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TOPIC: Parents launch petition to save threatened primary school

Parents launch petition to save threatened primary school 10 Jul 2019 13:43 #4692

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author
[Original article]

bowes southgate green schoolParents are petitioning Enfield Council and the Department for Education in a bid to persuade the council to reverse its decision to instruct Bowes Primary School to cease taking any further reception pupils at its Wilmer Way site (Bowes School Southgate Green) following the September 2019 cohort.

The primary school in Wilmer Way, co-located with Broomfield School (a secondary school), consists technically of "bulge classes" and is an offshoot of the older and larger Bowes School in Bowes Road (now referred to as Bowes School New Southgate).  The council has been funding it since it was set up six years ago.  The council's original intention was for the Wilmer Way primary school to be a stop-gap solution pending opening of a new primary school at their preferred location in The Bourne, on land adjacent to Grovelands Park, but so far there is no indication when, if ever, this school will open.

The online petition was begun about a week ago and has already gathered more than 900 "signatures".  The organisers take issue with the council's apparent view that there is no shortage of primary school places in the south west of the borough.  This is also the view of the committee of Fox Lane & District Residents' Association, which recently published a briefing with the title Primary school places: Confusion and disaster. 

The petitioners say that there has been no consultation and that Bowes Southgate Green is a "successful and diverse school with a lively and engaged community and happy, thriving children", rated by Ofsted as "outstanding".  They argue that

The decision to wind down BSG will split siblings across the two Bowes primary school sites and across the North Circular. The site at Bowes New Southgate is unable to accommodate existing children from Bowes Southgate Green due to current waiting list demands. This decision will decimate the school, and disadvantage remaining pupils who will be left in a ghost school as the school fades away.

There are no other viable options for schools in the area.

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Parents launch petition to save threatened primary school 14 Jul 2019 01:43 #4693

Councillor Daniel Anderson published the following update on the Enfield Voices Facebook page on 11th July (note: Enfield Learning Trust is the name of the organisation that now runs both Bowes Primary School sites)

I have received a response back from Children’s Services to concerns about this issue.

The response is as follows:

Background

In 2014 Bowes Primary School were asked to establish a temporary 1FE primary school at Broomfield School to meet the rising demand for reception places in the south west of the borough. At that time the Council were continuing to progress plans to establish a school at Grovelands Park (2FE) which was viewed as the long-term solution to the need for places in the area. However, this option is no longer viable given central government policy on new schools (only allowing Free Schools or Academies).

Initially established as 1FE Bowes Southgate Green was extended to 2FE for couple of years although this was capped at 1FE for September 2018. SCS has invested significant funds in capital works to adapt parts of the building for Primary use and access arrangements.

Broomfield School (a foundation school) were amenable to the use of part of their school as they had been experiencing falling rolls for a number of years and the additional income generated would assist with their budget deficit. Broomfield have agreed, in principle to a 7-year lease from September 2018 to allow all pupils to see out their primary education at the Bowes Southgate Green.

At a parents meeting held at the end of the 2017/18 academic year it was explained that there would be an annual review of the need for both primary and secondary places in the area and provision on the Broomfield School campus. Enfield Learning Trust (ELT) agreed to have one admissions process for Bowes and Bowes Southgate Green which will ensure that the siblings of both sites will be treated the same within the admissions criteria (subject to DfE approval). The Southgate Green Site was always designed as a temporary school.

Current Position

There seems to have been some misunderstanding in relation to the funding. The Local Authority will fund places at the school if Enfield Learning Trust wish to admit pupils. This funding will be the same as funding allocated to pupils in any school within the Local Authority.

Based on 2019 primary admissions there are surplus primary places in the Borough, including places in the local area. This information indicates that there is not the need for a reception class in 2020, as a result there will be no additional “bulge” funding for the school, this means that the school is funded on a per pupil basis’s rather than guaranteeing the funding for 30 pupils.

