Posts filed under ‘Secondary schools’
Author: article on Bolingbroke Academy website
The public consultation on the academy proposals took place in autumn 2010. The full consultation report can be read here.
ARK held initial information sessions about the academy building plans in May 2011, followed by two pre-planning consultation sessions in July 2011.
ARK and Wandsworth Council have been working with contractor Carillion PLC to develop the academy design and are now able to share the detailed plans with local parents and residents.
The plans show a new four form entry secondary academy and excellent new facilities for the Heritage Medical Practice. During the remodelling process we will work closely with English Heritage to preserve the period features protected under the building’s Grade II listing.
Carillion PLC have developed a design that preserves the building’s features and provides a high quality environment for the new school. The design includes additional staircases to improve the circulation around the building at lesson changes. Renewable energy technology is proposed in the form of photo voltaic cells fitted on the flat roofs.
The medical practice will be located on the Lower Ground floor with its own separate entrance on Wakehurst Road and its own comfortable waiting room.
To share your views about the plans with the school, please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Cyril Richert
Belleville Primary School to become Academy
According to a recent press report from Wandsworth Council, Belleville Primary School in Battersea has applied for academy status under the Government’s education reforms.
The governing bodies at both schools have now voted in favour of applying for academy status following consultations with staff, parents, pupils and their local communities.
f their bids are approved by the Department for Education (DfE) it would mean the schools have greater powers of independence and are funded directly by central government rather than through the council.
Bolingbroke High School converted from “free School” status to Academy
The borough’s first ‘free school’ is set to open in the former Bolingbroke Hospital building in September 2012. Local parents’ group the Neighbourhood School Campaign has successfully applied to convert the building into the new Bolingbroke Academy which would be run by education charity ARK Schools.
Bolingbroke Academy would be independent of the council and free to attend for local children.
ARK Schools that will be running the new Bolingbroke Academy free school in Battersea has appointed the head teacher who will be in charge when it opens to pupils next year.
The educational charity has appointed Claire Edis as the founding principal of the academy. Ms Edis is currently the deputy headteacher of Parliament Hill School in Camden – a girls’ comprehensive with a mixed sixth form.
Her appointment has been welcomed by the council’s spokesman on schools and education. Cllr Kathy Tracey said: “This is a top line appointment and further proof that this new free school is going to offer a very attractive choice to parents of secondary age children in this part of the borough. The day that this free school opens its gates is now drawing closer and closer…”
[By the way, I thought that the Council said that it was no longer a free school as it was converted into an Academy now... The terms are not that easy to understand as there is some confusion inside the Council itself.]
The school, which will open on the site of Battersea’s former Bolingbroke Hospital will admit its first 120 Year 7 pupils next September and will continue growing each year until full. It will have four forms of entry each academic year.
The academy will have the normal admissions rules of a state funded school with most pupils joining from five feeder primary schools – Belleville, Falconbrook, High View, Honeywell and Wix.
It is promising a “rigorous academic education” that will prepare all its pupils for university courses.
The curriculum will have excellent English and mathematics at its core, to provide the strongest possible educational platform from which all subjects can be taught effectively. The school will set very high achievement targets for all pupils and will organise its curriculum and teaching to make it possible for all pupils to reach their targets.
A full curriculum will be in place to age 14 including all current National Curriculum subjects including separate sciences, design/technology and IT, as well as music, drama, foreign languages, art and sport. The curriculum for pupils entering the school with attainment below age level will be designed to accelerate their progress so that they can participate fully in the whole curriculum.
From age 14 the school will offer a full programme of GCSEs, together with a selection of other courses to ensure a programme which challenges and meets the needs of all pupils. The expectation will be that almost all pupils should continue to study at least one humanity and a language to age 16.
From the age of 16 the school will offer a full programme of A levels, together with a selection of other courses to ensure a programme which challenges and meets the needs of all pupils. Other course options such as International Baccalaureate and Pre-U will also be considered for inclusion nearer the opening date, when the likely extent of demand for such programmes can be determined.
The idea for a new free school on the Bolingbroke site started when a group of local parents set up the Neighbourhood School Campaign (NSC) to campaign for a non-selective, socially inclusive, non-denominational secondary school in this part of Battersea.
Author: Cyril Richert
Wandsworth Council has exchanged contracts to buy the former Bolingbroke Hospital in Battersea so it can be used as a new state secondary school, councillors heard tonight.
The purchase was discussed during the meeting of the finance and corporate resources overview and scrutiny committee, on January 19, 2011.
The refurbishment and future running costs of Bolingbroke Academy will be met by central government. Wandsworth Council will retain the freehold for the building.
As a consequence, the proposed planning application submitted by St George’s NHS Trust to make residential accommodation is withdrawn (you might remember that we objected HERE).
Last October, we were pointing out that the Director of Finance said that “any Priority Purchase by the Council would need to be met from government grant which is currently unconfirmed“. But we also confirmed in our analysis of the Government’s spending review that “the Free School measure being a key part of the government policy it [was] difficult to envisage that they could deny the support needed for one of the most advanced free school dossier in the country [and] further elements (including funding for Wandsworth) could be unveiled before the end of the year“.
We cannot write yet how much was paid for the purchase (the report for the Committee says: This report contains exempt information and is therefore not available to the public.)
Once the deal is complete the building will be leased to a local parents group (the current Neighbourhood School Campaign) which will turn it into a ‘free school’. You can read our analysis of the report that was presented in September before the Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The NSC has been campaigning for a non-selective, non-denominational school since 2009. In May 2010, the NSC chose ARK , to set up and operate the new school. The paper showed before the Committee explained with details (5 page report but with 17 page appendix including the proposal form) the aim and objective of the school.
Author: Cyril Richert
Below is the letter I addressed to the planning application department.
Planning Application 2010/4235 – Bolingbroke site
29th October 2010
We are writing in response to the application 2010/4235 for the alteration, extension and part demolition of the former hospital to provide 50 residential flats and space for some health facilities.
Some comments on the consultation responses
On the Council’s website, 421 objections have been received, compared with 2 people supporting the idea of luxury residential units in the area. Although the number of objections could be related to the successful campaign to make the site a school, those who bothered to show their interest to the council and raise their concern should be actually praised for their participation.
APPLETON is labelled wrongly as support but this is an objection.
Only WILSON and RUSSEL-FISHER are truly supportive messages. However I was surprised (puzzled to say the least) by the argument made by one of the supporters that there is a “blatant attempt to manipulate the planning process in favour of those who would impose their somewhat absurd and ill-conceived proposition on a community that is comprised of far wider population than the self-interested short-sighted group that is promoting the “free-school” concept“.
The facts are that a lot of young parents have to move away from Clapham Junction area and Northcote where their children were attending primary schools for a simple reason: as it was demonstrated by the Neighbourhood School Campaign (NSC), there is a lack of secondary schools. The current situation often leaves the parents with no other choice but to move away.
A wide support for a secondary school, including from St George Trust itself!
As often highlighted in documents published over the past 2 years making the case for a secondary school for the area, 2,000 parents have signed the NSC’s petition supporting the creation of a new school in the Northcote ward, idea supported by the Martin Linton and Jane Ellison (former and current Battersea MPs) and the ward Councillors.
According to David Canzini (a member of that team in charge of processing the application for St George’s Healthcare Trust) “the residential application does not preclude or prejudice other uses for the site, such as a school. The Trust and project team have been proactively engaged with Wandsworth Council (LBW), Partnership for Schools and the Neighbourhood School Campaign over the issue of a secondary school on the site“.
The reason behind the application
The Primary Care Trust (PCT) and SGT claim that although the Trust and project team have been proactively engaged with Wandsworth Council (LBW), Partnership for Schools and the NSC over the issue of a secondary school on the site, unfortunately to date, no financial offer has been made to buy the site within the timescale that is vital to the Trust. As they are looking to raise money to enhance services in St Georges Hospital (Tooting), they need the sale to be completed within the financial year (31 March 2011). Therefore they have put forward a plan to transform the Bolingbroke buildings into high standard residential, in order to maximise the value of the site.
David Canzini said that although Wandsworth Council made a proposal to buy the site, they have not shown any financial commitment and therefore the Trust faces the obligation to provide a plan B, should the funding promised by the Council not be existent/sufficient.
On the other side, the Council denies such claim and distributed a leaflet claiming that information in the consultation document is misleading and asked for this to be corrected.
However, on Tuesday 21st September 2010, the Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee confirmed the argument made by St George Trust: the Council would acquire the site on the basis that the costs of any Priority Purchase would be met in full by the government. Priority purchase would be undertaken on the basis that the Council would acquire the site for educational purposes and the site would continue to be used for the public benefit. Any Priority Purchase by the Council would need to be met from government grant which is currently unconfirmed, as noted by the Director of Finance.
In the aim to maximize the price of the site and to establish its market value, St George’s Trust (SGT) and the Wandsworth Primary Care Trust (PCT) have put forward a plan to transform the Bolingbroke buildings into high standard residential flats. Their purpose is to provide the Council with the best value of the site, while maintaining their obligation to provide a plan B should the public authority be unable to provide funding.
Objections to the application
There are a large number of issues that should prevent the planning approval such as the prime necessity to keep the building as a public site (which would be achieved with the school) and the obligation to liaise with the Council to achieve the best public usage of the site.
