Children, Schools and Families Scrutiny Committee Thursday, 18th July 2013 6.30 pm

The Secondary School Places Planning Process goes to CSF Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 18thJuly. Here is a link to the agenda, the reports and appendices.

The report’s statistics show that the child projections for South of Euston Road (SER) are HIGHER than parents have been campaigning on for a new school.

In 2008, the campaign looked at the then projections and said “There are and will continue to be over 800 children aged 11-15 living in Camden south of Euston Road.”  Later projections passed the 900 mark but we haven’t updated ourselves since.  However, if you look at Table 5 in Appendix D (you’ll need a magnifying glass), the projected number is over 1100 throughout the period 2013-33 and over 1200 between 2015-20 and 2027-8.  The three wards South of Euston Road has 12-13% of the borough’s 11 to 15-year olds throughout the 20 year period.

Figure 2 on page 9 of the report makes it look as though the number of eleven-year olds in our area is falling away and then bumping along at a low level. In fact, it is falling away from an exceptionally high point (315) to a level in the range 230-265, rather more than the 180-200 eleven-year olds per year that the campaign usually talks about.

The figures for the two wards north of Euston Road are projected to increase substantially with the Kings Cross Railway Lands development.

In other words, the data in this report strengthens the case for the new UTS on the Wren Street site.  The UTS will admit 120 eleven-year olds each year.

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CNJ: Wren Street Site for New School

Published: 27 June, 2013


wren street site



A NEW secondary school is finally – after decades of parent campaigns and broken promises – set to open in the south of Camden, the New Journal can reveal. The Town Hall is on the brink of finalising a deal which will see a four-form school open in Wren Street, Holborn.

Camden’s schools chief Councillor Angela Mason said last night (Wednesday): “We are AngelaMasonlooking at it being open for September 2016.”

The move follows repeated warnings over several years that families south of the Euston Road seeking secondary school admissions are left high and dry. There was deep frustration in the southern wards of the borough that when a new academy school did open in Camden, it was built in Swiss Cottage, even though its sponsor was Bloomsbury-based University College London.

Parent campaigners were often told there was simply no land available for a new secondary school in the southern Camden wards. In the end, the Wren Street site, where leases are all expiring next year, was suggested by campaigners rather than the Town Hall. It was claimed at one stage that officials had done no more than search for sites on Google.

The painful wait and the angry to-and-fro, however, were declared to be coming to an end yesterday as council chiefs explained how the scheme will work. Camden will sell, at a reduced rate, the Wren Street site to the Department for Education, which has given a “positive indication” that the deal will go through. Education secretary Michael Gove’s department would then hand the site to the Institute of Education, which will take charge of the new school and use it as a “university training school”.

The IoE has been working with the parent-led Where Is My School? campaign. There have been calls for a new school south of the Euston Road for more than three decades but the campaign was taken up a gear by families eight years ago, even though many of those who have campaigned for a school knew they might not see their own children taught there.
Cllr Mason said: “The idea is that the new school will be a training school with the Institute of Education. So it will be a hotbed of learning and new ideas. It will be something that can provide something more to Camden.” She added that the council had three years to fine-tune its admissions system and scan pupil projections.

It has been suggested by some that, now the UCL Academy has opened, a ripple effect will diminish demand. However councillors believe it is time to stop splitting up communities at secondary school age, with large percentages heading to private school or out of the borough, in the absence of a nearby option.

Council leader Councillor Sarah Hayward said: “The receipt from the sale will go back into the Community Investment Programme, which will be a benefit to all schools for repairs. “And this will be a new school which will work with the current family of schools in Camden, where there is an established spirit of working together. The IoE already does work in Camden schools and it is a popular choice. We are delivering a manifesto pledge here.”

Only six weeks ago, Conservative rivals were questioning council chiefs for their apparent inaction over school places in the area during a flare-up at a full council meeting. Tories said the council was failing families in that part of the borough. Labour members knew then that a deal was in the pipeline at that stage, but did not elaborate further while negotiations were continuing.

In the search for a site, the New Journal revealed last year that Bidborough House, the council offices next to Euston Road, were under consideration as a site. The plug was pulled on the idea after further sizing up. The Wren Street site will include a play area and the school is looking to nearby Coram’s Fields as a possible site for activities. Already there are suggestions that the new school could work with the expanding Regent High in Somers Town, the former South Camden Community School. “We have an innovative project that shares staff between Camden schools and the IoE to support teacher development,” said Rosemary Leeke, head at Regent High. “I am looking forward to developing this project to form the basis of future close working across all Camden schools and the university training school.”

