Brockley magic wears off for embattled PM

Able was I ere I saw Adelaide

When even a visit to Brockley cannot revive your political fortunes, you know the game is up.

Last summer, faced with a growing economic crisis, reeling from disastrous political misjudgements and fighting to contain growing revolt in the Labour Party, Gordon Brown came to Brockley to begin his fight back.

And since that worked so well, the Prime Minister tried the same trick again today, visiting Prendergast School to launch a new education policy, aimed at giving parents greater control over the future of their children's schools.

The decision to visit a school in Lewisham, only a few hundred metres from where parents have been staging a high-profile protest against the closure of Lewisham Bridge School provided further evidence that the Party machine is not what it was.

The Standard reports:

One protester leapt in front of the Prime Minister's motorcade and had to be bundled out of the way by police as Mr Brown's car sped past.

A group of about 15 parents brandishing placards and shouting gathered outside Prendergast School in Lewisham to greet the Prime Minister.

They are unhappy at plans for a merger with Lewisham Bridge Primary School to create a new institution for 835 children aged from three to 16.

Thanks to Tressilliana.


ross said...

you've ruined the palindrome nick

Paddyom said...

Shame it emphasizes that he was visiting Lewisham and not Brockley - Prendergast School is SE4 not SE13. He was in Lewisham Borough and not the town. Wonder would the paper would have said he was visiting Lewisham if it had been a school in Blackheath instead? No wonder no-one knows where Brockley it is.

max said...

At least they didn't say that's in Ladywell as many people believe it to be.

Anonymous said...

Ahem, well, it is in Ladywell ward!

Comment said...

There's so many contentious planning situations in Lewisham it's hard to keep up.

This Lewisham Bridge school planning one appears to be in a league of its own it makes the Manor Avenue proposed nursery seem like child's play.

What are the key issues here. What are people's views on this. Is it a good thing or not and why?

Anonymous said...

Comment, there are quite a lot of comments on both the local green blogs of luxton and the other two blokes, but the greens have made their opinions clear and aren't inclined to enter into much dialogue.

I think the issue, however, is well outside the remit of any blog.

max said...

What's a blog's remit?

Anonymous said...

"the topic that a person, committee, or piece of research is expected to deal with or has authority to deal with"

max said...

Two things, first, I don't think that people should always do and speak only of things they are "expected to", and second, I don't know why a local blog should not be discussing plans around local schools.

Comment said...

Thanks I have had just had a quick read of this thread on Sue Luxton's blog.

It is complicated matter, ideological clashes on aesthetics and educational environments.

My highly superficial remarks on this. A school is needed. I have seen a pic of the existing building and it is indeed attractive. So it would be a shame to knock it down but then if it's not fit for purpose, children are more important that architecture...
But then is the purpose a 3-18 school a good idea anyway.
If it's not a good idea, what about multi sites and could the soonish to be vacated Lewisham College Tressilian site be used as a school?

Brockley Nick said...

Max, I quite agree and have been meaning to start a thread on this, but since I am happy to admit my ignorance of the issue, I was hoping to ask someone else to write a short piece discussing the issue, as the starting point for a debate. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

max said...

Nick I know, it's a very complex issue.

As Comment says it's clash of ideological, conservationists and educational environment matters, but it's also a matter of school places for secondary as well as primary schools.
It's difficult to say anything for that without some crucial data about the projection of the need for primary school places in this part of the Borough for the next few years, the expectation London-wide is that it's going up severely and if that was the case here too then it may be not such a good idea to reduce a primary when you'll need to expand it.

It would be good if the Council was pro-active in explaining their plans about those issues.

Anonymous said...

discussion is a good thing, and acting on that discussion is even better - it depends which comes first - and whether the platform for the discussion can show evidence of effective facilitation. Blogs can be effective for discussion but ineffective for action following that discussion.

Tressilliana said...

As Max says, the whole thing has taken so long to get going that the assumptions made when they were first considering where to put the new school are probably way out of date now. The LB site is a big one for a primary school but seems a bit tight for an all-through school of 800+ 3-16 year olds.

Also (as Max again says) there are a number of different concerns entwined here. I was a bit surprised to see as I passed the LB sit-in the other day to see signs saying 'No to academies, selection and trusts! No to big business taking over our schools!' or something similar.

As far as I'm aware, there is no question of any form of selection on academic ability being used to allocate places to the new school.

Also as far as I'm aware no business has taken over a single state school in the UK. There are trusts sponsored by businesspeople and perhaps also by businesses but that is not quite the same thing.

