Haberdashers' Aske's plans Free Primary school

As posted by TH Nick on the New Cross forum, Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College hopes to open a new Primary 'Free' School on the school estate, serving children aged 4-11. Called Hatcham Temple Grove Free School, the aspiration is to open the school in September 2013 and to reach a capacity of 420 pupils by 2020.

The area already has some excellent primary schools, but places are in short supply.

If the plan proceeds, it would serve as a feeder for the secondary school, for which places are already highly coveted. In a leaflet which describes their plans, they say:

As in our existing very successful primary phase (Hatcham Temple Grove), an emphasis on phonics, reading and numeracy will underpin the curriculum. HTG Free School will share curriculum resources with HTG and Hatcham College. The curriculum will be based on the International Primary Curriculum and will be taught in two languages. Children will learn to be proficient in a second language.

There will be a consultation meeting on Monday, 16 January. Presentations will be held at: 5:30pm and 7pm at  Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College, Pepys Road, New Cross, SE14 5SF.


Bridget McKenzie said...

Quite confusing. The leaflet suggests there will be two primary schools, the existing Hatcham Temple Grove and a new HTG free school. I guess what this means is that when the old burned Monson building in Hatcham is restored, HTG mk 1 will return there and HTG mk II/free will occupy the (squeezed) space on the secondary school sites, currently acting as temporary housing for HTG mk1. This could potentially mean two primaries absorbing Telegraph Hill intake, which didn't exist before when Monson was only serving Hatcham ward. It also potentially increases the numbers going straight through to Askes secondary, which is tough on Edmund Waller and other local primaries. There was significant opposition to the Monson takeover because it was so unfair to children more local to Askes, if 60 children could automatically get in. Lewisham overruled our opposition saying it would serve disadvantaged children in Hatcham. But if the intake to pre-Askes primaries is opened up to Telegraph Hill, it goes against that original mission. I'd love to be more enlightened. Who knows more?

Anonymous said...

That will be the International Primary Curriculum that is sponsored by the SHELL OIL GROUP - they teach us about the environment st all, what a joke , this is being adapted in Tidemill Academy now and it is all about Business, the blarney is that it is used in 65 countries in over 100 schoools (probably exploited communities too) but a real fact is that there is over 14,000 schoools in the UK alone - you do the maths and we can see that this is a complete charlatans approach to Education, hence people like Mark Elms at Tidemill will use it , Wondser what the teachers are saying about this ???

Brockley Nick said...

Anon, link please

Bridget McKenzie said...

Interesting to hear about International Curriculum being sponsored by Shell. It occurs to me that perhaps they want to create an elite primary, attracting the middle class Telegraph Hill types, to balance with the growing intake from disadvantaged areas, which I suppose is seen as threatening a lowering of standards. Is that stating the obvious?

Anonymous said...

I suggest you speak to Richard Graham at Tidemill Deputy Head Directlyn about this he is it's champion, the information is definatly Correct. I have hard copies in front of me.
its thin on content but in Black n white with his endorsement on it and Elmsie of course.

Brockley Nick said...

Firstly, full disclosure, Shell is a client of my employer.

Secondly, that sounded like an implausible story to me, so I Googled "International Curriculum Shell" and found this:

"The International Primary Curriculum was originally developed by the Shell Oil Company for its schools overseas and is now used extensively at primary level in over 1,300 international schools throughout the world, 1000 of those in the UK alone. The curriculum was created to grapple with the problem of transient students who missed out of large amounts of material every time they changed schools.
The resulting topic-based curriculum is taught in pre-packaged formulated lesson plans so students can go from school to school and not miss a beat. Yet, in keeping with the close attention paid to the way emotional states affect learning, the material can be innovative and often fun.
Focusing on three standards - academic, personal development, international mindedness, the theory is that teaching through topics provides a creative system that opens up learning. The core subjects - science, mathematics, history, art, language, geography, and more - are all taught through topics, each one lasting two to six weeks."


See also the Times Educational Supplement:

A privately developed curriculum designed for multinational oil giant Shell has been adopted by 1,000 schools.

Lypiatt Primary School in Wiltshire has become the latest to adopt the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), which uses themed teaching and was originally developed for the 15 English and Dutch-speaking international schools run by the conglomerate.

The IPC is one of only a handful of independently developed curricula. The only other that had reached national recognition is the Opening Minds initiative by the RSA.

Each school spends about £10,000 to sign up to the IPC and then £1,000 a year subscription.

The curriculum is used in 65 countries - including Malaysia, Qatar and Japan. England now has 727 schools using the IPC compared with 150 three years ago...

The IPC became increasingly popular in England in 2003 after the Labour government published a strategy encouraging schools to be more creative with the curriculum.

As it took off, Ofsted praised some schools which used the curriculum, and in 2009, when Hampstead Norreys CofE School in West Berkshire came top of the league tables, headteacher Alex Butler said the IPC was key to her pupils' success.

But it has not been without its critics. One teacher on the TES Connect forum said that it was being expensive, loosely planned and particularly unsuitable for key stage 1 children.


So it doesn't sound like they are "sponsoring" it, they just developed it to serve the families of their engineers around the world.

Feel free to show me otherwise - I'm interested for the sake of clarity.

Bridget McKenzie said...

There are lots of links online explaining how the IPC was developed by Shell for its schools for its international workers. As an education consultant, I'd endorse its pedagogy. It's hard to know quite how much financial support there is from Shell to continue delivery of the IPC. Perhaps not very much. Much as I dislike oil companies & their dominance, I'm not sure it's a key issue with the Askes free school plans. One link here about Shell schools: http://www.tes.co.uk/Upload/Attachments/TES/2687419/Teaching%20in%20Shell%20School%20information.pdf

Brockley Nick said...

"I'm not sure it's a key issue with the Askes free school plans."

Understatement of the year ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that Nick - Dont get me wrong the curriculum does need changing but I would like to see more EVIDENCE and less businees powerpoint talk - it seem lacking
Interesting that Academies are PAYING for it though?

location, location said...

wonder if this will affect house prices.

Anonymous said...

what would be the catchment area for this school? would it go as far as brockley station?

Tamsin said...

If they are going to keep a primary school on the Pepys Road site after the Monson fire damage is finally dealt with that is a marked change from earlier assurances. I understood that the portakabins, installation of a playground in the front of the building and the new and fencing in appropriate to the conservation area were all pushed through planning on the basis of urgent need and that the changes were only temporary.

It will also make permanent the traffic problems caused around that fairly busy roundabout at drop of and collection times.

Bridget McKenzie said...

Good points Tamsin. Also, both Jerningham & Pepys sites are too crowded. They have such a massive playing field but most of their playtimes, they're squeezed into tiny outdoor passages. If they're planning a more permanent primary building(s), I can't see how they would fit in.

Transpontine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Transpontine said...

This sounds like a done deal, as they are already appealing to parents of young children to register an interest. I doubt if Lewisham had any role in this, as Askes have a direct line to Gove and his advisors and no doubt have a green light to do what they want.

There are increasing numbers of young children in this part of London and since Gove has cut school capital programme neither Lewisham or anybody else can easily build new places. As Bridget says, the temporary primary accommodation put in place to replace fire-damaged Temple Grove (creepy masonic name, ex-Monson) will presumably be used for the new school once TG1 reopens.

How suitable this temporary accommodation is I don't know. If I was a parent of a young child I would want reassurance that there was good outdoor play freely accessible to children throughout the day as that is a minimal standard for good quality nursery educatio.

The new school is bound to have a negative impact on neighbouring schools, particularly Waller, as aspirational Telegraph Hill parents are bound to flock to new school on the basis of a guaranteed secondary school place at HAHC. Essentially they are likely to cream off the most affluent and well-supported kids - and hey presto get great results - resulting in less of a social mix at other schools.

Don't know much about IPC but it is clear that the school is appealing to the commonly held misconception that a good school is one in which children are tidy and docile and there is a main focus on the three Rs.

As they say 'an emphasis on phonics, reading and numeracy will underpin the curriculum... Our ethos is based upon traditional
values, mutual respect and opportunity. This can be seen in many ways through our motto ‘serve and obey’, our uniform' etc.

