The government requires parent groups applying to establish new schools to demonstrate that there is sufficient parental demand for the type of school they are proposing.
Our campaign carried out a comprehensive and widespread survey of parents in this community to measure demand for a local secondary school. This was limited to parents of children aged nine or under because the timeframe of when the school could open meant that children any older would be too old to join the first year 7 intake. The article posted below is an extract from the survey final report.
Family circumstances and national origins of the community living south of Euston Road are hugely diverse; yet the children play together in local playgrounds, become friends and most attend local primary schools – together. They grow up together until the age of eleven, when they are split up between dozens of different secondary schools outside the SER area. Outside their community.
Seventy-five per cent of families who took part in the survey live in the SER area, with nearly all the others resident in adjacent neighbourhoods in Camden, Islington and Westminster.
Families who filled in questionnaires had in total 971 children aged 0-9, of whom 60% were in the 5-9 age group.
The vast majority of children at primary school were attending Argyle, Christopher Hatton, St. Alban’s, St. George the Martyr and St. Joseph’s (all in the SER area) and Soho Parish school. Several other schools were mentioned by a few people.
The survey asked whether the parent(s) would be interested in sending their children to a new local secondary school and provided information about the kind of school the campaign was seeking to establish.
|Yes, definitely interested||80%|
|Maybe, I would need more information||16%|
|No, I’m satisfied with current provision||1%|
Interest in the prospect of a new school is perhaps unsurprising. However, the number of parents who expressed satisfaction with the current situation was exceptionally small. Of the six who said ‘No, I’m satisfied with current provision’, two lived in the SER area, one in north Camden and the other three some distance away in other boroughs. The following comments help to explain this pattern of response.
Parents were asked ‘Is there anything else you would like to tell us?’ The written responses echoed the enthusiasm voiced by parents at the school gates. Many of the selection (printed below) are short and to the point:
“We need a secondary school urgently.”
“Most definitely due for a long time.”
“I agree very strongly with this proposal”.
Other responses endorsed the vision of The Holborn School as a local school working with the local community, for example:
“….It would be really good for this community to have a local secondary school, not only would it make life easier for families, but it would be very likely to enable the creation of a more effective and unified community, which in turn would help with youth crime and social problems.”
“Community is important to children and we need a secondary school to keep our community intact.”
“I wholeheartedly support this campaign. In addition to the obvious benefits educationwise, I believe this school has a vital part to play in the social cohesion of our area and is something that will benefit all residents irrespective of their demographic.”
“We would definitely send both our children to a local secondary school as long as it is not a faith school. We have a fantastic community locally, partly because of the excellent services for children that Camden provides. But that gets splintered as the children all go to secondary schools all over London.”
“Among the main concerns for a secondary school are social issues such as violence and drugs. I believe a local school, where parents are neighbours and form a closer community, can help abate this and provide a better atmosphere for the kids.”
The issue of travel to secondary schools outside the area emerged as a cause of concern. For most children, this means using public transport in the Central London rush hour, perhaps to an area with which the parent is unfamiliar.
“We really need a secondary school south of Euston Road. I really don’t want my child to travel long distance to school.”
“I think it is important that there is some continuity in a child’s schooling and they attend schools with children they have grown up with. Also important not to have a long commute by bus or train for health and safety reasons.”
Lack of effective school choice was another issue:
“There is too little choice of secondary school in the centre. It would be great if a new school can be built.”
“….Our children have no choice – they have to rely on extremely resourceful parents to ensure they get placed somewhere they can learn. I have one child in secondary school and still have no idea where her sister will go at secondary level – not because of what I choose but because there is no guarantee about where she will be offered a place based on where we live.”
“The project is exciting and of keen interest as the secondary school options for people living in our area seem so limited. The idea of creating a community around a school is encouraging.”
Estimates of child population used by Camden Council indicate that there are over 200 children in each year-group living in the SER area – that is 2,000+ aged 0-9. The survey covered families with nearly 1,000 children in this age range and, even discounting those outside the SER area, it represents a very large sample compared to most surveys. And there is no reason to believe that the views expressed were unrepresentative of the total population.