Make a difference Camden! We desperately need a secondary school south of Euston Road!

Backdated from previous BA website

Why does Camden Council continue to ignore the vast consensus of opinion that says we need a new Secondary School south of the Euston Road. Lets see some serious discussion taking place with University College London on their offer. We have waited 60 years so far but its time the education authority realised that the secondary school (lack of) situation is now desperate in south Camden. The UCL Provost makes some interesting suggestions that should be taken seriously and explored without further dilly dallying.

State funding of secondary education since 1944 has made it more difficult for us to establish formal partnerships with schools, until the arrival recently of city academies. This is a model which offers some fascinating possibilities. UCL is the biggest employer in the London borough of Camden. We have over 8,000 staff on our payroll and approaching 20,000 students, drawn from around the world. Yet from our Bloomsbury location we are based not only at the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities, but on the fringe of one of the country’s areas of real social deprivation.

So we have started to ask whether the city academy model offers an opportunity for investment in school education, not led by a wealthy individual, but by a world-class university. Rather than a model in which an individual assumes responsibility for governance and exercises influence over the curriculum, this would be a model in which a university assists in shaping a speciality for the school and in developing its delivery of a curriculum. Sciences and languages seem to be an ideal focus. This wouldn’t be a takeover, but a collaborative exercise in partnership with the council themselves. We would have in mind an institution – which could be an existing school or a wholly new school – situated within easy walking distance of us, so as to make it possible for staff and students of the two institutions to interact freely. This is essential if we are to be able to assist in raising aspirations as well as achievement.

Things are still at a very early stage. Our approach has attracted widespread interest, but although Camden have been discussing it with us on an “in principle” basis for over a year they are still some distance from a decision to proceed. I believe that UCL’s engagement in such a scheme would wholly reflect our ethos and our historic commitment to open access to university education, while also allowing us to put something back into the local community on our doorstep.

Malcolm Grant is Provost of UCL

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