Sounds like something Gove himself could have written. The idea of obedience as a virtue in itself went out the window with Nuremburg trials didn't it? Children need to be encouraged to think critically not simply obey. In my totally unbiased personal opinion!

Tressilliana said...

Whenever we come across the serve and obey motto it has to be barked in a dalek voice.

I'd be fascinated to know if the guaranteed transfer to the senior school at 11 has affected the demographics in the immediate vicinity of the Temple Grove/Monson site. It would certainly have made me think twice about where to live when my children were approaching Reception age.

Bridget McKenzie said...

I totally share your unbiased personal opinion, Transpontine. As you know, it was partly because the Serve & Obey motto was so fully enacted in practice and not just some anachronistic hangover that we withdrew from Askes. From what I've heard about Temple Grove, the imposition of the Askes culture and secondary school teaching approaches are having a negative impact. There's a lack of differentiated support for the neediest children and there's worsening behaviour.

JM said...

When I attended the school, the focus was on the other motto "amor vincit omnia" - that seems to have gone totally out of the window.
As a parent of primary school age children, I am concerned about the impact on local schools and if I were a prospective parent of the free school, I would be horrified by the lack of play space - not only for primary aged children but also the impact on the secondary phase.
The name thing is bonkers too - 3 schools sites with the same names - the free school allegedly with different entrance requirements / rights for the secondary phase.

Lou Baker said...


Our schools are rotten, one has been wrecked by fire and yet the conservation police are most worried about a portacabin and a bit of traffic at 3pm.

I'd take issue with the notion that our local schools are good. When I looked round for my kids it was clear they are all extremely average - at best.

They don't push their pupils to excel. They aim to make their students average - and that's because so many of their students start below average. And this is the parents' fault.

Why shouldn't middle class families expect the best for their kids? If you read to your kids, if you teach them the joy of learning, if you open their eyes to new experiences - and if you are paying your taxes as well, contributing to the system - why should you not expect the system to deliver your child with an excellent education?

Answer: you should expect an excellent system.

But you do not get one. You are thwarted by do-gooders who spout on endlessly about 'disadvantaged families' and who use poverty as an excuse for poor parenting.

Good luck to the new school. I hope it aspires to
excellence in a way other local schools just don't.

Brockley Nick said...

@lou - I agree with you about Tamsin's traffic and conservation concerns. I thoroughly disagree with your analysis of local primaries and what they strive for. Which schools are you talking about? As a parent of children at Myatt Garden, I am delighted. And if Haberdashers attracted a few more of the TH parents, then perhaps MG would have a catchment area bigger than a few hundred metres.

Bridget McKenzie said...

Tressiliana: as far as I know, access to Temple Grove is only for people living in the original Monson catchment in the Hatcham area. The distance from home is measured from Camplin street, well out of Telegraph Hill. However, if applications are low, places may be available for people living nearer to its temporary home in the Askes Pepys road site. You can see the changing demographics around the catchment point of Askes (top of Pepys) if you hang out at the Hill Station. If anything, it's getting even more arty and bohemian, so I'm not sure how much taste there is for the 'serve and obey' culture.

Tamsin said...

The school was wrecked by fire (I think three years ago now) and things had to be done urgently so fair enough that the usual planning restrictions went out of the window. The conservation area concerns were not raised then for that very reason.

However, with the prospect of the Monson Road site being restored to school use AND the temporary measures of shoe-horning a primary school into the Senior school site being made permanent it is reasonable to raise such concerns.

And not only from the point of view of the extremely ugly portakabins remaining for the rest of their useful life, but also the concerns for child safety around the traffic issues and whether appropriate play facilities can be made available on what is a very crowded senior school site.

Others have put their finger on the problem - with the prospect of a guaranteed place in the senior school the children of aspirational parents will be bled off into this new venture and Edmund Waller and John Stainer - now both excellent schools, and with fantastic large primary age orientated playgrounds, big halls, big classrooms, space for after school and breakfasts clubs etc. - will suffer.

And so will all the children - except in the rebuilt school on Monson Road.

Tamsin said...

Looking at the leaflet available on the link the catchment area (after the children in special need and siblings etc.) is calculated by distance from two "nodes" - the gates of the senior school sites, i.e. Pepys Road by the roundabout and the bottom of Jerningham.

Stick two pins into the map on those points - a bit of string and a biro and draw yourself an ellipse.

Bridget McKenzie said...

In other words, Tamsin, the catchment area for the new free school (compared to Monson/Temple Grove) will be massive. If it aims to be 420 pupils, that's a fairly large primary, 2 form entry.

Tamsin said...

I'm guessing that is how in practice it would work - what they actually say is:

"The HTG Free School will operate a dual nodal address point system. The 1st node is the Academy’s main building entrance on Pepys Road. The 2nd node is the Academy’s main
building entrance on Jerningham Road. The applicant’s address will be measured to their nearest node."

And it is nearly half a mile between the two schools.

Bridget McKenzie said...

A mad thought: You don't think they're talking to Edmund Waller about a takeover? I just can't figure it out. There just isn't any space for a 420 pupil school on HATC sites, without building upwards.

Tamsin said...

There are about five current primary schools the same sort of distance from joint senior sites.

On the other hand - it's on their "estate" - do you think it might be in Downham or Crayford...

Lou Baker said...

@ nick

I don't know about Myatt Gardens.

For my kids I looked around John Stainer - an average school masquerading as good. Waller - a poor school, masquerading as good. And Hollydale - in
Nunhead - between the two.

I was amazed any of these schools got good Ofsted ratings. None had any of the oomph I would expect every school to have. I pity parents who are locked in to this failed system.

I, of course, did the sensible thing and sent my kids private. If you think any of the local schools are good I'd urge you to have a conversation with an independently educated 5 year old - and marvel how many teenagers in the state system haven't achieved such eloquence.

Anonymous said...

anonymous: what about the Crossways site?

Tamsin said...

Mmm. Yes, that did pass through my mind - Brockley Central reincarnated.

But although Tony Bravo has taken his charisma elsewhere surely it is too soon to write off the whole college.

Local mummy said...

As a parent with children at Askes ( secondary phase) and a younger one about to start primary school I am elated at this option of a new school. My children have been well looked after and educated by Askes and I would be very happy to send the littlest one there too. The school system sucks in London and surely every parent wants what they perceive to be the best for their child. For me, Askes in my experience is a brilliant option.

Anonymous said...

Yes Lou, the application of money does seem to work wonders.

Anonymous said...

"marvel how many teenagers in the state system haven't achieved such eloquence"

like yourself.

Bridget McKenzie said...

Obviously HAHC secondary is an excellent school, very focused on results. Lots of people are happy and thriving there. However, lots of children find it doesn't suit them. It is really not good for children with dyslexia, autism, high levels of creativity, challenging personality, ADHD, or a strong need to be independent in their learning. These children aren't 'wrong' or failed by their parents. They need learning that suits them. Askes is very homogenising. Its ethos is to prepare children for office work. If the Federation grows to absorb more and more schools, including primaries, this homogenisation spreads. Michael Gove is currently ploughing ahead with a forced Academies programme, where 200 struggling schools, including primaries, are being taken over by other Federations like Askes or companies, against their will. One of these, Downhills, at this moment is holding a public meeting to express their outrage at such a failure of democracy and due process. Liz Sidwell, Chief Commissioner for schools, ex-CEO of Askes until 2011, is a lead agent in this programme. She promotes the notion of primaries being run by secondaries, with specialist subject teachers delivering in primary classrooms, although the benefits are entirely unproven. She also promotes the improvements made at Hatcham Temple Grove following its takeover by Askes, but the evidence is lacking. If this primary had been supported with extra funds & local authority support, combined with continued support for community wellbeing, there could have been improvements just as significant as there are supposed to have been under Askes management. What I've heard from sources with good knowledge of the school is that behaviour and performance by children with special needs & challenges is now worse than it was before.

Transpontine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brockley Nick said...


"Its ethos is to prepare children for office work."