Privately, some councillors and officials were worried that the project may have been derailed by philosopher AC Grayling’s stated ambition to open a secondary school on similar lines to the New College of Humanities university, launched in Bloomsbury last year. His idea was launched in the press before any discussion with the council, which was already working behind the scenes with the IoE. It is understood that at one stage there was a fear that if Professor Grayling had put a fixed deal in place with the government for a new school, the Department of Education would not have met the council’s Wren Street plan with such warmth.
Cllr Hayward said: “We don’t think the government would approve two new schools in the area, so we want to get this project going.”

Leader of the Opposition Lib Dem Councillor Keith Moffitt said: “I’m not going to knock it. It is welcome news. It was our administration which earmarked the site for a school after decades of Labour doing nothing for families there.”

Conservative leader Councillor Claire-Louise Leyland said: “It is welcome to hear but I’m not so clear why they needed to be so secretive about it. That’s why we were asking about it. It seems strange locally that Labour has been so against free schools when they can offer something new. There are so many different needs for children and you would think they supported the idea of help and a range of school choices.”

An IoE statement said: “The proposal to establish a University Training School (UTS) in this part of Camden has the potential to provide an opportunity for an innovative approach to school provision and teacher training and would offer children the opportunity to be taught by teachers at the forefront of practice. The IoE has a range of close relations with Camden secondary schools and any development with regard to plans south of the Euston Road would be in the context of those relationships.”


Camden New Journal COMMENT:

Published: 27 June, 2013

THE most uplifting news for many years is the announcement by Councillor Angela Mason that a secondary school will, at last, be built in the south of the borough.

Campaigns for a better Camden are often started with great gusto by conscientious citizens – only to fail along the way.

This is not necessarily due to any failing of the campaigners.

Foot-dragging officialdom, unimaginative bureaucrats, the sheer weight of indifference by the general public – all these factors play a part. In the process the heads of campaigners go down, and the very heart of living democracy is damaged, to the point where ruinous apathy begins to get a grip.

For more than a generation, civic-minded residents of Bloomsbury, King’s Cross and Holborn have thought, argued and pleaded for a secondary school in the south.

It has been such an obvious lack in the area.

It has stared families in the face for so long, families who had to send their children northwards to other schools in Camden, that they assumed the powers-that-be would see it as well. But the policy makers were blind.

At last, at long last, however, the campaigners have won through in their long march towards the big prize!

Enthusiastically, this newspaper has been only too glad to support the campaigners.

Though the new dawn will come too late for many campaigners whose children had to be shipped off elsewhere, we know they are pleased that all their efforts paid off!

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Camden Statement on Wren Street Proposals

Institute of Education proposal for a new secondary school in Camden

Some of you will already know from discussions at the headteachers’ conference and with secondary chairs and headteachers, that the Department for Education has indicated that it is prepared to make an offer to buy part of the Wren St site in the south of the borough for use as a University Training School (UTS), subject to ministerial approval. The Council has indicated that it would be willing to accept the DfE’s offer subject to a report to the Cabinet in July. There is still further work to be done to get all the necessary approvals.

The school is being proposed by the Institute of Education. The IOE is already working closely with a number of schools in the borough so there is much to build on for future close working across all Camden schools and the UTS. The UTS is an innovative new type of school which, as well as providing four forms of entry, 11-19, would provide leading edge research which would benefit teaching and learning in all Camden’s schools. The school would meet the long-standing demand from the Holborn and St Pancras secondary school campaign for a school for the wards south of the Euston Road. Subject to the necessary approvals from the government, the IOE and the Council, the school is anticipated to open in September 2016. As well as a school development, part of the site will be sold for housing. The capital programme for reinvestment in schools and housing includes a provisional sum from a sale of the Wren Street site. It is anticipated that the proposals for a new school and housing will, subject to planning, deliver receipts at the required level. This is contrary to the reference in today’s CNJ that the site is being sold at a reduced rate to the DfE.

The IOE has confirmed that it wants to work closely with the Camden family of schools through sharing of best practice from the research at the UTS and in schools generally and also by exploring the possibility of shared sixth form provision with other schools and colleges, in the south of the borough.