In the LB/Prendergast case there is no big business involved at all, nor is there any proposal that the new school should be an academy. It is planned that it should be a foundation school, which is still under the control of the local authority in the same way as voluntary aided schools, which is the category of school Prendergast belongs to. The Leathersellers' Company is a City Livery Company, a species of trade association with very strong charitable links and an extremely long history of involvement in education in our borough. I'm a former employeee of Prendergast as well as a former parent there, and I think the Leathersellers have been great for that school. I would have every confidence in them as backers for a new school - (I do wonder, though, how they're coping with the former Crofton, which must be a very different kettle of fish.)

If I'm going to get behind a campaign, I do feel that the facts should be correct.

patrick1971 said...

"A school is needed. I have seen a pic of the existing building and it is indeed attractive. So it would be a shame to knock it down but then if it's not fit for purpose, children are more important that architecture..."It's got classrooms with desks, chairs and blackboards. What else would a school need to make it "fit for purpose"? The building has managed to educate children for over 100 years, and surely is at least as "fit for purpose" as a modern concrete block would be.

Brockley Nick said...

Patrick1971 - you don't really mean that. Of course the needs of educational establishments have changed - IT, equipment for courses that didn't exist 100 years ago, improved facilities that teachers, children and parents alike demand, etc. All these factors place different demands on our school buildings.

Now, it may well be that an old building can be modernised to meet changing demands, but let's not get all Rhodes Boyson...

Anonymous said...

Tressilliana, why not take the time to walk down to Lewisham bridge and discuss your point of view with one of the parents who are protesting?

You're more likely to get a correct picture from their point of view by doing this.

Tressilliana said...

Well, if I had a child coming up to secondary transfer age I might, Anon. However, both my children are at secondary school now, so this is not a live issue for me any more. I used to be very involved in all this kind of thing as a governor, parent and employee and every so often I am overcome by the urge to pontificate on it, but frankly I haven't the time or the commitment to do more than that now.

Anonymous said...

I think this debate has been hi-jacked by politically motivated people.

If the through school goes ahead I believe pupils of the primary school will automatically qualify for a place at the new secondary school.

Are the parents of those children suggesting they will develop into hooligans and should be kept well away from the younger children?

A new secondary school was proposed after campaigning by councillors who now seem to take a different view. If there still is a shortage secondary places where are the pupils at Lewisham Bridge going to move onto?

When Spurles Road school closed to make way for Crossways 39 pupils ended up attending Lewisham College because there were no secondary school places.

Brockley Nick said...

The specific debate about the school's future does seem to have been confused by wider questions about education policy and other political agendas.

That's why it would be helpful to find someone who can take a dispassionate view of the pros and cons, who could write about the topic.

Anonymous said...

An unlikely request I fear Nick.

However, the debate can be easily de-politicised.

The issue now is that the school has been listed as a grade II building by English Heritage (in very small part):

“Lewisham Bridge School is an exemplar of the previous decade’s response to the same aspiration: to teach children in light clean well-ventilated surroundings. These principles are manifest in myriad elements of the school’s design. From the abundance of tiles providing easily-cleaned surfaces, to individual ventilation grilles in each classroom, to a clerestory providing extra light in the upper storey classrooms, the attention to detail at Lewisham Bridge School is noteworthy.”I'm sure if there were such a notable building in the centre of Brockley people would fight tooth and claw for it to be preserved. It being in the centre of Lewisham should not change that attitude.
It's not likely that anything built by Barratts will ever gain such attention, but lets forget Lewishams own brutalist masterpiece, the Citibank tower, anyone up for pointing that out to EH as being architecturally significant?

We have a gem in the middle of Lewisham, we should fight to keep it regardless of what it may be used for in the long-term.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, I agree that we should probably try to preserve it for some sort of use, but that doesn't answer the questions of whether it should remain a school and what sort of school(s) Lewisham needs.

Everyone keeps saying we actually need a school in the Brockley / New Cross end of Lewisham. I'd genuinely be interested to see the data that's based on and - if it is the case - whether replacing Lewisham College with a school is a viable option, particularly given that the collapse in the housing market means that its redevelopment for residential purposes may be less profitable / viable.

At the moment, given how massively oversubscribed both Prendegast and Haberdashers are, I don't understand where local teenagers go to school - or does Lewisham just expect families to go private or move out?

Tressilliana said...