I think that is an unfair suggestion.

Groovy Templar said...

@Brockley Nick '"Its ethos is to prepare children for office work." I think that is an unfair suggestion'.

Maybe a bit, kids from there go off and do all kinds of things, but how many Sixth Forms make their students wear business suits as HAHC do?

Transpontine said...

@Bridget: 'A mad thought: You don't think they're talking to Edmund Waller about a takeover? I just can't figure it out. There just isn't any space for a 420 pupil school on HATC sites, without building upwards'.

No I think they are talking about accommodating it on current secondary site, as with current temporary ex-Monson. Their leaflet says: 'The primary school, to be known as Hatcham Temple Grove Free
School (HTG Free School), will be co-located on the existing Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College estate'.


Despite my criticisms of Askes overall pedagogical approach, I am sure if they do go ahead with this it will be at least a good enough school. If there is a need for additional spaces - and there may well be - it could be a lot worse than here. I do wonder how they can provide enough space, particlularly outdoor space, to make it work properly in the long term though.

So I am neutral overall. It's a separate issue but I do disagree with the notion that an Askes primary will magically be more excellent than other local primaries, slightly biased as I am as an ex-governor of Edmund Waller. In a climate where schools are competitively judged against each other, Askes will clearly have an unfair advantage in being able to guarantee a secondary school place.

I'm still unclear about whether they will have a nursery class or not - I think not. Although the HAHC leaflet talks about a 3-18 school it then says it will be starting with a reception class (4+).

So future HAHC parents get your names down for (really excellent) Chelwood Nursery School so at least they will have a creative start to their education ;-)

hand rubber said...

Bottom line. Is this going to put the value of my house up?

Bridget McKenzie said...

It may sound unfair that I'm characterising their ethos as such, but that's our experience. Our daughter had school phobia there. She would have panic attacks, be sick, not sleep, not eat, not be able to face going in. We were told that she had to do what she was told, submit to the sanctions regime & strict uniform etc because the school aimed to prepare young people for work in offices. Obviously, we were encouraging her to 'submit' but she became too sick to carry on. You can see from their website/prospectus, that their ethos is uniform, hard work and discipline and preparing children for work. No other ethical statements are made, apart from to reinforce those key points.

Anonymous said...

to be fair I want that ethos in a school.

Brockley Nick said...

I get it. They're strict. Possibly humourless. But are you're telling me they are not interested in children who want to grow up to be archaeologists, entrepreneurs or actors? They do, after all, operate a music scholarship system, which I think it ridiculous, but does at least show that they value things other than clerical skills.

Lou Baker said...

"We were told that she had to do what she was told, submit to the sanctions regime & strict uniform etc"

You don't think kids should do what they're told at school? Seriously. It's no wonder so many of our schools are messed up when parents say something like this and expect to be taken seriously.

Tressilliana said...

Rafe Spall went to Aske's and he is doing very nicely as an actor. It probably helps to have a very successful actor as a father, but still.

When Aske's was unable to offer my son a place because we live more than 140 metres away, I was sorry but not devastated. I have (admittedly a good few years back now) heard many parents express reservations of various kinds. Maybe I just mixed with the wrong parents but I didn't often meet one whose child had gone there and who couldn't speak highly enough of the place.

Bridget McKenzie said...

Maybe I'm characterising it a little emotively but our experience was recent & traumatic. The teachers are of course open to preparing students for all kinds of careers, but there is an emphasis on academic/secretarial skills for urban/sedentary/professional types of work. Music fits seamlessly into the culture because it's the easiest of the arts to deliver in an academic and abstract way, with a focus on virtuosity within a canon. Askes isn't alone but it is an extreme case. Most secondary schools (apart from rare exceptions, usually not in this country) are too focused on preparing young people for work, without enough prediction of what kinds of competencies young adults will need to thrive in a time of emerging crises. Also, most secondary schools don't handle the transition from primary very well at all. The ones that handle it well, like Deptford Green, prolong what works about primary school. The ones that handle it badly, like Askes, believe in introducing secondary teachers into primary schools. I feel as if I'm speaking very out of turn. I don't mean any disrespect for the many wonderful teachers at Askes. My criticism is aimed at the management and ethos, within a political context which is highly troubling.

Tamsin said...

A respected, eccentric, dedicated and New-Year-honoured head of music, who has been in the school for years if not decades, is also probably a reason for not moving away from offering music scholarships or emphasising that aspect of what is offered by the school, despite the underpinning ethos changing around him.

Bridget McKenzie said...

@LouBaker You've just taken one of my sentences out of context. I was describing a situation in which we were told, rather patronisingly, that she must follow the rules. We agreed with them that she must. I go on to say that 'obviously we encouraged her to submit'. However, we generally encourage her to raise questions if a task makes no sense or is boring, or if a sanction is too cruel or demotivating. This is what she did, or wanted to do, but she is also very sensitive and was frightened of being singled out or punished. I would have been happy her staying at the school but she was too unwell and once she was removed, we couldn't return. I'm not asking for sympathy but telling our story to underline how I think secondary schools need to be much more supportive, human scale and cater for different personalities.

Tressilliana said...

I don't think you mean music scholarships, Nick. They admit 10% of their intake of 11-year-olds on the basis of musical aptitude, which I think Prendergast Hilly Fields does as well. The reason for assessing aptitude rather than attainment is supposed to ensure that children who've already reached Grade 8 in three instruments and therefore come from wealthy families don't get all the places. In theory a talented but untrained singer could get a place ahead of a well-drilled Suzuki violinist with little natural ability. I've no idea how well this works out in practice.

Brockley Nick said...

"Most secondary schools (apart from rare exceptions, usually not in this country) are too focused on preparing young people for work,"

That will come as news to many employers who complain that far too few people emerge from the British school system equipped with the skills or the character for work.

Being fit for the world of work is not to be sniffed at. Nor is it incompatible with being creative, free-spirited, or any of those other good things.

Brockley Nick said...


"I don't think you mean music scholarships, Nick. They admit 10% of their intake of 11-year-olds on the basis of musical aptitude,"

Thank you for correcting me. That's what I meant.

"The reason for assessing aptitude rather than attainment is supposed to ensure that children who've already reached Grade 8 in three instruments and therefore come from wealthy families don't get all the places. In theory a talented but untrained singer could get a place ahead of a well-drilled Suzuki violinist with little natural ability. I've no idea how well this works out in practice."

But why is selection by musical ability OK, when selection by, say, maths, English or carpentry isn't?

Either you have selection or you don't. Why musical ability should be singled out in this way is never clear, except, of course, it's a handy way for schools to skew the intake to get a greater proportion of academically gifted children from supportive, motivated families.

Let us not pretend otherwise.

Bridget McKenzie said...

Nick, I meant to say that secondary schools want to prepare their pupils for work, often care very much about doing so, but are too bound by an exam system and curriculum which is either irrelevant to the current and emerging needs of work (including employment, enterprise, being a carer etc) or if it is a more vocational system (e.g. BTECs) the experience can be really uninspiring.

Tressilliana said...

Completely agree, Nick. Addey's used to take 10% of its intake on aptitude for technology. I have no idea how this was suppose to differ from being generally bright as it was apparently assessed by performance in a non-verbal reasoning test. This may be why they didn't keep that criterion for long.

Aske's old admissions policy, which was very difficult indeed to grasp but oddly seemed to favour bright, well-behaved children, also used to have an element assessing aptitude for technology. Strangely, when they switched to prioritising siblings and children who lived nearby their GCSE results fell by 20% in a year.

Lou Baker said...

Work is a reality of life.

Those schools which don't prepare kids for work are not doing their job properly.

The alternative is to prepare kids for a life on benefits - which helps no one.

Now I agree that the type of work people will do varies dramatically. Office work does not suit all. Nor does plumbing, or singing, or sport.

A school's job is to give everyone a proper grounding in the basics and then to encourage them to fully develop their skills in the area that interests them most.

All with the proper support - and backing - of parents too .

Paul Bell said...

Would Telegraph Hill Ward residents please get in touch with me to let me know whether they support this free school or not?

As Telegraph Hill Councillors we want to be informed by what our residents think before deciding what to do. I have to say I am opposed to free schools on an ideological point, but I want resident views.

However, the biggest problem is linking the admission policy with attending the new free school, as this could put pupils at John Stainer, Kender, Turnham and St James Hatcham at a disadvantage.

Please email your comments to: cllrpaul.bell@lewisham.gov.uk


Vesta Curry said...

I'm fascinated by Lou Baker ... incidental clues hint at someone in their 30s or 40s ... And yet ... the attitude, the blurred and worn wisdom, the crooked and battered sense of hurt, the exhaustion disguised by the odd flash of fighting spirit - all hint at a nodding man next to an inglenook fireplace deep in the countryside - well into his 80s ... and talking to himself.

Margot said...

They have a dreadful selection of vegan soy-free meals as well don't they Bridget?

Brockley Nick said...


"I have to say I am opposed to free schools on an ideological point,"

You can't leave it hanging there like Fermat's last theorem... what's your ideological opposition?


Brilliant! What hilarious satire!

Bridget McKenzie said...

@margot I'm sorry to disappoint you but I eat meat

Paul Bell said...

I am opposed to free schools on principle as the best education system is one that is planned on a national level, to the needs and skills of the economy, democracy and free thinking irrespective of a child's background. Free schools are a Tory policy designed to even more fragment our education system away from a state system. It is reinventing elitist education and grammar schools all over again; wasting the potential of those people who did not pass one exam at one point in time. We are yet again going backwards and fighting battles of the past.

Does that answer your question?

However, I want to get the views of Telegraph Hill ward residents as I am their representative first and foremost.

Brockley Nick said...


"I am opposed to free schools on principle as the best education system is one that is planned on a national level, to the needs and skills of the economy, democracy and free thinking irrespective of a child's background."

I'm not sure this is a "principled" argument, so much as an argument in favour of "what works". And I'm not sure it's right. The evidence is mixed, but the weight of evidence would seem to contradict your assertions.

I'd urge you to read this article, based on a review of evidence from schools systems around the world (full disclosure: The Economist is a client of mine). If you do value efficacy, as you say, then it ought to give you pause for thought:


"Of the four chief elements of schools reform, diversity of supply is by far the most striking. From New York to Shanghai to Denmark, schools free of government control and run by non-state providers are adding quality to the mix. To date, they seem most successful where the state has been unwilling or unable to make a difference. It is still not clear whether creating archipelagoes of Free Schools and charter schools will consistently drive improvement in other institutions, or whether that is wishful thinking."

PS - the idea that the best way to ensure a free-thinking and democratic culture is through top-down, centralised command and control seems contradictory, to say the least.

Bridget McKenzie said...

Here are some arguments against free schools

and arguments for them

The main argument given for them is that free schools can provide good schools for families too poor to move to where there are good schools. But this makes two big assumptions: One, that the Free Schools will be 'good'. Two, that they will largely be located where poor children live.

Paul Bell said...

@Brockley Nick not top down but guided by national priorities and planned so that all out children succeed.

I don't think we will agree but I will have a look at the Economist article.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine went to Askes. Last job he had was caretaker in a private school.

Brockley Nick said...

@Paul - education shouldn't be a political football.

Children are all different, why shouldn't there be a range of different types of schools to suit their needs?

We've already heard from parents who felt one type of state school was wrong for their children - are they wrong?

By the way, the national curriculum was a Tory initiative, opposed by the Labour Party at the time, was it not? Now you're acting as though top down control of state school education is a defining socialist principle, being betrayed by wicked Tories.

Lou Baker said...

@Paul bell

You appear to be opposed because it is a Tory idea and not because it is a bad one. Hardly principled opposition.

I am in favour of good schools. I care not whether it is branded free, or comprehensive, or grammar, or academy. I care that it is good. That is what parents want. A good local school.

That is why your opposition to grammar schools is misplaced and wrong. They were - and in places still are - the best form of mass education and the best way to improve social mobility among the disadvantaged. Something Labour has never done as well as the Tories.

The only problem with the grammar system was the blight of the secondary modern. But rather than fixing that specific issue the country foolishly scrapped the bit of the system that worked too.

Give the new school a chance. It might help you release your inner Tory.

Paul Bell said...

@Brockley Nick, we are not going to agree and no one said eduction is a game of political football. It is not about left or right but what is right. I have my views that a state education is better than a market and you have your views. However, Brockley Central is an eduation in itself!

Bridget McKenzie said...

The Economist article is well researched but doesn't make a clear argument in my view. There's a lot which accords with my experience of what makes successful schools. It says the keys to success include: investing in teachers development; giving attention to underachieving pupils; experimenting with different pedagogies; starting secondary school at 13. It also says that both for-profit and not-for-profit models can work; that decentralised schools work best in areas where the local/state authorities had really given up; and that introducing new kinds of schools isn't a guarantee of success. Educationalists have been arguing for more freedom and diversity since the introduction of the National Curriculum and other constraints. Diversity & freedom aren't guaranteed here in the way that the Government is introducing Academies and Free Schools. Askes Federation's expansion of its empire combined with Govt encouragement of other schools to be like Askes, or Mossbourne, and not to mention clearing the way for Faith Schools to run free schools, isn't necessarily bringing freedom and diversity.

Brockley Nick said...

@Paul - unless you abolish private education, faith schools and parental choice, we already have a market in that parents and kids can choose from multiple suppliers, so what's the difference?

[You didn't answer this question: We've already heard from parents who felt one type of state school was wrong for their children - are they wrong?]

And I don't have any strong views on this question, other than that evidence-based policy is better than dogma-based policy.

Still, you sound very open minded about the matter and I am sure you will strictly represent the views of your constituents in this matter ;)

Brockley Nick said...

@Bridget - it makes a clear argument, I think, what it doesn't do is suggest there are easy answers, just that some of the dogmas that define the debate about public education are deeply flaweed. That's the point, really.

Paul Bell said...

@Brockley Nick, no it is not for me to tell parents they are wrong.

Right I'm off to bed!

Tamsin said...

What effect has the primary school on site had on the senior school? A primary school playground is very noisy - a happy noise but noisy - has anyone got children of secondary age in Aske's who can say how they react to the presence of Temple Grove?

Also how many children are currently at Temple Grove to compare with the prospective 420 pupils of the new school?

Bridget McKenzie said...

Nick and Paul. As I was one who said our child was unhappy at Askes, I'll just comment on that point. I disagree with the very notion of choosing a school from a diverse range to suit your child's interests and personality. The ideal for me is widespread provision of intimate, flexible, creative, local and inclusive secondary schools that support children to develop their own individuality and manage their own learning. The idea of secondaries specialising vey narrowly and aiming to churn out a particular kind of person equipped for particular kinds of work is really gaining ground and is very problematic. It can work well for post 14s and when the specialism matches the child, but it shouldn't be a guiding principle for 11+ education.

Bridget McKenzie said...

Nick and Paul. As I was one who said our child was unhappy at Askes, I'll just comment on that point. I disagree with the very notion of choosing a school from a diverse range to suit your child's interests and personality. The ideal for me is widespread provision of intimate, flexible, creative, local and inclusive secondary schools that support children to develop their own individuality and manage their own learning. The idea of secondaries specialising vey narrowly and aiming to churn out a particular kind of person equipped for particular kinds of work is really gaining ground and is very problematic. It can work well for post 14s and when the specialism matches the child, but it shouldn't be a guiding principle for 11+ education.

Anonymous said...

> Yes Lou, the application of money does seem to work wonders.

Indeed it does. The spend per pupil in private schools is roughly twice that in state schools.

Bridget McKenzie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tressilliana said...

@Nick: "we already have a market in that parents and kids can choose from multiple suppliers"

I don't think so. We have a system where parents can express preferences, not make choices. It's not the same thing, as many less-informed parents have discovered to their cost when they've listed six very popular schools as preferences and don't get a place for their child at any of them.

We currently have an admissions system in London which makes it harder for the children of the less well-educated to get access to the 'best' schools, because their parents are least likely to be able to work the system.