In our discussions so far, some secondary schools have expressed concern about the impact of the new school on pupil numbers in our existing schools. We have already shared some headline information with secondary colleagues at a meeting earlier this week and will be sending out a pack of information as soon as possible setting out pupil number projections and admissions information. We will also be organising individual meetings with secondary schools this term and next and a meeting of all secondary school chairs and heads next term to discuss school places.

Richard Lewin, CSF assistant director (strategy and resources)

Camden Council

27th June 2013

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A big step forwards:


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Boris Johnson: Put aside politics and open the schools we need


21 May 2013  COMMENT

London will be short of 118,000 school places by 2016. This is no time to set educational ideology above pupils

I cannot conceal it from you that I went to the same school as the party leader. It is one of those things that make people think this country is a gigantic conspiracy. We both went to the same venerable redbrick seat of learning where the children of the bourgeoisie acquire their irritating good manners and contacts that will last them for life. Yes, folks, I went to the same excellent London primary school as Labour leader Ed Miliband — and I loved the place.

I remember the knee-scabbing playground, the balls of mashed potato (no packed lunches in those days), the light from those majestic cathedral-like windows and the assembly room-cum-gymnasium, with the beautiful wooden bars worn smooth by generations of Camden kids. You know the type of building I mean. London is still landmarked with them — products of the Victorian surge of energy and confidence that gave us the sewers and the Tube tunnels on which — incredibly — we still rely.

Our ancestors were responding to the sudden challenge of a population explosion and the legal necessity to provide free education for every child. Between 1870 and 1902 they built 400 of these handsome Flemish-gabled structures, with their separate entrances for Boys and Girls, and it is a tribute to their foresight and craftsmanship that they are still in use today; and today, of course, they are nothing like enough.

We need to find that identical Victorian gusto and ambition, and to meet a demographic challenge that is every bit as extraordinary. London is booming — with a population that has risen by 600,000 since I became Mayor — and that amazing statistic is not principally a function of immigration, as it happens, but of the simple rate of live births against deaths. Londoners are living longer, and producing more children, and we will need an extra 118,000 school places by 2016. In Croydon alone it is estimated that we will need 5,956 additional primary school places by 2015 and 8,652 by 2016.

We cannot have these children taught in sheds. We need funding for these schools, and together with leaders of London councils we have made representations to the Department of Education. We have had some success. We were awarded an extra £300 million, to reflect the magnitude of what is happening in London; and the Government recently announced a £982 million “targeted basic need” programme to help boroughs set up new schools in areas where they are needed most. That programme is specifically aimed at producing Free Schools — and in my view that is emphatically a good thing.

All schools vary in quality, and some Free Schools will be better than others. But I have seen with my own eyes how groups of parents and others are now setting up schools that have a universal admissions policy — but a distinctive ethos of achievement and ambition. I have visited schools with smartly uniformed children, and bright, clean buildings, where there is an obvious culture of discipline and respect, combined with a love of learning, sport and the arts.

The majority of these schools are being set up in areas with a severe shortage of places, and nine out of 10 Free Schools are now oversubscribed. Surely to goodness it is obvious that these schools are a good thing and that we need more of them? What is not to like?

That is why it has been worrying recently to hear of some local authorities that are being dog-in-the-mangerish, for reasons that can only be diagnosed as ideological. I am told that too many boroughs have been dragging their feet, and introducing planning delays, with the result that several schools have failed to open by September and therefore have to wait another academic year. This leads to uncertainty for parents, who are understandably reluctant to commit if they can’t be sure where and when their preferred school will open.

We all know there is a shortage of sites, and of course the proper democratic processes must be followed in awarding planning consents. But it seems that councils are expertly trapping the applicants for free schools in web of red tape. They are taking too long to validate planning applications, they are making last-minute demands for Section 106 contributions, they are asking for additional surveys after the planning application has been made and they are postponing planning committee meetings.

One council that shall remain nameless demanded that a Free School conduct an archaeological survey, even though the site was not regarded as an area of interest. Three large trial pits were dug, and nothing, of course, was found. One of the most vociferous opponents of Free Schools is apparently a full-time National Union of Teachers official who has his salary paid by a London borough and is a member of the Socialist Workers Party.