As highlighted by Northcote ward Councillors, the following specific issues will need to be addressed:
- The protection of the important features that led to the Bolingbroke being designated last year as a Grade 2 listed building; in particular the preservation of the nursery rhyme tiles
- The proposed conversion of the listed building to mainly residential flats will require major intervention and subdivision of the building’s interior
- The loss of significant and long established public facilities if the building is redeveloped for mainly residential flats rather than for other community usage
Beside all this debate, you may consider that the Bolingbroke site was acquired, through public subscription and charitable gifts, by John Erskine Clarke at the end of the 19th century, whose aim was to provide public health service for the residents of Battersea. It would be a shame to see the memory of the great man to be betrayed 120 years later and the site to be sold to private interests on profit consideration only.
In addition, considering that:
- the sole purpose of the current application to provide residential flats is to raise money within the timescale that is vital to the Trust to enhance services in St Georges Hospital (Tooting);
- it is acknowledged by all parties (including St George Trust itself) that the site could be used for a secondary school, providing that the government/the council is meeting the cost to acquire the site;
- the need for a secondary school in the area has been demonstrated;
- the Bolingbroke site is a public facility and considering any other use will be a considerable loss for the community
the application should be refused.
On behalf of the Clapham Junction Action Group
 Email received on Friday 3 September from David B. Canzini
 Report by the Director Children’s Services on a proposal by ARK Academies with the Neighbourhood Schools Campaign (NSC) to establish a Free School on the Bolingbroke Hospital site, comment 16 page 4.
The criticism of the current school campaign
Albeit objecting to any attempt to prevent the Bolingbroke site to remain as a public facility and potentially developed as a much needed school in the area of Clapham Junction, we are aware that part of the campaign to choose a secondary school can be criticised.
On Tuesday May 4th, the Evening Standard reported that five education groups have been in contact with the Wandsworth campaign so far. Two are education charities that sponsor state-funded city academies in London, Ark and the Harris Federation. The three others are private and overseas school firms — Sweden’s International English Schools, WCL and Cognita.
We understand that in May 2010, the NSC chose ARK Academies to set up and operate the new school. It would have been interesting to have a public explanation on the choice and the possibility to compare openly the different competitors, but it seems that the decision was taken behind closed doors.
Although there is a record of achievement from ARK to achieve good results in deprived area (mainly focusing on Maths and English), it would be interesting to know the arguments behind the rejection of Harris, Cognita, or any other organisation which responded to the bid for running a Free School.
Last but not least, the Council should share a responsibility in the current situation by misleading the public on the real financial stakes.
- NORTHCOTE WARD E-bulletin – October 2010
- Bolingbroke Hospital application: the school campaign urges you to write to the Council
- Free secondary school proposal revealed, but money still unconfirmed by government
Author: Cyril Richert
The St George’s trust organised an exhibition in September for their pre-consultation on proposals for new flats and health facilities on the Bolingbroke site (read our previous article HERE and the report on the event THERE).
On the planning idea itself, members of the NSC raised a number of issues that could prevent the planning approval, such as the prime necessity to keep the building as a public site (which would be achieved with the school) and the obligation to liaise with the Council to achieve the best public usage of the site.
Now this has reached the planning application level with application 2010/4235 (click on the link to see the different document on the Council’s website). Wandsworth council is inviting YOUR comments before 28th October.
We received the following message from Neighbourhood School Campaign:
Dear NSC supporter
We need YOUR help today at a critical time in the school campaign. Everyone is ‘time poor’ but if you do one thing only to help the campaign then NOW is the time to do so – it will take you less than 2 minutes and involve sending a single email to Wandsworth council. Please read on.
The NSC Team
PS. This is YOUR campaign. Without YOUR ongoing support and help the school campaign would not have succeeded to date. Please spare us a few more mintues at this important phase of the campaign. Together – as a community – we are winning.
The local NHS Trust – owners of the Bolingbroke hospital – has recently submitted a ‘residential planning application’ to Wandsworth council. They want the old hospital to be converted to luxury flats. The NSC opposes this on the basis that it fails to address the needs of the local community. A new state funded secondary school, available to local children of all backgrounds and abilities, is urgently needed.
Wandsworth council is inviting YOUR comments before 28th October on the NHS plans to convert the former Bolingbroke hospital to flats. It’s vital that YOU now oppose this planning application and make clear YOUR support for the new secondary school.
Failure to act now and allow the residential application to succeed would potentially add a significant sum of money to the eventual sale price the council will have to pay to acquire the Bolingbroke site from the NHS. Remember – the council has ‘preferred bidder’ status to acquire the site. Without a ‘change of use’ to residential, the market value of the site will be less. The lower the total capital cost of the school, the more likely it is to succeed.
