Belleville and Alderbrook: primary school consultation

Author: Cyril Richert

We have published a series of articles on the Belleville primary school extension and the choice of primary school in Clapham Junction area over this summer (read our series HERE).

As promised this summer (read the bottom of our article HERE) Wandsworth Council is now running a consultation on primary school admissions in the Northcote, Shaftesbury and Balham Wards and the expansion of Alderbrook School.

The Council is considering the establishment of a geographical priority area for admission to Belleville Primary School from September 2012 and the establishment of a secondary geographical priority area for admission to Belleville Primary School, around its satellite site in Forthbridge Road SW11 5NX, from September 2012 (similar to plan B explained in our article on Solutions for Belleville extension).

You can download the Belleville and Alderbrook Consultation document and a copy of the Proposed Priority Areas for Local Schools Map showing the proposed priority areas for admissions.

Here is the map (click on the image to see bigger) with colours for the two catchment areas (priority zones):

The council does use Geographical Priority Areas at some other schools in the Borough. These are a fixed catchment areas i.e. specific shaped area not just distance and one school Beatrix Potter has a first and second priority area with admission priority following that (Children living in the first priority area are given priority over those living in the second priority area. However, living in either priority area does not guarantee a place at the school. This will depend on the demand for places from people living in the priority areas in a particular year.)

The Biggest effect of GPAs however is on sibling admission. Siblings only get priority admission if they STILL live in the GPA. The idea to use priority areas for Belleville primary school (with extension in Forthbridge road) was raised by Councillor Kathy Tracey.

You should also see our previous articles:

Questions asked by the Council are (do you agree Yes/No):

  1. Should the Council designate a geographical priority area for admission to Belleville School?
  2. Should the Council additionally designate a second priority area for admission to Belleville school?
  3. Alternatively, should the Council make no change to the current admission arrangements for Belleville school?

Alderbrook Primary School to double form of entry

The Council is also consulting on a proposal to expand Alderbrook Primary School from one form of entry (30) to two forms of entry (60) from September 2011.

For information on pupil place projections for Balham, Bedford, Nightingale, Northcote and Shaftesbury wards download the Pupil place projections for the local area.

Question asked by the Council is (do you agree Yes/No):

  1. The Council proposes to expand Alderbrook School from one to two forms of entry from September 2011.

Consultation meetings

Two consultation meetings have been arranged to take place in November 2010 as follows:

  • 15 November 2010 at 6.30pm at Belleville Primary School, Webbs Road, SW11 6PR
  • 18 November 2010 at 6.30pm at Alderbrook Primary School, Oldridge Road, SW12 8PP

The consultation closes on 1 December 2010.

You can submit your views/comments online.

Or write to the Council (download the Belleville and Alderbrook Consultation document):

Ref: JAJ/Belleville Admission Consultation Oct10/sa

Post: The Consultation Officer, Admission Consultation, Room 90, Town Hall, Wandsworth High Street, London SW18 2PU
Email: primaryexpansionconsultation@wandsworth.gov.uk

Any changes to the existing admission arrangements for Belleville Primary School (and its Forthbridge Road site) would be applied to applications for admission in September 2012 onwards.

UPDATE:

The Forthbridge school site campaign published a leaflet ahead of the consultation meeting on Monday 15th at Belleveille school (download HERE).

Concerns are:

  • The Belleville Governors are against these Council proposals, so are they even workable?
  • The proposals are very complicated. They conflate the sibling issue at Belleville with the Forthbridge school access issue.
  • The sibling issue is separate and is for Belleville parents to decide. Many people would like to see this addressed at ALL the schools in the area at the same time.
  • This “ranked GPAs proposal” is flawed because:
    – Nearly all of the reception places offered at Belleville in 2010 by distance alone were to addresses already located in the FIRST GPA (including the 30 “Forthbridge places”).
    – The distances used in the SECOND GPA will still be measured from the Belleville main site.
    – Evidence from other schools shows there’s little realistic chance that any child from the SECOND GPA would ever actually gain a place (Beatrix Potter School 2007-2009)

 

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Email:primaryexpansionconsultation@wandsworth.gov.uk

Web: http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk

Our ref: JAJ/Belleville Admission Consultation Oct10/sa

Bolingbroke planning application: submission

Author: Cyril Richert

Below is the letter I addressed to the planning application department.

Planning Application 2010/4235 – Bolingbroke site

Ref: OBJECTION

29th October 2010

Dear Sir,

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[1] (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[2].

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.

Yours faithfully

Cyril Richert

On behalf of the Clapham Junction Action Group

[1] Email received on Friday 3 September from David B. Canzini

[2] 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.

Read also:

Bolingbroke Hospital application: the school campaign urges you to write to the Council

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.

Thank you,

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 PROBLEM

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 planningapplications@wandsworth.gov.uk

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.