When my children were at Gordonbrock, the school used to publish a list of the schools the children moved on to, with numbers. There would be about 70 children proceeding to over 20 different schools. Nowadays most of the girls there go to Prendergast. Then you'd have maybe 3 or 4 going to Aske's, and the rest would be off in their ones and twos to Knights' Academy (Aske's sibling school now), Forest Hill, Sydenham Girls', Sedgehill, Addey's, Thomas Tallis, Kidbrooke, Northbrook, Bonus Pastor, St Thomas the Apostle in Nunhead, a few independent schools and assorted state schools further afield. The very surprising thing was that so few went to what is now Prendergast Ladywell Fields College and was then Crofton. Down to 8 in the year above my son and yet it was by far the nearest school for most of the boys. I hope that the new Federation does for that school what Aske's appears to be doing for Knights' (formerly Malory School).

Tressilliana said...

Forgot Deptford Green!

Brockley Nick said...

But when I visited Prendergast recently, the head told me that they were oversubscribed by several hundred percent. And of course, it only serves girls.

The other schools you mention are absolutely miles away!

Tressilliana said...

She's perfectly right, Nick. A few years ago, when I was au fait with these things, P was always at least seven times oversubscribed. The school uses its admissions policy to allocate places - 10% go to girls with an aptitude for music, and the remaining places go to girls in care, girls with siblings at the school, girls with a very pressing medical or social reason for going to P rather than anywhere else (very few get in under this one) and the remaining places go to the girls who live nearest to the school. I don't know how far they get with that now but it wasn't as far as half a mile five or six years ago which is when I was last in touch with all that. That lets in most of the girls who go to Gordonbrock, but not nearly such a high percentage of, say, the girls from Ashmead, Myatt Garden or Brockley.

As to the other schools being 'absolutely miles away' - yes, they are. On the odd occasion I travel by bus in the rush hour in termtime, it's fascinating to see the different uniforms coming and going as the secondary school pupils set off on their long treks across the capital. I know a family living near the South Circular end of Brockley Rise whose son went to London Oratory in Fulham, and other Catholic families are apparently prepared to send their sons down to Purley. Then there are those who send their children off to Dartford or Orpington or Sutton to grammar school.

Absolute madness, the whole system.

patrick1971 said...

Nick, I had to Google Rhodes Boyson and, corporal punishment aside, I am loving his work! All good sounds stuff. The line about how his school was massively oversubscribed speaks volumes. (N.B. I don't want to start a big debate about comprehensive education here!):

'[Rhodes Boyson] opposed "progressive" teaching methods and what he perceived to be lax discipline both in modern education and in the wider society, and at Highbury Grove he introduced an unfashionably traditional regime, with strictly enforced uniforms, caning for misbehaviour, and a house system. This proved so popular with local parents that the school was consistently oversubscribed.

Boyson was a severe critic of what he regarded as the influence of "mindless sociologists" and the accompanying "mush which has corrupted the national character", noting in 1978 that "it has not gone unnoticed that crime has increased parallel with the number of social workers".'

patrick1971 said...

But, Nick, on a more serious note now, you say "Of course the needs of educational establishments have changed - IT, equipment for courses that didn't exist 100 years ago, improved facilities that teachers, children and parents alike demand, etc. All these factors place different demands on our school buildings."Okay, what might these be? IT: you need some plugs and some telephone connections. Victorian houses seem to cope with this need, why not Victorian school buildings?

What courses are there that didn't exist 100 years ago that couldn't be taught in a Victorian building? If it's gym you're talking about, build a separate gymnasium.

Improved facilities that parents and teachers "demand": again, what might these be? Students need desks and chairs. Staff need desks and a staff common room. What "demands" couldn't be accommodated by a Victorian building?

Sorry to harp on about this but I think Lewisham Council is especially cavalier about historic buildings (c.f. Forest Hill Pools) and is quite happy to rip stuff down on the grounds of "changed requirements" which don't really stand up to examination. The one thing that really springs to mind is disabled access, but, again, there are ways to cope with this in a Victorian building.

People like Victorian buildings. They like to see them, they like to live in them, they like to use them. They're solidly built and will outlast much of what's being put up now. A good building shouldn't be sacrificed just because Lewisham Council doesn't care about it.

Anonymous said...

"Miles" away, Nick?

Possibly technically true, but a typical Londoner comment nonetheless.

If I can't see it then its not local

max said...

Well, there is a serious list of very strong arguments for local schools.
You don't add to traffic congestion (including avoiding extra swarms of children up and down the buses at peak times) and families have children much more under control as they only roam locally to and fro school.
It is also likely that children that go to school locally perform better as they are less tired from commuting.
Not to mention the benefits for their parents.