Lease arrangements have not been finalised as approval from the DfE has been sought and both schools await the DfE response. It is our understanding that ELT wish to have clarification of the position prior to committing to confirming their admissions criteria.

Senior Officers from the Education team have agreed to meet with parents on Thursday the 18th July, to clarify the issues related to a Reception Class at Bowes Southgate Green in September 2020.

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Parents launch petition to save threatened primary school 22 Jul 2019 17:37 #4698

It was a useful meeting on Thursday morning, and a full account will be posted on the Fox Lane website (foxlane.net) very soon - various bits of the Council have been giving different information and it is hoped to actually bottom out the future roll figures for South West Enfield so we are all clear about need. As of now, there will be no mention of Southgate Green in this autumn's Council primary admissions booklet unless someone changes their mind and this provision serving local parents will vanish. Parents are quite reasonably continuing to press to retain this capacity and are hoping for better news come September, but otherwise ready to fight.

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Update on Save Bowes Southgate Green school campaign 25 Jul 2019 14:49 #4700



The following was posted on Facebook on 23rd July.

An update from Elina Stamou.

A MASSIVE THANK YOU to all of you supporting the Save Bowes Southgate Green campaign and for signing the petition.

We've had the meeting we asked for, with all key parties involved (except the DfE). We raised our concerns and shared our suggestions for the future.

The school will now be meeting with Enfield Council to reconsider the issue of 2020 reception admissions. We have also planned further meetings with the school and the Council to explore viable long-term solutions for the school.

Fingers crossed, it's looking a little more positive at the moment.

However, we'll keep the campaign going until the long-term future of this brilliant school is secured and we have a permanent site.

Your continued support is vital. Please keep sharing the petition and talking to others about this. Our community needs more, not fewer, local outstanding primary schools. Bowes Southgate Green needs a permanent home!

We'll keep you updated as we move forward.

Link to petition

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Primary schools update following meeting to discuss Bowes Southgate Green 29 Jul 2019 23:57 #4711

Primary School Places update July 2019 [Originally published on the Fox Lane & District Residents Association website ]

Following an extended meeting on the morning of Thursday 18th July we can be clearer about the current situation regarding local primary school provision, following our earlier posts.

On the platform were key Enfield Council (LBE) officers and councilors including Assistant Director of Education Clara Seery and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services Cllr Rick Jewell; representatives of Enfield Learning Trust, including Trust Chair John West and Bowes headteacher Effie Demetriou; and Peter Travis, headteacher of Broomfield School which was hosting the meeting. Also present was Bambos Charalambous MP. The audience was a large group of concerned parents.

Back in 2014 the first ‘Southgate Green’ class was set up on the Broomfield site with the stated intention of becoming a permanent school on a new site, identified as the Grovelands Park site. However in early 2015 the DfE made clear that any new school could only come through a free school application, which would need to include a strong justification of basic need, or by the local authority identifying a need, a site, and then in effect running a competition among potential providers to run the new school. LBE drew up some early site plans and talked with Historic England, who in a detailed letter of 29th October 2015 said that the public benefits of a school would not in their view outweigh the likely damage to the historic Georgian landscape of the park. LBE at this point passed the whole idea over to the DfE and gave up on any plans for a permanent site for Southgate Green. DfE say they are ‘still in the very early stages’ of looking at the Grovelands site.

Meanwhile Southgate Green certainly looked and felt like a school, with its own headteacher, school uniform, PTA, website etc. But in reality it was only a series of ‘bulge’ classes funded by LBE as part of Bowes Primary. Now in 2019 this has become a crisis. There are spare places at Garfield School, recently rebuild as a larger 3 Form Entry (90 pupil) school, and so it is impossible for LBE to fund another ‘bulge class’ in the same area for 2020. This left the option for Bowes – Enfield Learning Trust – to decide for itself to offer a class as at present. They have decided not to. The lease on the classroom space at Broomfield will run for another 5 years but then Broomfield may well need all their space as their secondary numbers are growing rapidly, and all the primary children would have to be accommodated on the main Bowes site. