...

Yes - I would rather pull down half the buildings if it meant we could proceed by making the best of the remaining two. Whatever your feelings on any of the proposals, you're never going to get a satisfactory, unanimous agreement by everybody - there must always be a level of compromise. The alternatives are just pie-in-the-sky, simply because to pursue them will end up with no funding.

I happen to agree completely with the two main objections raised, the new entrance and render concerns. But solutions were put forward that only came to light at the end of the meeting - incredibly significant information to omit. If BrocSoc were willing to continue that discussion I believe their actions might actually be worthwhile. As it stands it just puts the whole scheme at risk.

As for comments about being foreign born, they are at best irrelevant, at worst grossly racist. This is a discussion about the future of our children's education not immigration.

Danja said...

When you say it starts off sensible, you mean simply that you agree with it and therefore it is 'sensible'.

It doesn't seem to me to be selfish to prioritise a badly needed school renovation over preservation of an old building.

It also seems to me to be just as selfish to prevent that renovation because of an overwheening single-issue obsession with victoriana (and edwardiana), to the extent that it prioritises a set of buildings of modest merit over education.

Its a shame said...

There were also threats last night 'to destroy Brockley Society' if they did not back off. Very nice behaviour.

Gordonbrock parent said...

Danja - I think Tamsoin was refering to Catman's remarks about the ethnicity of the parents at the meeting. And Tamsin, you are right, it was overwhelmingly WMC

Anonymous said...

I thought I was participating to a football match with hooligans on one side sadly ranting over and over about the same limited concepts. The only thing they appeared to say was that financing for the school could be lost.
I heard threatens and insults; a very good examples for those children present at the meeting.
On the other hand the school has about 500 pupils, which means about 1000 parents. Last night about 70 of those parents showed up and performed a soliloquy.
I would have liked to hear the answers of Brockley Society to the questions and critics made by these parents. It was instead impossible thanks also to two school officials that made even more redundant speeches repeating over and over concepts already made before.
The only impression I take away from this meeting is that this is a bunch of short minded hotheads whose spirits are fired up by school and Council officials and who cannot see beyond the three years their children will spend at the school.
They made clear that they do not care about any legacy for future generations and that the school may result in a very bad investment for the community.
The most embarrassing part was the pseudo pre-electoral speech performed by the Council official, who should have instead presented the apologies of the Caouncil for not having involved the amenity society at an earlier stage, made an amateurish mistake in the application process that left the door open to legal procedure and for the failure in counteracting the enormous shortfall in school places during 15 years of economic boom.

Parent said...

Danja, where is it written that you can't possibly have a good education in mediocre Edwardian buildings?

Teachers inspire children to learn, not equipment.

We don't need to get into an argument about who is being more selfish.

The Cat Man said...

My point was about a common heritage 'connecting' people to it's surroundings and not about ethnicity. If people wanted to keep/feel part of thatheritage then maybe this would be less of an issue.

It would be interesting for someone to work out if the rebuild money was spent to give an extra 10% on teachers wages to attract better teachers to inspire pupils to get high grades - how many years would that but us? 25 perhaps? Sounds like a good investment to me!

highhorse said...

I was at the meeting last night and was very impressed by the Brocsoc presentation. What a shame the council are spending millions of pounds (our money!) on a shoddy rebuild that will not be a patch on the existing buildings in terms of quality, longevity, sustainability, etc. The meeting was meant to be a presentation by brocsoc so in my view those supporting the rebuild "hijacked" the meeting with their aggressive and shocking behaviour. The council have publically recognised their existing plans are not brilliant and fall short of today's 2010 standards. So when are the pro-rebuild camp going to appreciate that the Broc Soc stance is not just about the buildings, it's about not compromising on the quality and design, to not just "make do". Improving the school facilities by building a bigger school hall, adding a library and computer suite and better loo facilities are all part of Broc Soc remit... it's just they don't want to see the existing buildings torn down just for the sake of it. I don't call that progress and I am happy to lend my support to a campaign that recognises quality build versus mediocrity!
PS I know many parents support Broc Soc but didn't want to go to the meeting because of the intimidation they had experienced at the school gates. Do not ake last night's meeting as representative of all parents' views.

Anonymous 8.59 said...