Comment said...

The key thing about this debate, there is the lack of facts, data and option upon which people can make a reasonable decision. I don't whether its because the information has been gathered because it's too expensive or the that council just don't want to disseminate it.

Tressilliana said...

The council, or rather the LEA, will have lots of data about birth rates etc. I don't think Lewisham has really embraced open government yet.

Mezzer said...

What I find extraordinary is Mayor Bullock’s repeated obsessions with modernisations that are incredibly unpopular and just don’t justify the level of council bullying applied. First we had the planned demolition of Ladywell pool well before there was even going to be a replacement. Labour lost a lot of seats at the council election as a consequence of this policy and it was overturned by public opinion. At least in the short term.

Not that the Mayor seemed to pay much attention

The next target was the rather lovely Forest Hill pool. Now it’s the school. It would appear to be a sign of being in power too long that the wishes of the electorate are very much secondary to the council agenda.

Anonymous said...

Most population figures are based on census records and the last one was in 2001.

There are reports to the council on it's website that gves lots of facts and figures but finding them can prove difficult.

I found some of the most useful information regarding the council's thinking on leisure facilities by reading readings into the siting of the new school.
Just from memory Lewisham Bridge had insuffient take up of places so the yearly intake was reduced by 1 form.

So why had the numbers dropped, decreased population or parents preferred to send their children elsewhere?


Annoymous (6 May 17:45) joked about CitiTower.....err English Heritage listed Eros House, Catford.

max said...

The best thing is to ask them the figures with a Freedom of Information request, the risk is that you get the raw data and then have to make sense of them yourself, like it happened many times to the New School Campaign that needed to prove with numbers what was already known but the Council was denying, that the north of the Borough is lacking a secondary school, and to order those data is quite a big job.

Anyway, I read here that Councillors have been briefed about the effect of the listing.

Gosh, I didn't know that Eros House was listed, quite remarkable, here's an interesting article on some other recently listed buildings.

Anonymous said...

There is a march from Cornmill Gardens, assembling at 12 noon, on saturday 9th, with a rally at the Clocktower - points of view can be heard, raised and given so take the opportunity if you want answers from people who are prepared to sleep on a roof for a couple of weeks in support of *their* views.

Anonymous said...

What exactly are they complaining about? That a number of pupils who could reasonably travel to a school that can accomodate them, have to share that school with other pupils who can be accomodated?

Jesus, that's really it?

Tressilliana said...

I don't really get your point, Anon, but I think the issue is that currently Lewisham Bridge is a primary school in a building which has just been Grade II listed so can't be demolished. The council has been working on a plan to replace LB with a new school which will take children from 3-16. This necessarily involves demolishing the current building so all their plans will be on hold. However, as the listing is very recent indeed the council has forged ahead with the previous plan, the first part of which is decanting the children and bussing them to the Mornington Centre in New Cross every day while their own building stands empty. Understandably, parents do not see the sense in this.

The site isn't a very big one to accommodate a near-tripling of numbers - and that's without even taking into account the extra space the older pupils will need for science labs etc and, er, just being bigger than three-year-olds.

Anonymous said...

The brave and sensible Andrew Milton wrote:

"Clearly, the listing is a major embarrassment for Lewisham Council, and officers admitted they had got it wrong in not foreseeing that English Heritage might list the building. That lack of foresight is going to cost us dearly: financially and in terms of the delay in getting the extra secondary school places which virtually everyone agrees the north of the Borough needs."

It's a comical and outstanding oversight from sections of the Council, ie, possibly Planning, that should be well-versed in these matters. That's why they make such a pigs ear of so many issues - the Council as a whole that is - they have the air of incompetence about them. They like to play at being 'corporate' Lewisham, but they aren't really up to the job.

Tamsin said...

I don't know the details but any chance of the Council looking seriously at the perfectly viable alternative site worked out by the LEAP campaign many years ago - or would that be just too embarassing...
The problem stated then was that it would take too long to get the necessary compulsory purchase orders through - but circumstances (business and otherwise) have changed considerably over the past five years or so and it could be worth spending a bit of officer time dusting off the proposals.

Brockley Nick said...

where was the site tamsin?

Anonymous said...

To Tressalliana the listing of the building is a distraction to conceal certain peoples objectives.

This building was considered for development in 2002, 2004, 2006 and selected for the new school in 2007.