Brockley Nick said...


"We have a system where parents can express preferences, not make choices. It's not the same thing, as many less-informed parents have discovered to their cost when they've listed six very popular schools as preferences and don't get a place for their child at any of them."

I agree it's a seller's market. It's a deeply flawed and unfair market. But there's a market alright.

"We currently have an admissions system in London which makes it harder for the children of the less well-educated to get access to the 'best' schools, because their parents are least likely to be able to work the system."

Agreed. To a certain extent, this is unavoidable. Remove any form of choice (as I used to want to do) and make everyone go to their local school and you end up with selection via house prices.

The only solution that I can see is to raise standards as much as possible, so that everyone has access to a good education. The question then turns to what works. It seems (and Radio 4's In Business this week talked about similar issues) that plurality of provision is one of the things that helps.


"I disagree with the very notion of choosing a school from a diverse range to suit your child's interests and personality. The ideal for me is widespread provision of intimate, flexible, creative, local and inclusive secondary schools that support children to develop their own individuality and manage their own learning."

That's your view of what a good school is. But if others designing Paul's centralised system disagreed about what constitutes a good school, you wouldn't want the right to choose something else? What about the parent who thinks that the one thing their child needs is structure and discipline and to be equipped for the world of work.

You seem to be saying that you oppose choice, so long as the one thing that's offered is designed for your / your child's preferences.

Anonymous said...

Aske's also run Haberdashers' Aske's Knights Temple Grove Primary School... just to confuse things further! (was Merlin Primary)

dubious donna said...

There is the argument that markets tend towards monopoly, education is no exception. Haberdashers is becoming something of a monopoly supplier in the area, rather than offering a new diverse approach (the rhetoric of free schools).

In proper procurement you might start with saying we need 60 new places in this area, we have these resources, let's invite at least three providers to bid. Have the other schools in the area been asked to 'bid' for new places and resources? Or have resources just been offered to HAHC, in a procurement process overseen by the Schools Commissioner - the former head of HAHC.

Some market!

Anonymous said...

Can there really be a market without money?

Supppose parents were given vouchers and schools could choose what to charge?

Brockley Nick said...

Surely the big problem in the area is that there are not enough good secondary schools.

It's only because this new primary would have preferential access to one of those secondary schools that people are worried about the affect on other local primaries, which might be just as good or better but less popular because they are not a feeder for a good secondary.

Otherwise, it would be ridiculous to object to a new school on the basis that it might be better and more popular than another local school.

We need another good secondary school in the area asap. It's good enough to let the better off move house or go private and let the worse off make do with bad schools.

Transpontine said...


I tend to agree, which means we are back where we were nearly ten years ago with the new secondary school for New Cross campaign.

Purely in planning terms it is obvious that the recent Brockley/New Cross/Nunhead baby boom will result in surplus demand for secondary places in the near future, unless people feel they have to move out of the area because they don't think there will a place for their child.

Anonymous said...

>Surely the big problem in the area is that there are not enough good secondary schools.

Agreed. The corollary for an LEA which exports secondary pupils to the private sector or other LEAs (as Leiwisham does in common with some other London LEAs) is that it needs always to have an undersubscribed school in order to fulfil its legal obligation. The way to solve this problem (for the LEA) is to have at least one sink school that few people want to go to.

Brockley Nick said...

That should of course have been 'it's *not* good enough'!

Anonymous said...

>It's good enough to let the better off move house or go private and let the worse off make do with bad schools.

>That should of course have been 'it's *not* good enough'!

But you may have defined the policy for many LEAs and governments over the years!

Tressilliana said...

My children are in their late teens now so this isn't a live issue for us any more, but I find it hard to believe that the secondary schools are no better now than they were ten and fifteen years ago when we were hearing more about this. As far as I'm aware there isn't a single secondary school in Lewisham in special measures, for what that's worth, and at any given time 15 years ago there were likely to be one or two in that position. I read the Ofsted report on Hatcham Wood school (or maybe it was Telegraph Hill school by then) shortly before it closed and it was eye-popping.

I'm quite prepared to believe that there is still a lot of room for improvement but Lewisham schools are by no means the worst in London.

Anonymous said...

not sure about Lewisham exporting secondary pupils is a choice... every secondary school in Lewisham is currently oversubscribed: http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/SiteCollectionDocuments/ApplicationsForSecondaryTransfer.pdf

looking at this it appears that there is a definite need for another secondary school

Brockley Nick said...


So, specifically, where would you recommend, after Prendergast (girls only up to 6th form) and Haberdasher's, both of which are incredibly hard to get into, to send your kids?

Anonymous said...

Assuming we're talking about boys and non-church?:
Addey & Stanhope, Forest Hill, Prendergast Ladywell Fields, Conisborough College

Tressilliana said...

I'm not up to date with these matters, Nick. My daughter went to Prendergast and it was OK, but not brilliant - for her. My son didn't get into a Lewisham school that we thought would suit him, so we sold our souls to the devil and sent him to an independent school.

If we had to start again now I'd be taking a long hard look at all the secondary schools I thought an unaccompanied 11-year-old could reach safely and reasonably quickly by public transport or on foot. There's no substitute for visiting schools. Ofsted reports and league tables are all very well but you need to see the place and hear the head talking to get a better sense of what the place is really like.

Bridget McKenzie said...

@Nick No, I didn't mean to say I'm against choice. (I've got a bad cold, hence not working yesterday, but maybe I should steer clear of commenting as I'm not making myself clear!) I want parents to have choice. I just think that if it's up to schools & federations/companies to decide how their secondary school should specialise, you don't get diversity of choice in a locality, unless you're very lucky. Many of our local specialisms are in music. And as has been pointed out, Askes is homogenising not diversifying provision. Choosing a secondary school shouldn't be like choosing a university course. It should be like choosing a place where you feel at home, where you are well looked after, where you can form good relationships, which is a safe base for a range of experiences which build a broad set of competencies for an uncertain future. Yes, this ideal is a personal one, but it's also informed by research into what makes for successful learning, worldwide.

Deptfordsaysno said...

Local members of the community need to remember that this is ideologically driven attempt to break local authority stranglehold on education.

Free schools an are untested experiment that could undermine democracy. (In Sweden they have increased social segregation).

The government has pledged just £50 million for capital investment (buildings an infrastructure) in all free schools. It has not made specific commitments about future funding. The money has come from the scrapping of two grants for schools: BSF and harnessing the technology grant.

Critics say the free schools programme has been characterised by a lack of transparency, particularly when it comes to the costs of building new schools. Read More bit.ly/pQcooi

Interestingly Gove turned down Diaspora High School last year in Lewisham. See: http://ind.pn/y2pDeA

I am surprised that Labour councillors are in support of this venture, surely more questions need to be asked:

Crucially, what influence can our locally elected representatives realistically bring to bear in the face of pressure from central government and what are the criteria and set of determinants by which they judge the merits of each new school proposal? Policy decisions of this nature must be simple, consistently applied and transparent to local people on a case by case basis.

What is the council's strategy for addressing the acute shortage of school places in particular areas of the borough?

Where are the areas most in need and will free schools genuinely add capacity and raise education standards where the need is greatest?

Anonymous said...

We just went through the application process for secondary schools for our son and at first we were panicking at the thought we were not close enough to get a place at Aske's but when we visited the schools we were really impressed with the investment in the schools in Lewisham, 30 plus million spent on brand new high tech building at Deptford Green & a brand new school Pendergast Vale college both opening Sept 2012 and major new extension being built at Addey. There really is a lot to be positive about in Lewisham schools and we found we were in a much better position than parents would have been in even a few years ago.

Brockley Nick said...

Thanks Anon, that's good to hear.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as someone who's offspring are grown-up, we went through the system, looking at schools, primary then secondary. We canvassed friends opinions, we followed local press reports and generally in pre internet age tried to be as well informed as possible. I came to the conclusion some years later that whether a school is good or not can change very rapidly, and nothing is set in stone, and reputations are sometimes not deserved. I know 4 people that went to Askes, yes they are eloquent and assured, but two of them are part of the long-term unemployed, and the other two have very ordinary jobs. They all have zero ambition, nothing wrong with that of course, but not the outcome their parents envisaged. The secondary we chose had a dynamic head, that quickly became a regular talking head on TV news and things like Womens' Hour. The school suffered as her celebrity grew.