In the interests of objectivity, I accept that some parents' comments have spilled over - but the manner in which the events have played out, and the effect they'll have on our kids is the reason why.

Back to the point in question, and the reason I originally felt compelled to post, is that I believe the original plans actually pay more respect to heritage than BrocSoc's (for the reasons I mentioned). The new building deserves as much respect as the old ones do - the scheme (with the 2 objections satisfied) are fair and balanced and the only realistic way forward given the risk to delaying the build.

Why create a faux-pastiche new building that actually detracts from the original heritage when the there is the possibility of retaining more of the chracter of the 2 remaining buildings (both in terms of retaining the halls and keeping the new bits away from them on the opposite side of the site). They're not notable enough for listing, but they are part of Brockley's history.

For the sake of progress, BrocSoc please accept the solutions to the 2 main objections so that we can move forwards.

The Cat Man said...

I am also sympathetic to the idea of new extensions joined to the existing as long as the existing buildings are 100% retained. Glass works well

Brockley Society Chair said...

A point of information:

I quote below my email of 16 April 2010 to Simon Newman and three others suggesting a special meeting to discuss Gordonbrock:

"Dear Simon, Paul, Ele and Rory,

"You have indicated that you wish to attend the Brockley Society meeting on Tuesday 20th April . . . to discuss the issues around Gordonbrock School. The meeting has been advertised . . . as being about 'A strategy for Brockley's myriad mews'. . . We cannot at this stage change the subject of the meeting.

"Gordonbrock deserves a better discussion than the last 20 minutes of the meeting. Can I propose that we fix another date for a meeting specifically about Gordonbrock where we can have a full discussion. Please suggest one or two dates that would suit you, perhaps in a fortnight . . . to give time to publicise it. Please also indicate how many parents you expect will attend. . . We need to be sure [the venue] is large enough . . .

"Best wishes, Clare Cowen, Chair, Brockley Society"

At the meeting on 20 April we agreed the date of 4 May for the Gordonbrock meeting. I wish to dispel the myth that a group of parents "compelled" Brockley Society to hold last night's meeting.

Paddyom said...

I am completely unconnected to this whole issue but as an outsider observing, last nights meeting sounds like it was some sort of drunken brawl with yobs outshouting each other. Why do so many Londoners immediately revert to the agressive when fairly challenged?

In my opinion, for what its worth, Lewisham Councils strategy for decades has been to bulldoze the old gems in our borough and throw up cr@p in its place; just look at the state of Lewisham/Catford town centres today - and thats before they construct that ghastly Loampit Vale development.
Compare this record with BrocSoc who can be thanked for ensuring the beautiful conservation area remains just that. So I tend to side with BrocSoc on this arguement as their track record outshines that of the Council hands down.

Anonymous said...

Caught up on Sunday papers and read this by Helen Fielding

12 things I love about Blighty

number 9 is "Very old things casually unheralded everywhere. You don't notice how extraordinary it is, living surrounded by relics of hundreds of years of ancestors, until you're not".

Anonymous said...

Can we clear up something? The BrocSoc have not presented an alternative design. It's a 43 page document with a rough idea. You couldn't give that to a contractor to price or build nor can you make a reliable judgement as to whether it is any less 'cheap' than the fully worked up design.

Anonymous said...

Am I right in thinking that:

Brockley Cross Action Group = guys that organise planting of flowerbeds, local events etc.

Brockley Society = group who roam the conservation area with a paper pad and pen, complaining about sky dishes and generally getting up everyone's trumpet?

Same guys?

Tressilliana said...

Brockley Cross Action Group not the same as the Brockley Society.

Reading this, boy am I glad not to be involved with Gordonbrock any more. The whole ghastly mess sounds like a nightmare for all concerned.

Incidentally, the Brockley Society has of course no right whatsoever to get Lewisham Council to adopt its design for a school building on Lewisham-owned land. If I put in for planning permission to do something to my house people would have a perfect right to object to my plans but not to push for me to accept their plans.

Headhunter said...

I agree Paddyom. Lewisham BC does not appear to have much interest in safeguarding heritage. Look at what they did recently with the row of shops near Lewisham centre, opposite the new mega police station. They demolished the lot! Admittedly they were very dilapidated, however that seems to simply be because Lewisham BC bought them up many years ago and allowed them to decay.