There is nothing wrong with being a swivel-eyed Leftie loon, of course; but it is ludicrous to campaign simultaneously for more school funding and against new state schools.

Folks, we can’t have it both ways. London schools have done well in the past 10 years. They are now better — on the whole — than schools elsewhere in the country. That is a fantastic achievement by London teachers and London councils. Now is the time to put politics aside, swallow our ideological differences, get the funding for London and get more schools built.

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London’s population surge could mean 300,000 more school places needed by 2031

Greater London Assembly press release

published 18th April 2013

GLAThe number of school children in London is set to increase by 25 per cent over the next 20 years as London’s population is projected to exceed 10 million , the London Assembly heard.

At a meeting of the Assembly’s Planning Committee, Demographic consultant John Hollis said based on current projections, by 2031 there will be 300,000 more 4-15 year olds than there are today and overall London is likely to be home to more than 9 million people by 2020 and 10 million by the 2030s.

He also said that the capital is likely to need an extra 50,000 homes a year over the next 25 years to cope with the increase in residents.

The Committee heard how London’s predicted growth could have a significant impact on people’s quality of life and demand for community facilities. For example, the predicted population growth would mean an additional 16 million square metres of playing fields based on current levels of provision.

Martin Crookston, an urban economist and planner, said: “There is not going to be much room for extra houses if you want 16 million square metres of playing fields. Something is going to have to give in terms of how you apply your standards. You are going to have to change them”

The expert panel discussed with Members options for accommodating the capital’s growth, including greater use of London’s brownfield land, enhancing suburban town centres within London, focusing development around stations within London and transport corridors, and building on green spaces, including the green belt.

Nicky Gavron AM, Chair of the Planning Committee, said: “London is facing extraordinary growth, with its population set to increase by around a million over the next decade and another million by the 2030s.

“That will have a major impact on people’s lives. Where will 300,000 more children go to school? Where will the jobs be? Where will 50,000 new homes be built every year?

“The Mayor has committed to ensuring Londoners enjoy a good and improving quality of life but to achieve this in the face of such population growth, he faces some difficult decisions. He needs the very best evidence and research to help make them.

“We need to be ready for the challenges ahead. The Committee will continue to investigate this issue and identify new ideas, financing and partnerships, and lessons the Mayor can learn from other European cities when he comes up with his revised plans for London.”

As a follow up to today’s meeting, the Committee plans to hold a seminar on London’s population growth later this year. The Mayor will shortly set out his 2020 vision for London and his Statement of Intent for major revisions to the London Plan.

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Conservative fury over school site accusation

Published 1st May 2013


CONSERVATIVE councillors say they have been “besmirched” by Labour Party chiefs who claimed the new UCL Academy was placed in Swiss Cottage partly for electoral gain.

Town Hall leader Councillor Sarah Hayward and her backbench Labour colleague Councillor Awale Olad made scathing AOcomments at the last full council meeting, in which they directly linked the choice of site for the borough’s first academy school at the top of Adelaide Road, Swiss Cottage, with the Tory ambition to win parliamentary votes in  the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency.

Conservatives say the suggestion was an attack on their character with an implication they acted improperly in office.

It is understood there was briefly some talk that legal action could be taken, but it was now thought the matter could be resolved with an apology.

The accusation of opening the UCL Academy for electoral gain had not been made so openly as it was in the recent comments made by Cllr Hayward and Cllr Olad at the Town Hall’s all-member meeting.

The UCL Academy was officially opened earlier this year by Lord Andrew Adonis.

Conservative councillor Don Williams said: “They shouldn’t be trying to play games when children’s futures are at stake. I feel besmirched for no reason. It is an attack on the councillors who took decision.

“When we were in power, we always said we wanted to open two schools, one in Swiss Cottage there, and one south of Euston Road, and we took steps to do that. The accusations Labour are making are desperately trying to hide the fact they’ve not been able to get a school open.”

The row was rekindled after Labour began discussing options for a council site in Wren Street, Holborn.  The Tories and Lib Dems had previously designated it for a new school.

Labour chief Cllr Sarah Hayward said last month the Tories had placed “a school in Hampstead and Kilburn to try and fight out the parliamentary seat”.

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Street site not for sale

Published 2 May 2013

Your story on the new UCL Academy (Tories accused in school site votes row, April 25) contains an inaccuracy about the Wren Street site being earmarked for sale, which is not the case.

