Holborn and St. Pancras Secondary School Campaign

Backdated from previous BA website

The Bloomsbury Association has supported the call for a new Secondary School south of Euston Road and we have pleasure in reporting from the campaign headquarters as follows.

By now you may have read in the Camden New Journal of Camden Council’s ‘positive step forward’ in acknowledging the potential for their light industrial workshops, on the corner of Wren Street and Pakenham Street WC1, to be transformed into the secondary school our community has needed for decades.
The council’s exhaustive searches stated there was no suitable site in our area. Wren Street wasn’t considered until architectural designers “Studio Weave” joined our campaign and brought it to officers’ attention in August 2008. Whilst the site is considered small by national standards, it is big enough for a four form entry secondary school with a sixth form.

We warmly welcome the council’s statement that it is ‘considering how best to secure the potential use of the Wren Street site for a school in the future’. This week we received a letter from government schools minister Jim Knight, confirming that the government would fund such a school ‘in addition to the current ‘Building schools for the Future’ funding allocation’. We are grateful for the tireless support of local residents, of our MP Frank Dobson and of councillors in the south of the borough.
However, we are all too conscious that the battle we have fought so hard is far from over, because this good news comes with two important conditions:

1. Camden, whilst pressing ahead with its plans to build a new school in Swiss Cottage and carry out its unpopular expansion of South Camden Community School, has finally agreed to undertake, with the government agency Partnerships for Schools, new research into pupil place projections in collaboration with neighbouring boroughs. We are glad that they are at last looking for demographic evidence of a need we have all known about for years, but also aware that this proof is a condition of the government’s promise of additional funds, so needs to be produced urgently.

2. Furthermore Camden so far has no plans to open negotiations with existing leaseholders at Wren Street until leases run out five years from now in 2014. This is in spite of the fact that anyone who lives here knows that the need, though set to increase due to massive housing developments, has already existed for over thirty years. The council is still saying that the expansion of South Camden Community School will meet the needs our area until 2016; yet there is no evidence of parental demand for expansion, no educational case offered for it, and in fact the plan was only instigated as a last resort, when officers failed to find a site for a school south of Euston Road.

Think about it. Our campaign began in October 2005. If you had a baby around that time they will now be as old as the campaign (that is, about three and a half). If the council sticks to its plan, those children, now in nursery, will be the first pupils to benefit from a secondary school at Wren Street, while children who are now four or older will already have missed the boat.

We believe seven more years is too long to wait.

We will energetically fulfil our commitment to work with the council for as long as it takes, but will begin by pressing them to:

• Ensure that their Children Schools and Families Directorate has the staffing capacity and funds to swiftly fulfil their pledge to provide demographic evidence of our need.

• Work with leaseholders on the Wren Street site to ensure that it can be made available for school use as soon as possible.

We parents should all be proud of what we have achieved so far by simply refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer.
Now we need to redouble our efforts to ensure that the council’s pledge becomes a reality.
Please encourage all local parents of nursery-aged children to lend their support to this campaign by registering at http://www.whereismyschool.org.uk. Their little ones are the secondary school pupils of the future, and together we can make sure they have what every child deserves – the chance to walk to a good secondary school in their own community.

Visit the website: http://www.whereismyschool.org.uk

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