I couldn't attend the meeting yesterday but it does sound like a bunch of rabble rousing parents shouted down a meeting which was set up to discuss Broc Socs plans. Of course the parents' views should be heard but why should we rush through with demolition and reconstruction of less than perfect modern buildings simply to satisfy a single generation of parents and kids? What about future generations and people living locally?

Headhunter said...

What's happening with comments? Tried to post something here and it has vanished in to thin air...

Headhunter said...

Oh there it is...

Danja said...

We don't need to get into an argument about who is being more selfish

I agree - it's a dead end argument. That was my point really - responding to C***man and Tamsin's arrogation of selflessness for their own side of the argument.

TJ said...

Tressilliana - I think Broc Soc are only 'pushing' their plans in so far as to show their is an alternative to pulling down the Edwardian buildings. Either they fight for conservation ro they don't.

Anonymous said...

Simply satisfying kids and parents sounds fine to me? As I say, brocsoc do not have an alternative, the archetect has provided a sketch in accordance with his clients brief. People are givin it far more weight than it merits. The only realmwinners are the archtectural firms who will charge for an actual redesign. That will need to be re-tendered, bugets agreed.... Oh? The funding has been 'defered' you say? Never mind it's only the one generation.

HH, stick to bikes.

Anonymous said...

Priced up design or not. The council consistently have said they are demolishing because buildings are not fit for purpose. Brockley Society have shown they could be.

They have rather obviously pointed out that other local schools with same configuration are fit for purpose. I noted that they politely did not point out that these school got outstanding and good offsted reports.

One minute it isn't costed the next they say it will cost more.

Parent shouted at someone trying to give her experienced point of view, something about not good for teachers having an old building.

I wonder should I save up to privately educate, that way I can have more certainty of an old school building and a bit more accountability on how money is spent.

I do sympathise with all parents though that there is a time limit on the money and all that uncertainty. Don't sympathise with their short termism though.

TJ said...

bad grammar and spelling from me again - maybe I should go straight to the back of the (Edwardian?) class?

wrong side of brockley said...

There are plenty of listed buildings in Ladywell that are either going to be demolished (Glue Factory) or are falling down (Playtower) - why can't BrocSoc devote as much energy to saving these much loved buildings as they do to saving two of Gordonbrocks buildings?

Anonymous said...

wsob - because they are not in the conservation area - and neither is Gordonbrock!!

Anonymous said...

And there's no obligation to save a building JUST because it's old. Conservation Rules are to be used to defend, not to attack!

Anonymous said...

You can anything you like given enough moneycans time. We have neither. TJ, well done for avoiding the point. Where is this alternative design?

Anonymous said...

I wonder?

Is it the first sign of madness, or just pure egocentricity to pose and then answer your own questions?

Anonymous said...

Just the one specific question. Where is the alternative design? Lewisham have theirs on the table , brocsoc have a sketch.

Anonymous said...

@anon 14:00

The point is not old or new, it is beauty and 100 years history vs poor standards in hugly concrete buildings that will last few years at most.

If you are keen to live in a shabby world it is your prerogative, however please allow others that will also be affected by the school to make a stand for the aesthetic of the Borough.
A nicer Borough with parks and beautiful buildings is a better place for children to grow up in, but if you actually prefer your children to grow up in high rising and tarmac congested place you are free to go.

Many monsters have been built in Lewisham already, and many more are being planned with the complacency of a Council that is so concern about the area that employs only 2 enforcement officers.

I welcome anyone that tries to make some sense into the unregulated transformation of this beautiful area, whether it is within the conservation or not.

The experience with PFI development in other school and houses as been extremely negative, but noone wants to hear this because the parents are only interested in the next few years while their own children are in that school.

Tressilliana said...

The present scheme is not funded by a PFI.

Anonymous said...

Lots of glib statements, where is the evidence that it will last 'only a few years'?

Tamsin said...

Hang on, Danja, I'm not really entering into the argument about this because I know very little - I was primarily intending to criticise Catman for the second part of his remark which - the way it was stated, although he has now clarified what he was sort of getting it - verged on the racist.

If, skimming through the posts, a compromise suggestion has come out of yesterday's meeting with new build elements and keeping some of the old that does seem to be the way to go.