I don't recall anyone campaigning on it being a fine building to be retained.

You write as if the council took their decision knowing the school was or about to be listed, that was not the case.

I believe an independent councillor was elected in the Telegraph Hill ward on the sole policy of a need for a new secondary school in the north of the borough.

In recent years Primary schools across the borough have been decanted whilst schools have been modernised or re-built. So why do the parents of this school have a problem?

You have councillors who in 2002 to 2006 were demanding a new secondary school, now supporting action that will delay delivery to possibly 2015.

To me there are a group of people who aren't defending Lewisham Bridge school, the building or even Education in Lewisham. What they are defending is a political belief.

Anonymous said...

I think they are defending, amongst other things, the handing over of council owned land and facilities to private companies who have little regard for long-term aims, just short term profit, leaving Lewisham with a legacy which will be not one Citibank tower, but seven or eight, in a decade or two.

Anonymous said...

In a report that shortlisted 4 sites in the summer/autumn 2006 officers wrote.......

"While the criteria allowed for an opening date of September 2012 it was made clear from an educational perspective this was the least favoured option and the review should look at sites in which a new school could be delivered as soon as possible from September 2009 and no later than September 2012."

Some of the sites rejected:-

Mornington Centre, Stanley Street; Former United Diaries Site, Baring Road; Fleming House, Jordane Street - all had sites which are too small (less than 0.8 hectares)

Floating School, Pepys Estate – Planning permission would be needed from the Port of London Authority, much of the moorings are privately owned and it would present significant health and safety implications. This option has been discounted because practical difficulties are likely to be too many to overcome.

Lewisham Way / Tanners Hill, Florance Road – Has extant permission for residential development presenting significant affordability issues. The site is also too small.

Evelyn Street – Lies within the Strategic Viewing Corridor, is designated a Defined Employment Area. Although in fragmented ownership the predominant owner has also expressed objection to locating a secondary school on the site. It is felt the site presents significant affordability issues and prospects of obtaining planning permission for the site are poor.

Lewisham College – The college is still at an early stage in developing its plans for future accommodation needs, which would need approval by the Learning and Skills Council. Because the time frame is unclear it is considered this site could not be ready within the timescales set out.

Convoys Wharf – Although a Section 106 agreement to build a primary school on the site is being negotiated it is felt building a secondary school in addition would cause significant issues with regard to the scope of the development, deliverability and timescales. Work is not due to start on site until 2008/2009 and the fourth phase of development would not be completed until 2016/17.

max said...

Here's a very interesting answer that the Mayor gave in June 2005 about the Evelyn Street site. LINK

Anonymous said...

Annon (7 May @ 22:57)

Doesn't that confirm those people have first and foremost in their minds other issues rather than the education of pupils attending Lewisham Bridge?

Anonymous said...

anon 08 May 2009 00:21

No, I don't think so, it confirms that issues are always multi-layered. Why not speak to the people yourself - there will be good accessibility on Saturday 9th - then you'll know what they think and if you have a differing point of view you can put it to them and get a response

Tamsin said...

Yep, looking at who was asking the question and the overal tenor of the reply it was the Evelyn Street site that was the one I was thinking of. And it was Helen LeFevre who was elected as a Councillor in Telegraph Hill Ward on the ticket of promoting this one rather than the Council preferred alternatives.

Given that with the Regeneration Option now being pushed by the Council this area is - if I understand it right - being made over almost entirely to dormitory housing they have rather undermined their own argument about the need to maintain employment opportunities.

Look at it again for a school.

Anonymous said...

Anon (08 May 2009 08:59)

Certain people wish to make the issue appear 'multi-layered' to conceal what's at the core of their thinking.

Having read the leaflets and websites each layer has a 'NO' attached to it, thus one 'NO' means 'NO' to all the layers.

Former Deputy Mayor Gavin Moore said a new school could never be built on the site because it would put at risk Lewisham Gateway.

He was shown to be wrong but we now have his then political opponents wanting prove he was right.

Anonymous said...

ah yes 08 May 2009 12:04

Mention of Gavin Moore shows that you have an agenda on this subject...

max said...