Want to help? Great! Here’s how…
WHAT TO DO
It’s as easy as 1-2-3:
1. Email the Wandsworth council planners at email@example.com
2. Quote planning application ref 2010/4235 in the header;
3. Confirm in your email that you favour the site to be used for our much needed secondary school and object to the NHS planning application. If you wish you can mention that you favour the school on the basis of the councils UDP policy clauses CS3 and CS4, in addition to current government policy supporting Free Schools.
That’s it. Simple. Act NOW! Only concerted action will succeed. Please do not assume someone else will take the time to email so you don’t have to. Please do it now while you can. Thank you.
The NSC Team
PS. Two minutes now to email the council will make a big difference to your child’s education. Take action together and the politicians take notice. To quote Shelley “Rise like lions. Ye are many, they are few”.
- Free secondary school proposal revealed, but money still unconfirmed by government
- Pre-consultation exhibition for residential proposal on the Bolingbroke site
- Spending review 2010
Author: Cyril Richert
The Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee met on Tuesday, 21st September, 2010 and had on its agenda to consider report by the Director Children’s Services on a proposal by ARK Academies with the Neighbourhood Schools Campaign (NSC) to establish a Free School on the Bolingbroke Hospital site.
It comes after the St George’s trust organised an exhibition for their pre-consultation on proposals for new flats and health facilities on site.
Evidence of demand for a new secondary school
In the report considered by the Committee, ARK’s proposal states that 2,000 parents have signed the NSC’s petition supporting the creation of a new school in the Northcote ward. It argues that:
- Wandsworth has one of the lowest proportions (48%) of parents being offered their first choice of school in London (probably not only “due to the success of local schools” as added in the Leader of the Council’s letter, although families do indeed target Wandsworth). In 2009, 27.8% of Wandsworth secondary pupils went to another authority to attend school.
- Seven of the Borough’s 11 secondary schools are oversubscribed. Of the four that have surplus places, two are Catholic schools (John Paul II and Salesian – where non-Catholics are not offered places on religious grounds) and the remaining have relatively low GCSE results (Elliott is currently in special measures).
Only 27% of the 500 or so 11-15 year olds resident in Northcote ward currently attend Wandsworth maintained secondary schools. Except Burntwood, a single sex girl’s school which has 44 in the Northcote ward, the nearest schools to the Bolingbroke site, Battersea Park and Chestnut Grove, only have five and six of their current pupils (May 2010 school census) living in the Northcote ward, so they do not seem significantly at risk of losing pupils. Southfields Community College has 18 pupils living in the ward but, as an outstanding school in Ofsted inspections, is again unlikely to lose many pupils. Elliott School has ten pupils living in the ward and would almost certainly lose some to the Free School. The Free School would probably take some pressure off Graveney School, which is currently heavily oversubscribed.
The Free School proposal
The paper explained with details (5 page report but with 17 page appendix including the proposal form) the aim and information of the proposal by ARK to run a Free School . The NSC has been campaigning for a non-selective, non-denominational school since 2009. In May 2010, the NSC chose ARK , to set up and operate the new school. In the proposal form they explain the aim and objective of the school:
The NSC’s aim is to create a small, socially inclusive neighbourhood secondary school, where teaching and learning enable pupils to become knowledgeable, confident, competent and self reliant citizens, fully prepared for adult life and the world of work. The school and parents will work in partnership to ensure every child fulfils their potential.
The NSC and ARK share a belief in high aspirations, high motivation and high achievement in and for all pupils, irrespective of their start in life. In particular, we aim to ensure that every pupil makes enough progress by age 18 to have real options: to move into higher education or follow the career path of their choice.
The school will be a five form entry secondary school, ideally located on the site of the disused Bolingbroke Hospital at the edge of Wandsworth Common. It will be non-selective and non-denominational, open to all local children. After prioritising children with special educational needs and children in public care, straight-line distance will probably be the main admissions criterion.
The school will be part of the network of ARK schools sharing curriculum, teaching and learning practices, pastoral practices and administrative services. All ARK schools operate within one academy Trust, ARK Academies, with a local governing body for each school and a single ARK Academies board of trustees. To achieve our ambitious aim, ARK will bring together experienced teachers and education professionals to deliver a rigorous educational model which results in an outstanding local school. The key principles of this model are:
- High expectations for: -Pupil achievement and behaviour; -Staff professionalism, skill and commitment
- Rigorous and engaging lessons
- Respect for teachers and a calm, orderly environment
- Continuing assessment and responsive support for each pupil
- Depth before breadth: an emphasis on literacy and maths
- More time for learning
- Larger schools broken down into smaller units: schools-within-schools
- Aspirational identity
- Motivational culture
- Strong partnership with parents
The school they propose would have five forms of entry of 150 pupils and a sixth form of 200.