Broc. Soc. are also the people who expend a lot of energy arranging (love it or loathe it) the Hilly Fields Summer Fayre.

Monkeyboy said...

Cupid tea anyone?

Monkeyboy said...

Cup of tea anyone?

Monkeyboy said...

Cupid tea anyone?

Mungyboy said...

Mung tea anyone?

Mb said...

Sodding iPhone! Should have read 'cup of tea'

Simon said...

Firstly an apology.

I am deeply embarrassed and sorry that I stood, shouted and pointed at last nights meeting.

It was regarding one particular point when Clare was answering a question regarding the origins of last nights meeting. It was directly relevent to myself and I did stand and raise my hand for quite a time but was ignored by the Chair before I felt I had to interupt. Yes I ended up shouting to be heard.

To all present last night, I apologise.

simon said...

Chair of the BS,

If we are posting e-mails in isolation, have a look at this one which you sent me on the 23rd April.

"Dear Brockley neighbours and others

Last Tuesday's BrocSoc meeting about Brockley's various mews decided to set up a steering group to work on tackling the problems and improving the mews.

It also decided to hold a special meeting (details below) about Brockley Society's intervention in the rebuilding proposals for Gordonbrock School.

This has been requested by parents and we welcome the chance to explain our proposals. Everyone interested is encouraged to come to the meeting.

If you need more information, please contact ……"


I do believe you state you arranged the meeting on the 4th May at the request of parents.

Clare, it is misleading to post on here one e-mail in isolation.

The BS chair has posted

"I wish to dispel the myth that a group of parents "compelled" Brockley Society to hold last night's meeting"

I agree entirely, many thanks for clearing that up. It was not a myth.

Before I informed BS that I was to attend the meeting on the 20th, the BS had no plans to hold a meeting with the parents. Read Clare’s post above again. If she did have plans for a meeting, why didn't she say so in the e-mail of the 17th April. Yes, Clare said she was happy to arrange a special meeting but they certainly had not planned to do so themselves. Again, she would have said “we are planning a meeting already”. They were not.

In doing so she does dispels the Myth that "we compelled BS to hold a meeting" and I agree. I have never used the word compelled.

Following Clares published e-mail of the 17th,it was subsequently agreed we would have 20 minutes for discussions regarding Gordonbrock at the meeting on the 20th, at which I tabled my motion, as seconded, and called for a Special general Meeting.

Perhaps you could post again, explaining why the Brockley Society have completely ignored my motion, which was tabled and seconded at your meeting on the 20th April and why have I not been given an explanation?
------------------------

FYI, I'm afraid I will not be on line for the next 10 days so you can now say what you like.

HowSoonIsNow said...

it's ironic that Gordonbrock School's website proudly says:

"Gordonbrock School is a welcoming community. We respect ourselves, others and our environment. We create an environment where individuals feel safe, secure and valued."

Not much of that on show last night from those parents backing Lewisham. Simon et al, you should be embarrassed and ashamed by your behaviour. I was certainly ashamed of it, as a fellow GB parent..

Also, as has been said this was BrocSoc's meeting to present their proposal, as advertised in the Gordonbrock Newsletter (which also said 'all welcome' by the way in response to Lewisham Council's token muppet).

BrocSoc also gave the pro-Lewisham parents the chance to speak (they didn't need to) and then there was meant to be a Q&A session. Not a rabble-rousing, slanderous, free-for-all, with some of the behaviour bordering on deranged.

Also, agree with the point that Lewisham's smug Labour councillor should have answered questions about why GB is considered not fit for purpse - is it because the council has failed to maintain it properly for the last few years, ever since the initial rebuild was on the cards? Perhaps the reason for them not maintaining it is because they were hoping it would degenerate to such a state that they could get away with calling it 'not fit for purpose?'

Lastly - Stillness is an identical school to Gordonbrock, built the same year to the exact same design. It was deemed fit for purpose and was refurbished. It also consistently delivers OUTSTANDING ofsted results. How can two sets of identical buildings be both 'unfit' and 'outstanding'? Oh, maybe if you don't maintain one, or have an ineffectual Head? By Sue, thanks for the (bad) memories...

Graham and Linda said...