Tamsin, actually LEAP(Local Education Action by Parents) and their successful candidate Helen LeFevre weren't asking for a school in that specific location, only for a secondary school in a suitable location in the north of the borough.
Only later going through the possible sites that one came out as a particularly strong candidate but when Lewisham Bridge was agreed many people thought that it was an acceptable compromise.
Now with the listing of Lewisham Bridge I think that the Council would do well to revisit that proposal, and considering the emerging need for more primary school places it could even work out cheaper for the Council to buy a site for the new secondary somewhere other than Lewisham Bridge and have the option to expand Lewisham Bridge Primary in the current building rather than to have to think of a new Primary somewhere else.
So, yes a delay, but the Council is in the position to minimize it and in the long run it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Anonymous said...

If you take into consideration the proposals for Convoy Wharf and the 23 storey building planned for the Cannon Buisness Centre, would the landowner at Evelyn Street even contemplate selling part of the site for a school?

Do Law 2380 still own the site, does anyone know who they are?

If the need for a new school is urgent (well it was in 2004) won't the council plump for s site it owns, isn't Ladywell Leisure Centre the most likely option?

Or....will the Mayor go through the process of appealing against the Listing and if that fails kick the school into touch till after the local elections in 2010?

max said...

Sure, the Ladywell Leisure Centre must be passing through many people's minds and there's not much to say other than hoping for the best.

But it would be the most clear show of ineptitude and elections are only one year away so possibly it's not the most likely option, at least not before elections.
"I'm sorry I messed up so I close the pool after all but vote for me" how does that sound?

The Mayor said they will ask for permission to demolish Lewisham Bridge regardless of the listed status, I don't know anything about these matters but intuitively I think that they have a serious claim so that may go through. In the meantime they can think of plan b or c or d or whatever letter we reached now.

Evelyn Street's site owners, whoever they are, are I believe still in possession of a designated employment area, not a residential site, so its current value is not really exorbitant and if the Council could demonstrate a "compelling case in the public interest" then they could buy it through a CPO.

Lewisham College could be quite an option now though. It was originally rejected because it wasn't clear what the college was deciding but the situation is much clearer now.

Anonymous said...

the Council is clear in it's policies towards listed buildings:

Buildings are now listed directly by English Heritage for their special historical or architectural interest. Listed buildings are physical survivals of the past which should be valued and protected for their unique special interest.

They are not replaceable and once demolished or insensitively altered their special interest and their contribution to the historic environment is gone forever.

The Council therefore has a duty to preserve listed buildings, their features of special interest and their settings for future generations.

Anonymous said...

So we can expect the modern main entrance to be removed?

Anonymous said...

The Council therefore has a duty to preserve listed buildings, their features of special interest and their settings for future generations.I'm sure the people of Lewisham are grateful Eros House, Catford has been valued and protected by the Council for generations to come.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Evelyn Street I could not find an application to change it's use from employment to residential.

How about Deptford Park Primary School, if the council owns other parcels of land on that block could they not be bundled together to create a site for a new school?

Regarding Lewisham College has anyone checked if there is a covenent that the land has to be used for educational purposes?

CPO's can be long drawn out affairs.

Considering there is no apparent public clamouring for secondary school places, maybe the whole idea of a new school could be dropped?

Tressilliana said...

Anon, I don't know where you get the idea that there is no public clamouring for secondary school places. It's nearly five years now since we were going through the secondary transfer process for our son, so maybe I've lost touch, but I don't think parents are finding it significantly easier than they were to find places for their children in good local schools.

I found this by googling - several years out of date now, but given that the number of primary-aged children is apparently on the increase, if anything the position looks set to get worse rather than better:

Anonymous said...

What doesn't seem to have been addressed here is that Lewisham Bridge is not a school that performs well. It has been rated Ofsted 3 and has a history of never being fully subscribed, despite the shortage of primary school places in Lewisham, because people simply don't want to send their children there. As a result, some of the remaining places get taken up by people new to the country, travellers, people who didn't manage to get their applications in on time, etc, and a vicious circle begins.
LB is our nearest school and we were terrified that our daughter would have to go there. We were very pleased when they reduced the intake from 60 to 30 at primary because it meant that despite it being our nearest school, we were still too far away for her to get in! (ridiculous in itself, but it worked in our favour). It is a failing school with a lack of positive leadership. I visited the school twice when I was considering which schools to apply to and was told by the lady showing me around - the person chosen to be the spokesperson for the school - that 'the truth of the matter is, LB will never be a good school because of the demographic'. Well, no, it certainly won't with that attitude because people like me will send their children there over their dead bodies. You only need to look at schools like John Stainer to see how a good leader can turn a problematic school around.
That's why I think the intervention of the Leathersellers and the executive headship of Erika Pienaar, who has done such a fine job at Prendergast, is necessary, whether or not the building stays.

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