Choice of site and admission policy
The NSC has identified the site of the former Bolingbroke hospital as the potential site for the academy (Bolingbroke Grove, London SW11 6HN).
According to the report presented before the Committee, Partnerships for Schools (PfS – the non-departmental public body set up to deliver Building Schools for the Future – BSF) has identified the Eltrincham Street depot (Clapham Junction train depot?) as a possible option, although is not the NSC’s preferred site.
It is proposed that the school open in temporary accommodation (if this can be provided) as early as September 2011. The school would then move into its permanent buildings in September 2013.
Temporary accommodation could potentially be provided in demountables on site or through phased occupation of the Bolingbroke site. The preferred option, however, would be to open the school at the Vines School site, as suggested by PfS.
The CJAG visitor will remember that this is also this location that is proposed to welcome the extension of Belleville primary school next year. Therefore the Council said that an opening in 2012 on the Bolingbroke site as a more realistic target (in addition an opening as early as September 2011 can only be achieved by a change in legislation as currently application form must be made by 31 October 2010).
The Council also understands that the NSC is proposing straight-line distance to be the main admissions criterion. It recommends to use the shortest walking route with street lighting (as other schools in the borough) although the use of Wandsworth Common beside could be a shorter path.
Cost of refurbishment
The disused Bolingbroke hospital is owned by the NHS and located in the centre of the ‘secondary gap’ in Wandsworth. It is a listed building, which would require significant refurbishment to operate as a school.
The NSC commissioned HKS Architects to undertake some feasibility work and estimated remodelling and refurbishment costs in the region of £20m
PfS have carried out their own studies and indicated costs in the region of £11.35m for 4 form of entry (FE) with a fifth form of 150 with a total area of 7275m2 (less than the area which would be required to meet the DfE BB98 guidelines). For a 5FE school with a sixth form of 200, costs are estimated at £14.13m with a total area of 8875m2. There is some new build in both options to create an indoor sports facility and multi-purpose hall.
Therefore the Council recommends that the school should be 4FE in size with a 150 place sixth form only (but leaves the door open for the NSC to submit further specific evidence on the source and scale of demand for new places), thus reducing the cost. However further studies will have to be made to estimated properly the overall cost in any case.
Priority purchase possible but funding unconfirmed
In his letter (appendix to the report), Councillor Edward Lister said that the Borough Valuer has been progressing discussions with the NHS St George’s Trust to investigate the possibility of a ‘priority purchase’ under the provisions of the Estate Code.
The Council would acquire the site on the basis that the costs of any Priority Purchase would be met in full by the government. Priority purchase would be undertaken on the basis that the Council would acquire the site for educational purposes and the site would continue to be used for the public benefit. Any Priority Purchase by the Council would need to be met from government grant which is currently unconfirmed, as noted by the Director of Finance (comment 16 page 4).
It confirms what David Canzini said to me when we met at the exhibition on September 11th: although Wandsworth Council made a proposal to buy the site, they have not shown any money commitment and therefore the Trust faces the obligation to provide a plan B, should the funding promised by the Council not be existent/sufficient.
According to the leader of the Council, the NHS Trust has been asked to provide information on their valuer’s opinion of the open market value of the site and on the conversion design, planning and other assumptions on which that valuation is based. This information has been promised and is awaited.
In the aim to maximize the price of the site and to establish its market value, St George’s Trust (SGT) and the Wandsworth Primary Care Trust (PCT) have put forward a plan to transform the Bolingbroke buildings into high standard residential. Their purpose is to provide the Council with the best value of the site, while maintaining their obligation to provide a plan B should the public authority be unable to provide funding.
By acquiring the site for the school with a Priority Purchaser status, rather than ARK or NSC trying to acquire it themselves, the Council prevent the Trust from openly marketing the property. The transaction would be on a negotiated basis at market value, the same as if the Council were to compulsory purchase the property but without a defined Lands Tribunal procedure for resolving any disputes over the price or any binding obligation on the Trust to sell at all and just the Trust’s urgent need for capital driving the transaction. The Priority Purchaser status can therefore avoid the uncertainty of the transaction being exposed to the risks of competitive bidding in the open market but is, however, susceptible to any delays by the Trust who also may seek ways to avoid agreeing the Council’s status as Priority Purchaser if they consider this might not maximise the receipt for the Trust.
Although it is unlikely to cause extended delay as SGT needs the sale to be completed within the financial year (31 March 2011) in order to raise money to enhance services in St Georges Hospital (Tooting).
Jane Ellison and the school campaign
Jane Ellison, MP for Battersea, distributed her latest leaflet this week focused on the Clapham Junction area.