Anonymous said...

>There really is a lot to be positive about in Lewisham schools and we found we were in a much better position than parents would have been in even a few years ago.

I think it is probably true that Lewisham schools have improved in the last few years and the new buildings are a part of that, but for secondary transfer you have to look beyond the brochure and get to know a school's attitude to learning and behaviour. You can't beat visiting lessons in progress and just walking around with your child to assess if it's right for him/her.

Anonymous said...

Some years ago, when our son was old enough to go to a secondary, he was rejected by Askes, the rest of the schools we visited were dumps so we sent him to St Dunstans - he's doing very well now thanks, and all that in spite of having regular (negative) contact from the school regarding his behaviour.

Schools aren't the only thing in life . . .

Anonymous said...

Just out of interest, are any of the commentators - for or against the proposal - parents of pre-schoolers? i.e. people who might need these school places? I have a 2 year old and although I live in Telegraph Hill (on TH?) i don't feel like a place at Waller's is in any way guaranteed. I can't even get a response to my enquiries about Foundation stage admissions. In fact they have expanded their year 1 intake, but can't continue to do so indefinitely. it's also worth noting that although a child at a Haberdashers primary, free or at Temple Grove, will be prioritised for admission at secondary level, there is no mention of a 'guaranteed' place as some here have suggested. who knows what the ratio of applications to places will be by then...

Deptfordsaysno said...

Gove and Sidwell (ex CEO of Haberdashers Aske's) in cahoots!

Dr Elizabeth Sidwell is now Schools Commissioner for England, see:


See Sidewells plea for Military cadet forces in every school:


Tressilliana said...

It's as near a guarantee of a place in the senior school as you'll ever get, Anon 15:00. They say that they intend to make this one of the priority categories for admission, after siblings and before distance. Only children in care and with very significant social and medical needs take higher priority than siblings, and those would, I assume, be in single figures.

Anonymous said...

i understand that it would be an advantage in getting a secondary place, but assume that as the primary places increase they will not be able to 'guarantee' everyone a place automatically.
Meanwhile I'd be really interested to hear what any parents of young children in the area have to say about securing a local primary place for their child. My understanding is that applications to Wallers are in great excess to the places available for example.

Tressilliana said...

Oversubscription stats are tricky to second guess as parents make several applications, so all schools are oversubscribed now. Lewisham Admissions are very helpful with this kind of thing and can tell you on the phone, I think, roughly how far you live from the school and how far the last family to get a place lived last year.

Westsider said...

Deptfordsaysno, maybe you could explain what's wrong with that?

Scandal: "Educator and Education Minister have good working relationship"

Anonymous said...

>Local members of the community need to remember that this is ideologically driven attempt to break local authority stranglehold on education.

And, of course, you have no ideological position.

Lou Baker said...

Why is everyone so keen on Waller - my nearest school.

When I looked round it with my kids not that long ago I came to the very clear conclusion that it was - by far - the worst school I'd seen.

It simply was not a patch on the others I saw.

Seriously, I would have moved or home educated my kids before sending them to Waller.

Transpontine said...


I hadn't read that piece about the former head of Aske's calling for more military cadet forces in schools. Yuck.

It always creeps me out to see kids from Askes posing about New Cross in military uniforms. If people want to join a paramilitary organisation in their spare time that's their business, but it's got nothing to do with education or 'raising standards'.

It is based on a notion that the Victorian public school was the highest possible form of education, even though it was built on institutionalised child abuse (sexual abuse and violence).

THNick said...

Nick, Paul - the evidence for Free Schools worldwide is very unclear. In Sweden the evidence is mixed but they have a much more open system than we have now. Private companies are able to set up schools with much less stringent requirements so there is much more scope for competition.

I'm a parent of child who would be in the first year at the new school. I'm broadly in favour of a new school (since we're on the borderline of getting into Edmund Waller, and parents who have been round it recently had similar impressions to Lou). But I can't see where it'll be based and I'm uncertain about whether primary schools would benefit from being run like secondaries. Paul - I'll try to remember to pass on my views following the consulation meeting next week.

Tressilliana - there were 196 applications to Edmund Waller for 60 places, which means that the catchment area was 326 metres, so pretty small. John Stainer was only 186 metres, I can't see that some parents choosing to send their children to a new school will be seriously detrimental to either.

Transpontine - cadet forces can be beneficial for some children if not directly learning, in the same way that drama/music etc can be. I don't agree with some of the more loony calls for introducing "military discipline" into classrooms though....

Transpontine said...

At the moment we are all talking about a hypothetical school, though as I said at the start it is presumbaly a done deal and perhaps the school have been told that they are in line for free school capital funding. A new school couldn't run out of temporary buildings long term.

So I think a key question for any prospective parents would be:

- What do the plans for the school look like?
- Will it be split across two (or more) sites and how will that work (e.g. most primaries have whole school assemblies)?
- What outside space will there be?
- How will younger children be separated from older secondary children?
- Will they be complying with the standards set in (not statutory) guidance - 'Building Bulletin 99: Briefing framework for primary school projects':


From what THNick says about size of catchment areas there does seem to be a shortage of spaces locally, so something needs to be done quite quickly. But it is also important not to sacrifice the quality of the learning enviroment for short term expediency. If it can't work properly maybe other sites need to be considered.

young habadashers mandem said...

as a student of Habz - what ive got 2 say for it is that its a good school. the periods arent too long and if u dont like them then the periods are only as long as a maximum of 50 minuts. so its not too bad.

the only problem we have as students is. the school dinners. they used to be good food but. now is all weird stuff. like deli food or sumtihng. so its not really good fair. more like hippys food. just saying.

but sort it out and it habadashers woudl be a good school,

Anonymous said...

My kids go to Waller, and we love it. The children are enthused about school, and the kids I know love going! They leave loving education, are confident, and ready to take on new challenges. I would much rather a school that encourages my children to be confident, happy, and enjoy learning, than one where they are drilled with facts and quickly find learning boring. The academics there are continually improving, & they maintain a commitment to play based learning for the early years which is exactly what the children should have. Couple that with an amazing community who give so much to the school supporting it in wonderful ways, and I really wouldn't even consider changing!

Anonymous said...

I am a former Askes student (and no I don't have a high flying job, but I have a stable and secure job thanks).

I am also a parent of a primary school child who attends EW and a pre schooler who would be within the age range for the free school.

I am broadly happy with the education my child is receiving at Waller and hope that my other child will attend too.

There is a need for more school places - particularly towards Drakefell Rd / St Norbert's Rd where you are in danger of being between schools and not being offered any local places, and also in New Cross itself - but I do not feel that the Askes sites are suitable and am aware on the impact for Temple Grove & secondary phase students of the temporary measures.

I feel that more options are needed - and a better assessment of the need for places across the borough over the next 5-10 years.

Anonymous said...

I'm presuming the 22.27 post is a wind-up...

Mondee said...

I'm certainly hoping so. If not, it's a pretty damning reflection of the English teaching at the school.

Brockley Nick said...

@TH Nick - yes, I have read about the Swedish experience. I am not arguing for Free Schools per se, but the principle of plurality in general: Academies, technical colleges, montessori, strict schools, libertarian schools, academic schools, practical schools, etc, etc.

Vesta Curry said...

@ Nick - ahh ... a pot pourri - how nice. And how hopelessly optimistic (opportunistic?) ...

young habadashers mandem said...

annonymous - if u are referring 2 my message. i am a real habz student and as concerened as u. so please, give me respect.

Anonymous said...

Very good young habadasher, I hope you continue to contribute.

Lou Baker said...

@young haberdasher

Though if u wanna get anywhere in life u ought to right proper. Innit.

Anonymous said...