Gordonbrock needs a rebuild, FACT. Lewisham is ready to go and we can't go on faffing about waiting for arrogant Brockley Society members to get their ideal rebuild approved. Sit round the table with the planners and allow our children to have a 21st century education, it's what they deserve, for their sake we can't allow the funding to be lost.

Tamsin said...

Don't spoil it, MB! Cupid Tea is just what people need to learn to love one another. (G&S The Sorcerer, anyone?)

Dispassionate Observer said...

@HowSoonIsNow 'and then there was meant to be a Q&A session'

I heard a lot of questions being asked but very few answers being given.

My impression was that the point at which the debate became heated was when people realised that the brockley society were not going answer any questions. Up to that point it had been polite and respectful.

I can't help thinking what a sheltered life many of you must have led! Shouting, heckling, finger pointing are all part of the political landscape - look at the House of Commons! Where are the cries of appalling behaviour, disrespectful..?

Mr Chillax said...

so what was the outcome of the vote?

The Cat Man said...

Well, we are going to demolish the site and far from being a school turn it into a KFC drive thru cause that's what people want innit!

Anonymous said...

results of vote:

1st Choice Lewisham plans - 80
1st choice Brockley Society Proposal - 19

Should Brockley society continue their involvement with the GordonBrock school project?

Yes 34
No 71

google said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@Dispassionate Observer - well said.

Interesting vote result. Now, after all the arguments, lets allow democracy to ensue

Monkeyboy said...

I've hired nick to promote it. We're having a group hug on hilly fields to launch

Anonymous said...

@Simon you are ranting again.

You had your 30 minutes of fame yesterday night, please go back to corner and stop mumbling.

highhorse said...

So, it's a "yes" to ugly and inferior quality rendered new buildings in a myriad of colours (that will probably need to be replaced in the next 15/20 years if Prendergast's anything to go by), less playground space and retaining two old buildings that won't be insulated despite a budget of £12million. Hmmmmm, not sure I buy into that one. As I've said before, last night's rowdy and rude rabble may have shouted the loudest, but they do not represent the views of ALL Gordonbrock parents. I am backing Broc Soc as I believe their plans sympathetically meet the needs of future generations of children, as well as my own, without resorting to architectural vandalism. I love new buildings as well as old, by the way, but I think Lewisham has enough nondescript "doctor's surgery waiting room-type buildings" without adding Gordonbrock to the list. The council is talking to Broc Soc and the funding's secure for at least a year... So why stick with the existing poorly designed council plans when a far superior?

name said...

I haven't seen the plans. This situation is Labours fault, if they hadn't made funding available to renovate schools, this argument wouldn't be happening. Just saying.

Big Deal said...

So almost 70% of people would like the Brockley Society to cease their involvement. Is it not now time to listen to the majority and salvage some of the respect that has been lost.

Anonymous said...

Bet I'm getting annoying now. What alternative design? The BrocSoc do not have a design that has been developed to anywhere near the same level nor is it costed. It's not a small matter, developing an architects sketch into something you can go forward with will take time and money. Also what evidence do you have that this design will only last 15-20yry? And what evidence do you have that the BrocSoc Archetect will design to a better spec?

If the design is really only good for 15-20yrs it wouldn;t pass building regs. Your comment is full of bluff and bluster.

Anonymous said...

is there a photo of this school? I wanna know what all the fuss is about

Anonymous 8.59 said...

Quite right, they don't represent ALL parents or residents, but clearly they represent the majority. You can't shout louder on a slip of paper.

The comment about the building being replaced in 15/20 years is flippant, unsubstantiated and unhelpful. OK, its not to everyones taste but its approved, supported by the majority of parents, the school and the council.

As I've said previously, the two primary objections raised about the entrance hall and rendering are completely valid and have been accepted. We've had the debate, lets at least attempt to resolve this issue and work together towards getting the approved scheme the very best it can be.

Anonymous said...

And the alternative design? That's fully specified and costed? I've seen a full tender package for construction projects. The 43 page thing from the brocsoc does not give anyone the information to claim it's a credible alternative. It was a vain attempt to bolster their argument and it's demonstrably failed. Do we get to see the client brief that they worked too?

tired and just tired said...