“Jane continues to work with the local Neighbourhood School Campaign and the Council to progress the development of a ‘free school’ on the former Bolingbroke hospital site. She has raised the issue regularly with Secretary of State Michael Gove, who visited Battersea twice during the run-up to the election.“
Indeed Jane Ellison participated to a debate on Free School Policy on House of Commons debates, 21 June 2010 where she raised the attention of Michael Gove on the Neighbourhood School Campaign.
“Jane Ellison (Battersea) (Con): Has the Secretary of State had a chance to meet people from the neighbourhood school campaign in my constituency, who have already made considerable progress towards the establishment of a new secondary school in Wandsworth-a campaign that I note that the shadow Secretary of State supported prior to the election?
Michael Gove: I thank my hon. Friend for that question. I have had an opportunity to meet that idealistic group of parents, and others in Wandsworth. I want to pay tribute to Mr Ron Rooney, Mr Jon De Maria and the other members of the group, who have done so much. My hon. Friend is right: the right hon. Gentleman was warm towards that group when he was in government. Warmth towards the group has also been extended by the local authority-Wandsworth borough council-and its leader, Edward Lister. Like so many other local authorities, it has warmly welcomed this initiative to introduce pluralism, diversity and high quality in the state education system.“
Translating Jane Ellison’s contribution in straight forward English, it means: Did you have time to meet again with the NSC since you are SoS for Education, as you showed interest during campaign for the May election (photo)? And the answer is Yes.
 As defined by the current government, “Free schools are all-ability schools set up in response to parental demand”. In all other respects, Free Schools are academies and they have the same statutory basis as academies. They are thus independent schools and have to comply with Independent School legislation and meet the Independent School Standards (subject to the Ofsted inspections). But Free Schools do not have to comply with National Curriculum although they are required to have a broad and balanced curriculum and to comply with any national testing regime.
The main difference between Free Schools and Academies will be in their establishment. The Academies Act allows maintained schools to convert to academy status but these schools will not be able to choose the Free School route to becoming an academy. Registered independent schools can apply to convert to free schools. The DfE envisages that most free schools will be ‘brand-new schools, set up by charities, universities, business, community or faith groups, teachers and groups of parents where there is parental demand’.
 It would have been interesting to have a public explanation on the choice and the possibility to compare openly the different competitors, but it seems that the decision was taken behind closed doors.
Author: Cyril Richert
NORTHCOTE WARD Special E-bulletin
Building a new school at Bolingbroke Hospital
Welcome to a special Northcote e-bulletin about plans for a new school at the Bolingbroke Hospital. Please forward the bulletin to friends and neighbours.
Cllr Jenny Browne, Cllr Peter Dawson, Cllr Martin Johnson
Northcote Ward, Battersea
Council statement about the Bolingbroke’s future use
Our recent e-bulletin gave information about a pre-planning application exhibition at Chatham Hall that St George’s NHS Trust has arranged of its proposals for the Bolingbroke Hospital site (see details later).
Wandsworth Council has issued the following statement about the leaflet that St George’s delivered in the local area:
“The St George’s NHS Trust is consulting on proposals for new flats and health facilities on the Bolingbroke site.
The main purpose is to establish the market value of the site including the required health provision.
The Trust’s consultation document contains incorrect information regarding the Council’s proposed purchase of the site.
The Council has made the Trust an offer to buy the Bolingbroke site for the provision of both the promised health facilities and a new school.
This offer has been made in accordance with the timescale laid down by the Trust.
The Trust as a public body has a duty to deal with the Council. It cannot sell to another party at this stage.
Negotiations between the Council and the Trust for the site’s purchase have already begun. Once these are completed there will be a fresh planning application which will include the new school alongside the health facilities.
The Council has written to the Trust’s chief executive formally drawing his attention to the misleading information in the consultation document and asked for this to be corrected”.
Jane Ellison, MP for Battersea, and Northcote councillors will be at one of Jane’s “Street Surgeries” on Saturday 11th September between 10am and 11am, at a stall outside the Bolingbroke Bookshop, 147 Northcote Road. This is an opportunity to call by and mention any concerns, local or national, of a non-confidential nature, which you want to raise with us.
The Neighbourhood School Campaign
As we reported in the September e-bulletin Council Leader, Edward Lister has warmly welcomed and expressed support for the proposal to open a new secondary school on the Bolingbroke site that has been submitted to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education by ARK Academies and the Neighbourhood School Campaign.
St George’s NHS Trust Exhibition
The Trust has arranged a pre-planning application exhibition of its proposals for the Bolingbroke site at Chatham Hall, 152 Northcote Road on Friday 10th September (6.30pm to 9pm) and Saturday 11th September (9.30am – 12.30pm).