We have made it clear on a number of occasions that we are not planning to sell Wren Street, including in the council leaders reply to a question at the last full council meeting on April 15.

I would like to emphasise yet again that despite government policy changes making it harder to deliver, we have made significant progress on delivering a new secondary school south of Euston Road.

AngelaMasonCllr Angela Mason

Cabinet Member for Children

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We Need More School Places

EveStandardLetters: Evening Standard

24th April 2013


The school places shortage raises two different issues: the challenge of providing more school buildings, and of recruiting enough teachers.

In terms of capital spending, my understanding is that the free school budget is already committed.  In its entirety it would pay for 200 new schools.  To meet the scale of the problem we need to extend existing schools and develop new ones.  As yet, we have no pupil performance data or Ofsted inspection reports to show whether free schools will succeed or not.

Local authorities have a statutory responsibility to ensure there are sufficient school places yet, as your report points out, they cannot insist that academies take additional pupils.  Some legislative tidying up is required.

As for additional teachers needed to meet demand, Michael Gove has withdrawn the requirement that free schools must employed teachers.  Thus we could be in a situation where all new schools could technically employ anybody.

Policymakers should be measured and sensible about ways to boost the number of teachers, bringing back experienced former teachers who have left the profession through a targeted retraining programme.

Around the world it is recognised that the biggest factor in educational outcomes is quality of teaching.  Great strides have been made in the teaching of early maths and literacy in the past 15 years; it is important that we continue this trend.

Chris Husbands, Institute of Education

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Location, Location, Location

Labour claim location of new UCL Academy school was swayed by Tory general election strategy

Published: 25 April, 2013
  Camden New Journal


catchmentareas400pxTHE new UCL Academy was placed in Swiss Cottage by Conservative councillors in the hope that opening a high-achieving new secondary school would win them key parliamentary votes, Labour councillors have claimed.

In a bitter row over schooling in the borough, Camden’s Labour group publicly accused the Tories at last Monday’s full council meeting of choosing the location for the school with election votes in mind. The accusation has been hinted at many times but has never been made so explicitly and openly before.

The Conservatives, who helped get the oversubscribed UCL Academy school in Adelaide Road up and running while junior partners in a power-sharing pact with the Lib Dems for four years up until Labour’s return to power in 2010, have flatly denied a secret strategy was in place.

The issue boiled over after the Tories questioned the Labour regime over the campaign to open a secondary school south of the Euston Road. During the old Lib Dem/ Conservative coalition, council-owned lock-ups in Wren Street were designated as a site for a new secondary school. Labour has now earmarked the land for sale.

Council leader Sarah Hayward, who last month attended the opening of the UCL Academy, the borough’s only academy school, told Tory critics at last Monday’s meeting: “We have done a significant amount of work on a school south of the Euston Road. We haven’t fleshed it all out in public because there are a lot of details to work out, but we are making significant progress.

“Ask anyone in the campaign for a new school for more than a decade whether we have been working hard to open a new school south of the Euston Road and the overwhelming answer will be yes, compared with what your administration did in four years, which was to ignore the existence of the Wren Street site to place a school in Hampstead and Kilburn to try and fight out the parliamentary seat.”

The claim is that the  issue took on a political dimension because the Conservatives had high hopes of unseating Labour MP Glenda Jackson in the 2010 general election and felt a new school would be a perfect tonic for the campaign.

AOHolborn ward Labour councillor Awale Olad said: “Our school is in your ward, which you guys cynically took up to your part of the world to try and get some votes from it. And what happened: you still lost. Glenda Jackson is still the MP.”

A council decision proven to have been taken primarily for electoral gain could potentially be open to challenge in the courts.

Conservative group leader Councillor Andrew Mennear, who was Camden’s schools chief during the coalition years, said his group had always campaigned for two schools – one in the north and one in the south, backing up their pledge with the designation of the Wren Street land.

Wren Street SignHe said: “We respect the fact the Labour cabinet has tried to find a site south of the Euston Road, but those plans have not come off. At the same time it is earmarking Wren Street site for disposal, which previously all members of the council earmarked to keep.”

Cllr Mennear  added: “I take strong issue for the council to say that it has made significant progress on delivering a school south of the Euston Road.

Government changes have made it easier to look at smaller sites, to allow people to set up free schools, and allow more hope for young people to have schools closer to the community they live [in].”

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