Best,

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”.

planningapplications@wandsworth.gov.uk

Read also:

Free secondary school proposal revealed, but money still unconfirmed by government

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 [1]. The NSC has been campaigning for a non-selective, non-denominational school since 2009. In May 2010, the NSC chose ARK [2], 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:

  1. High expectations for: -Pupil achievement and behaviour; -Staff professionalism, skill and commitment
  2. Rigorous and engaging lessons
  3. Respect for teachers and a calm, orderly environment
  4. Continuing assessment and responsive support for each pupil
  5. Depth before breadth: an emphasis on literacy and maths
  6. More time for learning
  7. Larger schools broken down into smaller units: schools-within-schools
  8. Aspirational identity
  9. Motivational culture
  10. 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.

[1] 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’.

[2] 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.

Two secondary school rebuilding confirmed by government

Author: Cyril Richert

According to Brightside (September edition) the rebuilding work of 2 secondary schools in Wandsworth is to go ahead, education Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed.

In July, the government scrapped funding for 14 schools in Wandsworth, and two more schools were under review: Burntwood and Southfields (read our previous article).

The attempt from Wandsworth Council to persuade Department for Education officials to go ahead with plans for the remodelling of Elliott School in Putney, the construction of Saint John Bosco – a new Catholic secondary school in Battersea and other schools to be funded by the BSF programme, is still in limbo as the final decision is expected mid-September.

But detailed designs were already prepared for Burntwood and Southfields and it seems that too much money would have been waisted should they be stopped.

Burntwood School in Earsfield will benefit from a £40m rebuild and Southfields Community College will receive £29m. Work is expecting to start in spring next year.

At the same time, the Neighbourhood School Campaign has launched an initiative to set-up a free school at the proposed site of the Bolingbroke hospital. However, setting up a free school is not that simple: from the selection of the organisation in charge of running it (ARK Schools has been short listed and should appoint the teaching staff and run the school as an academy with direct funding from the government), to the level of education provided (as a free schools, parents should make sure that the organisation selected is following their requirements in term of standard of teaching and methodology).

In parallel, the NHS is proposing an alternative plan (residential development) this autumn in order to maximise the value of the Bolingbroke site. To date, no financial offer has been made to buy the site within the timescale that is vital to the Trust. Read our article on the proposal HERE.

NORTHCOTE WARD Special E-bulletin – September 2010

Author: Cyril Richert

I received the latest newsletter from the  Councillors of Northcote ward with article on the Bolingbroke site:

NORTHCOTE WARD Special E-bulletin

Building a new school at Bolingbroke Hospital

September 2010.

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

Email: Heretohelp@wandsworthconservatives.com

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”.

Press release New school at Bolingbroke Hospital site

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

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.

On the other side, the Council denies such claim and distributed a leaflet saying:

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.

Bolingbroke hospital redeveloped as a residential site?

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:

  1. Timescale (sale completed within the financial year)
  2. Maximum value to re-invest in healthcare
  3. 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

Alternatively you can email bolingbroke.consult@stgeorges.nhs.uk
call on 07772 572 955 (24 hours) or visit the website
at http://www.bolingbroke-future.co.uk

Choice of school and the need in the Wix area

Author: Cyril Richert

This is our last article of our series on primary schools in the Clapham Junction area.

The borough has the obligation to provide more primary school places borough wide so it is adding extra classes to various schools. Therefore it has chosen the schools where there is the most need as that seems logical.

If opening a new school on the Vines site means that applications would be low at other schools like High View and Shaftesbury Park (all or nearly all applicants are successful), it does not make sense.

Therefore it has to be a case of some need in the area.

The Council is highlighting the birth rate in the Northcote area (apparently one of the greatest in the country) with increases pressure on Belleville; but they see no such unmet demand in the other area (because by “the other area” they mean the huge Planning Area between here and the river encompassing four council wards: St Mary’s Park, Latchmere, Shaftesbury and Queenstown).

However, as in many other cases, we could consider that offer creates demand and that the location of excellent schools attracts many new couple with projects to extend their family and therefore explain the birth rate increase in the area. As shown in the whole country: successful schools are always over-subscribed.

In addition, as the Council is keen to point out that Shaftesbury Park has got available space to welcome children from Forthbridge area, so has High View for those of Northcote ward (closer than the Vines’ site actually). However this option has not been suggested by the Council. Why?

Moreover, through a Freedom Of Information request there is evidence to show that there were actually more applications per place for the Wix school here on the northside (even to its normal intake English language stream) for 2010 reception places than there were for the reception places at Belleville.

*120 places published in Sep09 guide “Choose a Wandsworth Primary School” so that’s the number of places seen by parents when making their applications (deadline 22Jan10)

In 2010 applications for reception places Wix English stream had a higher ratio of total applications per place than Belleville and also a higher ratio of first choice applications per place than Belleville.