Read also our articles:
- Pre-consultation exhibition for residential proposal on the Bolingbroke site
- Bolingbroke hospital redeveloped as a residential site?
- No secondary school in Clapham Junction area. Join the campaign!
Author: Cyril Richert
The St George’s trust organised an exhibition for their pre-consultation on proposals for new flats and health facilities on the Bolingbroke site (read our previous article HERE).
The Wandsworth Primary Care Trust (PCT) announced plans to close the Bolingbroke Hospital temporarily and consult the public on moving its services to other locations in the Borough back in 2006. The Bolingbroke hospital was closed the year after, despite a campaign to prevent the closure of the healthcare facility and its services were dispersed, mostly to St John’s Therapy Centre on St John’s Hill. Since then, the PCT and St George’s NHS Trust (SGT – who owns and operated the hospital) have looked for options to sell the site. In 2009, English Heritage awarded the building Grade II listing status (which means the building may not be demolished or altered without special planning permission), due to the building’s architectural interest, a rare set of children’s tiles and its “unusually lavish” marble-clad lobby, war memorials and radiated corridors.
Although the campaign to save the Bolingbroke hospital intended initially to keep a health facility on-site, a new project led by the Neighbourhood School Campaign (NSC) hopes now to use the site to set up a much needed secondary school in Clapham Junction.
The PCT and SGT claim that although the Trust and project team have been proactively engaged with Wandsworth Council (LBW), Partnership for Schools and the NSC over the issue of a secondary school on the site, unfortunately to date, no financial offer has been made to buy the site within the timescale that is vital to the Trust. As they are looking to raise money to enhance services in St Georges Hospital (Tooting), they need the sale to be completed within the financial year (31 March 2011). Therefore they have put forward a plan to transform the Bolingbroke buildings into high standard residential, in order to maximise the value of the site (click on the photos below to see each redevelopment current/proposed).
David Canzini (a member of that team who sent me the information I published last week) explained in more detailed their need to determine the market value of the site. In the book, the Bolingbroke site is worth £7.5m. Some developers have suggested that a residential development might generate up to £20m. Realistically SGT is looking for a value between £10m and £13.5m depending on the success of the planning proposal. He said that although Wandsworth Council made a proposal to buy the site, they have not shown any money commitment and therefore the Trust faces the obligation to provide a plan B, should the funding promised by the Council not be existent/sufficient.
“The Council has made the Trust an offer to buy the Bolingbroke site for the provision of both the promised health facilities and a new school. This offer has been made in accordance to the timescale laid by the Trust. The Trust, as a public body has a duty to deal with the Council. It cannot sell to another party at this stage.
Negotiations between the Council and the Trust for the site’s purchase have already begun. Once the are completed there will be a fresh planning application which will include the new school alongside the health facilities.
The Council has written to the Trust’s chief executive formally drawing his attention to the misleading information in the consultation document and asked for this to be corrected.“
We haven’t seen the letter from the Council, therefore it is difficult to draw any line on who’s telling the truth. It could well be that, depending on each side, the views are partially correct: Wandsworth Council could have made an offer close to the book value and is looking for some additional money from the Education Secretary. As the outcome of the UK wide 2010 Spending Review is due to be announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 20 October 2010, there is currently no certainty that any more money will top-up the Council’s offer. Therefore SGT is claiming that, to date, no [reliable] financial offer has been made to buy the site.
On the planning proposal itself, members of the NSC raised a number of issues that could prevent the planning approval, such as the prime necessity to keep the building as a public site (which would be achieved with the school) and the obligation to liaise with the Council to achieve the best public usage of the site.
Beside all this debate, it was brought to my attention that the Bolingbroke site was acquired, through public subscription and charitable gifts, by John Erskine Clarke at the end of the 19th century, whose aim was to provide public health service for the residents of Battersea. It would be a shame to see the memory of the great man to be betrayed 120 years later and the site to be sold to private interests on profit consideration only.
Author: Cyril Richert
The campaign for a secondary school
A lot of talks have been going for the past 12 months on the need to have a new secondary school in the area of Clapham Junction. The Neighbourhood School Campaign has launched an initiative to set-up a free school at the proposed site of the Bolingbroke hospital.
The “Bolingbroke team” as we could nickname it, has selected the educational specialists ARK Schools, a charity which has already set up academies across London, such as Evelyn Grace in Brixton and Ark Academy in Wembley. Setting up a free school is not that simple, from the selection of the organisation in charge of running it, to the level of education provided. If the school goes ahead, then Ark should appoint the teaching staff and run the school as an academy with direct funding from the government.