So long as young habadasher learns how to construct a coherent argument without the childish insults and without troting out tired, trite, soundbites he'll be fine eh Lou?

Bridget McKenzie said...

Can anyone make sense of what Nick Gibb is saying about Askes & academies in this Evening Standard piece? Ironic that my autocorrect keeps wanting to call him Gibberish.

The opposition to the Monson takeover wasn't to do with loss of local control so much as concern at the unfair automatic entry to Askes for children some way from the catchment node. He suggests that there was a turnaround from community opposition to parents becoming the backbone of the school. I don't have any evidence of an extraordinary transformation in parental involvement now that it's part of Askes academy, or of the opposite, so it might be true or not. Askes secondary is known for not being particularly good at involving parents. I can imagine a little bit more parental pleasure if they can so easily progress to Askes secondary, but perhaps also a bit less motivation to push children to do well? Warwick Mansell has pointed out to Gibb that Temple Grove performs less well than the Downhills Primary in achievements of disadvantaged pupils, and Gove is forcing Downhills to become an academy because it is judged to be failing. It would be great to hear more from people with experience of Temple Grove about changes their since Askes takeover.

Anonymous said...

As a parent of a three year old who lives within two minutes walk of Stainer but would have failed to secure a place based on last year's intake I was initially delighted to hear about this new school. Now I'm not so sure and realise it could cause us more stress for when our child gets to secondary school age assuming we don't get into the free school (and after all the comments I've read about Askes I'm no longer sure how keen I am about sending him there anyway). We'll be attending the info evening on Monday where we may feel reassured but more likely will be left feeling anxious about our primary and secondary school options. I really didn't think I would be having to be worrying about this quite so early on.

Bridget McKenzie said...

Anonymous living near Stainer, if this free school does go ahead (which looks likely) it will certainly relieve demand on Stainer and other schools, leaving you a good choice of primaries. Despite the negative comments about the primaries in this area, I think we're extremely lucky. (Certainly we were delighted with Edmund Waller.) I think, as Transpontine says, if the IPC and dual language teaching are featured at the new free school, it will be in many ways very good. More negative considerations would be that a child would likely be in the same school for 14-15 years of their life, and if the culture at the primary is overly formal, academic and lacking in outdoor play space, it might not be ideal for a child's overall development. It might be that the other secondaries (e.g. investment in buildings at Prendergast & Deptford Green) are much improved by the time your child is of age, so I don't think it's too worrisome. What's more worrisome is the political climate of imposition of educational change without democratic participation or evidence.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bridget. The announcement of the free school is the first time we've had to engage with the whole which school debate so if anything it's forcing me to become more informed about what is on offer.

young habadashers mandem said...

its best 2 b in the know.

Deptfordsaysno said...

Westsider said...
Deptfordsaysno, maybe you could explain what's wrong with that?

Scandal: "Educator and Education Minister have good working relationship"

I am pointing out that it is not democratic-it's a done deal. Maybe your able to trust Gove but I certainly don't.

Transpontine said...

@Bridget: 'I think, as Transpontine says, if the IPC and dual language teaching are featured at the new free school, it will be in many ways very good'

Not sure I quite said that, but other than remaining to be convinced about the suitability of the site/building I've no reason to think that the proposed primary school would be a bad school as such, even if I personally disagree with the 'old school=good school' Askes branding.

I have similar concerns to @deptfordsaysno about the direction of government education policy (including lack of transparency). I think the debate about diversity of approaches is interesting, but the idea that schools have been held back for years by a stifling bureaucracy is a bit of a myth. Schools have been locally managed by governing bodies rather than Councils since 1990, and anybody who has been to more than one or two community schools will know that there has always been considerable diversity even within the broad framework of the national curricululum.

As others have said, there is a danger of emerging education corporations like Askes becoming new monopolies rather than encouragng diversity. Despite my misgivings about the free school model, I do wonder whether a new free school to meet the need for a secondary school in north Lewisham would ever be approved if Askes felt it was in competition with it.

Anyway enough of my education policy ranting, I am now a bit clearer about the status of the HAHC proposal. Basically for a free school to get approved by the DfE it has to demonstrate that it has enough expressions of interest to guarantee 50 per cent of enrolment in its first two years of operation. This is what Askes are seeking to secure by inviting parents of young children to a meeting - they have advertised it far and wide, seemingly leafleting homes not just in Telegraph Hill but further afield in parts of Nunhead (Ivydale Road area).

Whatever people think about Michael Gove, free schools or Askes, I would be surprized if they failed to find parents of 60 children willing to put their name down with the current shortage of places and the carrot of a guaranteed secondary place (though expressing an interest will not of course guarantee a place in the new school).

Anonymous said...

@lou baker

As an anxious parent of a 3 year old, about to submit the school application form with Edmund Waller as the only realistic preference, please can you state more explicitly the reasons for your views about the school. Thank you.

Bridget McKenzie said...

Thanks for doing that research @Transpontine. Very helpful to understand that it's not a done deal but yet, given the circumstances, very likely to get the numbers they need. No, you're right, you didn't quite say that about the new school.

I do think planning to adopt the IPC & dual language makes an overt statement that it means to be free of the National Curriculum and also to be delivering a curriculum designed explicitly for primary children's needs. If secondary teachers are used in carefully measured way within a curriculum suiting primary kids, it should be acceptable. If I had kids of that age, I'd probably still choose Waller because I think school environment and community are vital.

Transpontine said...

@ anxious anonymous

My number one piece of advice to anybody in your position would be make your own mind up, ignore dinner party gossip and especially ignore curmudgeonly comments on blogs, read Ofsted reports and stats but with a sceptical eye.

Look round the school, speak to parents and children who go their every day. Do they seem like they are enjoying learning in safe and reasonably pleasant environment? Could you see your child making friends there? Does it look like they are stimulating children's imagination? Etc etc.

I can't speak for Waller now as I haven't had kids there for a few years but I did have kids there for ten years and they did and are doing fine. Lou has had no experience of the school other than a visit or two an unspecified number of years ago before packing their kids off to private school (which if you read this blog regularly and follow Lou's views on public services will come as no surprize).

Waller has gone up and down in the fashion stakes, as with most schools I am sure there is room for improvement and a mixture of the inspirational and the mediocre. But I would be surprized if a school that has been at the heart of this community for so long had changed that much.

But don't take my word for it, or Lou's!

young haberdashres mandem said...

da best thing 2 do imo is av a look with ur own eyes. come down ,and speak wiht da teachers and also the mandem

best of luck in ur search

Anonymous said...


Thanks a lot for your comment, I do agree with you about not taking heed of gossip. I have looked round and definitely liked aspects of it. Other local schools that I visited (JS, MG) perhaps made more of an effort to welcome parents and impress them, with the headteacher speaking at the open morning etc, while at EW there was no mention of the headteacher at all. I think this gave the impression that it was coasting and lacked the focus and ambition of a school like JS where the head's energy was evidently driving the school's success. Of course, having not had the opportunity to meet the head of EW I can't make a proper comparison.

Ultimately, we don't really have a choice as we aren't close enough to any other local school to get in. I know that in fact some would envy our proximity to EW. I'm sure our son will be happy there and benefit hugely from being at a school at the heart of his local community.

Anonymous said...

i am currently a pupil at haberdasher askes in upper 6th at the hatcham site. over the years i have watched this school rapidly fall from grace. the decision to introduce the aoutomatic transition from temple grove to secondary for pupils is the downfall of this school yes there is the argument for secured secondary school places for children, but at the loss of a good school? i think so

Anonymous said...

It seems that one option is to express a preference for it not to be a feeder school. This would help (not solve, but help....) regarding the divisiness, and keep Askes more of a community school, as otherwise only siblings + music + sports + 2 feeders will get in.

anyone know if this might be possible?

Anonymous said...

forget about HTG, St Matthew Academy is the BEST.

RIP Haberdashers Askes Federation.....too fragmented

B&T said...

For any parents who have applied for a reception place for September, st Stephens has now been confirmed as taking a bulge class, so obviously more people will get in based on distance as opposed to the religious criteria. If you thought you wouldn't get in so didn't put it down as a choice and have submitted
your form online, you can still amend it until the deadline on 15th Jan.