Gordonbrock needs a refurbishment and new buildings. FACT

Once the buildings are lost a part of our heritage is gone forever. FACT

Would have been better to talk calmly as no-one wants the school to loose the money. FACT

From outset of intervention school and chair of governors has made this very personal. FACT

Late in day intervention. FACT

Cancellation of decant great for lots of parents and students. FACT

I'm bored now. FACT

Great community school? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Whilst I can see the rabble don't care, but I was led to believe that the scheme wasn't in line with planning guidelines. The planners were very clear they were judging it on a previously passed, worse scheme not on the present site.

Shouldn't the council be looking to something which fits in with all the sustainability and heritage guidelines to make sure it gets through?

Tressilliana said...

Prendergast's lower site buildings are not being pulled down because they were poorly constructed in the first place. If the money had been available to re-develop the lower site wholesale in 1995 when the school moved to Hilly Fields, it would have been done then. From my limited knowledge of the school's Building Schools for the Future plans, if they plan to pull the lot down and start again it's so as to make the best use of space. The buildings currently there are a post-war science block, which is at least 50 years old, a temporary building and two newer buildings put up in the second half of the 90s. Does anyone know for a fact that these will go?

So let's not start drawing false conclusions from Prendergast about how long Gordonbrock's new buildings will last, if it ever gets any.

Also, my children attended Gordonbrock school, as I've said before. It's never been a perfect school - is there such a thing? However, we were very happy with how our children got on there. It's very easy to destroy a school's reputation, and very hard to get it back again. Please could people think long and hard before throwing around unsubstantiated allegations about school staff and governors. I know from personal experience that it is a thankless task being a school governor but somebody has to do it. Show them some respect.

another parent said...

My parent friends didn't want to come to the meeting, because of the sort of parents they knew would be there shouting.

Are governors supposed to update parents on plans for school? May be thankless, but would be useful to know. We didn't know until it had gone in for planning. It seems they could have told us what was going on prior to breaking up for summer.

Anonymous said...

Labour candidate Steve Bullock writing in this week Mercury....

There were about 600 more applications for primary places (in Lewisham) this year than there were two years ago.

We are providing about 600 more this year.....

Many of our existing schools have pulled out all the stops to create extra classes....

94% of children have been offered a place at one of their chosen preference schools.

The remaining 6% have been allocated places at nearby schools...or neighbouring boroughs to which they have applied.

....a London-wide birthrate explosion and an increase in young couples moving to the area (no bad thing in itself), EVERY child who wanted a place in a Lewisham primary school this year has been offered one.

....we will go on doing whatever it takes to ensure that all of our borough's young people have a good local school to attend.

Lep Recorn said...

Pictures of the school are available at www.savegordonbrock.com

It was stated at the meeting that the results of the ballot would be posted on the Broc Soc website. They do not seem to be there so the provenance of the figures above is unknown.

At the meeting Rob(?) made a comment about 'Prendergast wanting to erect temporary portacabin classrooms on Hilly Fields'. Then an aside 'They hope' meaning 'They will be lucky'.

To forestall Broc Soc resorting to injunctions which have questionable support from its members. Can I suggest a ballot of all households in the conservation area asking if they agree or disagree with the proposal? I would suspect that Prendergast might be willing to fund the electoral reform society to administer it. . . .

Anonymous said...

I'm probably wrong to be suspicous...but it's interesting the number of buildings in the borough that have recently become listed to thwart present or future planning schemes.

Anyway it's good to see localism working so well in Brockley.

highhorse said...

Election Day! Let's look to the future with some positivity. Broc Soc are enagaging with the council to improve elements of the council's existing poor design. For example, they're insisting the retained old buildings are all insulated (no provision for this on the council's existing plan), the playground space is increased (the existing council plan decreases it, despite the larger intake of kids)and checking that quality building materials are used, etc, etc. Broc Soc have also agreed to the infant's block being demolished, as this seemed to be the main stumbling block when Broc Soc presented their plans to the council. This is a massive compromise, proving that Broc Soc is serious about moving this project forward for the benefit of the whole community. The facts are the council messed up bigtime by failing to conduct a full environmental survey, so now have to resubmit their plans properly. Any anger about the decant being delayed should, in my opinion, be directed at Lewisham council, not Broc Soc. What the council did (or in this case, what they didn't do!) was highly illegal and if it had been discovered by external inspectors they could have been fined thousands of pounds. By making this big compromise Broc Soc hope the council will retain the main Gordonbrock Road school building as the main entrance to the school (Amyruth is the main entrance on the existing council plan - why?!) and this, along with all the other things that will improve the school environment further, will benefit all. With regards to the decant it might be helpful if both sides view this as an entirely separate issue for now. Once the elections are over and it is clear what the political playing field is, Broc Soc will work with whoever is in power to ensure improvements are made to improve elements of the council's poor design and make the school a better environment for teachers and pupils alike.