Even if we use just 90 places for Belleville (as 2008 admission) then although the ratio of total applications per place is then greater at Belleville, Wix English stream still has a higher ratio of 1st choice applicants per place than Belleville

On of the reason why we can see such a demand (it was not even the case a year ago) is because it reflects the fact that Wix school has received international acclaim and transformed itself over recent years from a struggling school to one with a substantial waiting list and a good Ofsted report. We are not there yet as the English school is still under-performing, but the very recent bilingual class has proved itself in a remarkably short time (more than 5 times over-subscribed) and Wandsworth has received international recognition for its foresight and innovation in creating it.

While the model set by Wandsworth has now been adopted in several other Boroughs, it will send a wrong message that Wandsworth is not considering the new system seriously.

Moreover – as shown with the over-demand for the bilingual school – the level of application is directly linked to the quality of the school and excellent schools attract families and very high demand, while some parents without this choice will prefer to rely on private schools.

All those arguments show that this is less an issue with over-subscription in Northcote area, than a problem of lack of good schools in Shaftesbury ward.

Choice of school – a government enforcement

The fact is that parents in Shaftesbury are offered two average/good school (sub-standard to Wandsworth average) with Wix (improving indeed, and attracting also Lambeth children – about 25%) whilst parents living in between the common have access to two excellent schools (amongst the best in the borough) with twice the same capacity and still over subscribed.

It gives two possibilities to explain the situation: either there is no children in Shaftesbury and only people in Northcote has a kid population, or that many parents of Shaftesbury are forced to go private in order to reach the standard of education their wish for their children.

Parents will tend to choose the schools offering better academic (and other) opportunities for their children.

The School Admissions Code comes into force on 28 February. 2007, and sets the duties to increase opportunities for parental choice, respond to parental representations, and improve community cohesion. Thus, you can read p17 of the code:

1.8 Following commencement of the relevant provisions of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, local authorities will be required to promote fair access to educational opportunity, promote high standards and the fulfilment by every child of his educational potential, secure choice and diversity and respond to parental representations.

1.9 Section 13A of the Education Act 1996 (as inserted by Section 1 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006) requires local authorities to exercise their functions with a view to promoting the fulfilment by every child of his educational potential, and, in the case of local education authorities in England, with a view to ensuring fair access to educational opportunity, as well as with a view to promoting high standards.

1.10 Local authorities have a new statutory duty under section 14(3A) of the Education Act 1996 (as inserted by Section 2 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006) to secure diversity and increase opportunities for parental choice when planning the provision of school places.

1.11 In addition, local authorities must consider parental representations about the provision of schools in their areas and respond setting out any action which the authority proposes to take, or where the authority believes no action is necessary, their reasons behind that opinion.

Consultation

The Council feel that their already-suggested recommendation for a future consultation on admissions across several schools is an adequate response to current objections. But they say it is “too soon” to agree now on the wording of this. Apparently they miss the point that the huge objection was already to the admission proposal – that people had already spoken and they think a school, any school that local children cannot access is very unfair.

This should involve a discussion forum and open meetings with residents living on and around Forthbridge Road, (the consultation conducted with Belleville parents back in 2009 included this).

The Admissions Code itself sets out the conditions for any consultations on admissions.

All admission authorities are required to complete their consultation by 1 March, and determine their arrangements by the 15 April, in each calendar year for the following school year

[page 22 of the Admissions code]

Consultations must happen for at least 8 weeks between 1Nov10 and 1Mar11 in order to effect admissions policy for 2012! The ONLY education committee before 1Nov is on 21Sep10, therefore there is a urgent need to define the consultation wording and process.

Belleville extension: Objection to the Schools Adjudicator

Author: Ian Hamilton

A group of local residents and parents decided to make an objection to the Schools Adjudicator about the future admission arrangements to Belleville School, in particular to that of the Forthbridge Road school site. We made this objection on 30th July 2010, one day before the deadline for objections to 2011 admission arrangements.

We would like to make it very clear that some residents, those who are parents of children attending Wix School and formed part of the Deputation to the Council’s committee meeting have chosen not to be included in this formal objection. Amongst their concerns they are reluctant to cause too much additional work for any council officers with whom they would like to maintain positive working relationships re the future development of Wix School.

We, the members of the objecting group, understand and respect this decision and share the concern about extra work for council officers who have indeed been very helpful and professional.

The future wide-ranging admissions consultation promised by Wandsworth council for autumn 2010 can only impact admissions from 2012. In the light of recent media discussions on possible future changes to the Admissions Code and also ongoing concerns that Belleville Primary School has registered to receive information on Academy status, we feel we had little choice but to make a formal objection to the Adjudicator.

On 4th August an Adjudicator was appointed to determine our case and they take evidence from us and Wandsworth council. The school holidays may have a slowing effect on the process which normally takes around 6weeks to yield a determination.

Above-all we are very keen to respect the process of the Office of the Adjudicator and as such we feel it would be inappropriate at this stage for us to say post our full objection letter, but will aim to do so in future.

You will find other information about the school campaigns in the area in our pages, with a series about Belleville school extension published during this summer.