Anonymous said...

Going before the Mayor next week is a proposal for Prendergast Ladywell Fields College so that it becomes an all-age school offering 2 forms of entry in the primary phase.

The proposal has been discussed with the Governors of the leathersellers Federation of Schools who welcome the proposal.

Anonymous said...

Our neighbours children go to Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College who are arrogant oiks.

The open persuit of drugs by them and their schoolchums is astonishing.

Mummy & Daddy will roll up to drop off or pick up their little dahlings because the mean streets of Lewisham are too dangerous to walk.

Yet, those little darlings will happily get into the back of cars driven by some right dodgey characters for some sherbet.

Brockley Nick said...

So, to summarise: You once saw some school kids try to buy drugs. And you don't like them. Or people in general.

Anonymous said...

If you choose to think it was once then that's choice.

These kids all from the same school strut around as if they are better than others, hence the blatant purchasing of drugs.

Thes ain't hoodies, these are the Oliver's and Emily's who swoop down from Brockley to mix with the common people.

Brockley Nick said...

"These kids all from the same school strut around as if they are better than others, hence the blatant purchasing of drugs."

Can you be more specific. At the moment, you just sound weirdly chippy as an adult, concerned about the demeanor of teenagers.

"Thes ain't hoodies,"


"these are the Oliver's and Emily's who swoop down from Brockley to mix with the common people."

Lame stereotyping again. And are these your neighbours' kids, as you originally claimed? If so, how do you know what they are up to around school - unless you live next to the school, in which case they're not "swooping in" from Brockley, or anywhere else. They live there.

emily said...

I love curtain twitchers.

Anonymous said...

Emily why not go the whole hog....and set up a website or distribute leaflets warning people not to 'snitch'?

On 29 December (2010) 17-year-old Sylvester Akapalara was shot in the head and neck in a Peckham stairwell.

...on 12 January up to 200 flyers were delivered to nearby residents.

It concluded: "Be smart. Don't snitch."

Anonymous said...

Who rattled Nick's cage?

The spoilt middle class kids wouldn't dream of carrying out their buisness on their home turf.

Mummy & daddy might get offended and stop chauffering them around to visit their schoolfrends who don't live in Brockley.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but "sherbet"? Do you even know what you're talking about?

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon - no-one's rattled any cages, you are not blowing our tiny minds with the revelation that some middle class children take drugs.

That being said, your tales sound made-up.

Anonymous said...

No working class kids ever buy drugs or get driven to school. This is a well known fact I have made up to back up all my other pointless bullshit.

Bertie Bassett said...

Sherbet anon sounds like he's well acquainted with dealing habits. Leave him be, while he's typing he's not reproducing. That can only be a good thing.

emily said...

Emily why not go the whole hog....and set up a website or distribute leaflets warning people not to 'snitch'?

Sorry, I'm too busy swooping down from Brockley to buy drugs and hang with you common people to leaflet drop. Fancy a job?

Anonymous said...

Good to see the youth ploughing money into the local enconomy.....of Colombia.

Anonymous said...


The meetings took place today regarding the proposed free school;
I for one feel that I still have lots of unanswered questions. I'd be very interested to hear the impressions of others. As the number of responses to your original post have made it a little unwieldy, might it be worth a new post? Thanks, and thanks too for drawing it to my attention - as a resident of Pepys Road within 30 metres of the top site, I wasn't leafleted and otherwise would have been unaware of the plans.


THNIck said...

I've posted a summary of my notes from the meetnig last night on SE Central:
Would be good for others to add whatever they picked up from the meetings, especially if they went to the first one.
PS apologies if link doesnt work

Anonymous said...

Personally I am super delighted. And do not get
what the fuss is all about. If you are happy to put your child in the secondary school why not put them in the the feeder primary first.
And what is wrong about being selective!? I grew up in a proper socialism where being selective was a must- so this "we are all of the same abilities" certainly is not a socialist model. It does not help academic kids and it does not help non-academic kids who certainly can excel in different ways. Just makes everybody just about average. Kills everybody's aspirations!

Anonymous said...

If you think it's about "having the same abilities" you are mistaken. Education should maximise the potential of each child, whatever that maximum is and should not be based on how lucky or hard working or rich or poor the parent. Your not responsible for the circumstances your born into.

Tressilliana said...

Anon 19;51, I think you have misunderstood Aske's admissions policy. It isn't an academically selective school. It takes some children at 11 with musical aptitude - personally I'm cynical about how that can be differentiated from general academic ability, but it's only 10%. Otherwise, they prioritise applications from families who live very near the school or who already have a child there. Given the average property values on Telegraph Hill, it seems to be very likely that by doing that they are prioritising a lot of fairly affluent families because that is the kind of neighbourhood they're in. The Temple Grove takeover may have done something to even things out a bit socially.

If it was going to be genuinely academically selective, it would be drawing in children from a far wider area on the basis of how clever they were. But that doesn't happen in the state sector in Inner London, except in a few weird cases like Graveney School where it survives as an anachronism.

Anonymous said...

Well tell me about socialism where I was born, bread, educated and lived half of my life. Of course everybody has a right to have same chances in life but you cannot maximise everybody's potential in the same type of school. Because " universal" anything is often proven to be average at anything. This school is clearly old fashion style academic school and should ideally take such suitable children. And I would be equally happy if it is selective as it should be. But given it is not I just consider myself to be lucky to live near enough. Sorry! Postcode lottery.

Other anon said...

Well if you think that you should be defined by where or what circumstances you happen to be born in then I think that's a poor ambition.

Anonymous said...

Well said other anon

Tamsin said...

@ Tressiliana - Telegraph Hill belies its appearance, there are many conversion flats and a significant proportion of them are housing association or council owned. So the intake of the school based on distances will not automatically be predominantly the affluent middle classes.

Even more so if you consider proximity to the Jerningham Road site where there is the 60s infill of Jerningham and Ommaney Courts - medium sized blocks of still mainly council owned flats.

Anonymous said...

Will you have to live under 500m from the new free school in order to get in?

M. Disapointed said...

Hi I believe admission to the primary is not based on distance from the new site but the Pepys Road site.....

Unlucky said...

Hatcham Temple Grove Free School

In July 2012 the Department for Education (DfE) approved the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation’s application to open the Hatcham Temple Grove (HTG) Free School. The DfE are of the opinion that it is not feasible to have the school on a split site and that it should be accommodated on the Pepys Road site in a brand new purpose built building. Based on this information we have now amended our proposed admission distance criteria which will now only be measured from the Pepys Road site and not the dual node as originally proposed in our application

Green Gables said...

excellence and reputations make your school in the top list of Secondary Schools in Hyderabad, Best Kids Schools in Madhapur and Best International Schools in Hyderabad

To move or not to move said...

Trying to bring a three year old thread back to life here but does anyone know if the Free School will become a feeder school to Hatcham Colllege in addition to the current feeder? The school tell me it's undecided but does anyone hve any insider knowledge?

Woman of Brockley said...

It says here that it will become a feeder school. http://www.haaf.org.uk/Mainfolder/Admission-Policies/HTGFS%202015%20and%20FAQ.pdf

"Q. Are Hatcham Temple Grove and Hatcham Temple Grove Free School different Primary Schools.
A. Yes, Hatcham Temple Grove (HTG) is the primary phase o Hatcham College and children who
attend HTG has automatic entry into the secondary phase of Hatcham College.
Hatcham Temple Grove Free School is a separate primary school in the Haberdashers’ Aske’s
Federation and therefore, children in year 6 do not have automatic entry to the College secondary
phase. However, it is the intention of the Federation to amend the Hatcham College admissions
policy for year 7 entry to make the Free School a feeder school for the College when the Free School
children are on year 6."

To move or not to move said...

Thanks for that. I wonder why the school told me it was undecided? They said the decision wouldn't be made until the children are on year six implying the decision could go either way but the link you've posted clearly says it's their intention. Thanks though.

Does anyone here have children at the free school or have any views on it now it's up and running?

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