Rejuvenated said...

Hallelujah! I'm off to vote! Not labour!
Then I might have a cup of cupid tea.

Anonymous said...

Re Steve Bullock's comments. I know a child who has no place and is on many waiting lists with still no luck. So you are wrong Mr Bullock not every child has a place.

We need more schools not just cramming children on sites that cannot hold them.

Tressilliana said...

See Sallykate's post on the Suggest Topic thread on this site - they have been offered a place 2.5 miles from home in Catford for a 4-year-old. Not good enough, really! Surely the LEA should have seen this shortfall coming?

Anonymous said...

The News Shopper is also running Steve Bullocks letter regarding primary school places.

On a previous page there is an article about a Lee primary school being made to double its reception class.

Brindishe Community School, in Wantage Road, Lee is being forced to take on 60 reception children in September rather than the usual 30.

Lewisham Council sent letters to parents offering places at the school.

This was even though its executive headteacher, Vicki Paterson, told the council it would not be possible to find room for them.

Ms Paterson told News Shopper: "While the outcome is a difficult one for us we will work with Lewisham Council to make it happen."

JB said...

I supported the action of the Brockley Society until I came across this blog. I'm afraid I don't want to be associated with a group of people who publically talk about others in the way they do here. The 'rabble' may be loud but they're not abusive!

Tamsin said...

@ JB Apologies if I missed it but where have Broc. Soc. been abusive on this blog?

hillbilly said...

@ Tamsin

Er.... correct me if I'm wrong but isn't everyone who lives in the conservation area a member of the brockley society?

Tamsin said...

Yes - in which respect it is different to some other amenity/conservation/local societies - but what is the relevance of that to JB's remark.

JW said...

@ Tamsin

There are several comments from supporters of the brockley society on here that are derogatory about others including members of teaching staff - some of which I'm surprised haven't be removed. We might not all agree about what should be done about the school but there's no need to make derogatory comments.

hillbilly said...

@ Tamsin

Well everyone's a member of BS so the people making the abusive comments must be members of broc soc.... simples

Brockley Nick said...

@hillbilly - that's daft.

a) the Brockley Society cannot be held accountable for comments made by everyone in the Conservation Area.

b) Not everyone in the CA supports the actions of the Brockley Society

c) Most of the people who use this site do not live in the CA and are not members of the Brockley Society

TAmsin said...

OK - although dates and times, and an indication that they are actually core Broc. Soc. rather than a separate rabble, would be illuminating. I've been sort of following as it developed and did another quick skim through and there was nothing that leapt out at me. Just the general impression than Broc. Soc. seemed to be receiving more flak than they were dishing out.

And, reassuringly, that they were talking to Lewisham and some sort of acceptable compromise was in prospect.

Another thing I noticed, though, was that one lot of plans was changing the road that the school was entered from. Not particularly fair on the residents!

marathon man said...

I was at the meeting on tuesday and didnt say anything as the atmosphere was quite intimidating.A few points--The architects when i asked them(Burgoyne i think) admitted that the the rebuild was only built to last 60 years.Lewisham council even admitted that their own plans are "poor".Lewisham design council have rubissed the plans on sustainability, pooor materials and poor design.I went to the original PFI meeting for the first proposed rebuild and Lewisham council admitted that they had not maintained the school to proper standards and that the borough as a whole has a 24 year backlog of maintenance.The school is only"not fit for purpose " if the goal posts change . The school wasnt built for 3 forms of entry so using that as a reason to knock it down seems disingenuous to say the least

Gordon Bennett said...

I think JB or JW and hillbilly are just stirring to keep this at the top or to keep the argument going. Calling people a 'rabble' while not complimentary is not hideously insulting, and by all accounts people at the meeting on Tuesday behaved rather like a rabble, it was hardly dignified.

Anonymous said...

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