The parent promoters of the school have met with Michael Gove and even with David Cameron, but that does not mean the school will definitely go ahead. Budgets are tight and the new schools model has yet to be fully defined. The Neighbourhood Schools Campaign has an excellent case however. There are simply no state secondary schools within a 7 square mile area centred on the Bolingbroke site, and year 6 children leaving the local primaries scatter to as many as 49 different secondary schools. The Bolingbroke would make an excellent site for a 5-form entry school (i.e. around 900 students including a sixth form) and both Ark and the parent promoters are committed to working with the Council to ensure that local residents are properly consulted.
The NHS is proposing to use the old Bolingbroke site for residential
However the NHS is proposing an alternative plan this autumn in order to maximise the value of the site.
St George’s Healthcare Trust (SGHT) are looking to sell the old Bolingbroke Hospital site to raise much needed funds for healthcare in Wandsworth and South London . The sale needs to take place within the current financial year so that the vital investment that the Trust has identified from the Bolingbroke sale; including an extension to St George’s A&E department and expansion of its resuscitation department where major trauma patients are admitted; can be delivered. The Trust is mandated to achieve the best price for the disposal of its assets and is dedicated to fulfilling its promise to the local community by providing space within the new development for the PCT, (NHS Wandsworth).
The best professional advice given to the Trust has indicated that the maximum sale value for the site will be realised by achieving planning permission for a PCT/ residential development and that is what the project team will be conducting a pre-application consultation on.
The consultation exhibition will take place on Friday 10th (evening) and Saturday 11th (morning) September and a leaflet giving some details and inviting people to the exhibition has been delivered to approximately 10,000 homes around the Bolingbroke site (download HERE).
According to David Canzini (a member of that team who sent me the information) the PCT / residential application does not preclude or prejudice other uses for the site, such as a school. The Trust and project team have been proactively engaged with Wandsworth Council (LBW), Partnership for Schools and the Neighbourhood School Campaign over the issue of a secondary school on the site. Although there has been considerable progress made, unfortunately to date, no financial offer has been made to buy the site within the timescale that is vital to the Trust.
The key issues for the Trust in selling the Bolingbroke site are:
- Timescale (sale completed within the financial year)
- Maximum value to re-invest in healthcare
- Provision for the PCT
The proposed development would include:
- 1600sq m for PCT use
- 50 apartments
- Mix of 2, 3 and 4 bed
- Included 30% affordable (social rented and shared)
- 44 underground car parking spaces (no residents permits allowed)
- 58 cycle spaces
- Sensitive landscaping
- Highest quality design and build
- No increase in height or width of building
- Traffic studies show residential and PCT use has least impact on local residents
Are we going to have a secondary school in the area? Do you want more residential in the neighbourhood? Is it going to increase the pressure on the already over-subscribed primary schools in Northcote ward?
It is important to give your opinion and attend the pre-application exhibition:
on Friday 10th September 2010
from 6.30pm – 9.00pm
and Saturday 11th September 2010
from 9.30am – 12.30pm
at Main Hall, Chatham Hall,
152 Northcote Road, SW11 6RD
Author: Cyril Richert
A story on the Neighbourhood School Campaign for a secondary school in the area of Clapham Junction (possible site being the former Bolingbroke hospital) was published in the Evening Standard on Tuesday 4th. They said:
Firms including Cognita, set up by former Ofsted boss Chris Woodhead, have held talks with the parent campaigners about operating the school.
Shadow children’s secretary Michael Gove welcomed the news, describing the companies as “excellent education providers”. [...]
Five education groups have been in contact with the Wandsworth campaign so far. Two are education charities that sponsor state-funded city academies in London, Ark and the Harris Federation. The three others are private and overseas school firms — Sweden’s International English Schools, WCL and Cognita. [...]
Sources said Cognita was treating the Wandsworth project “seriously” but is waiting for the outcome of Thursday’s election before taking the plans any further.
For the Labour, Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, did also promise help and support for a new school for Battersea, as reported by Martin Linton, former MP for the area. Ed Balls, wrote to Wandsworth Council in March 2010 (PDF), to let them know he would try to help the council allocate some of the £300 million pounds it has for improving education in Battersea, towards a new school.
Now with Michael Gove acting as the new Schools Secretary, taking his brief in opposition with him into government, there is a chance to see a definite move and the possibility for the Conservatives council to work with the government to select a firm to operate the school. Cognita, which was waiting for the election result to see which team was in charge, should now be in a position to go ahead with their proposal.
As per comment from Kate Williams below: Cognita are no longer in the running to run the proposed school at the Bolingbroke. The selected education provider is Ark, a not-for-profits organisation who already run eight successful academies, 6 in London. If the school goes ahead, then Ark will appoint the teaching staff and run the school as an academy with direct funding from the government.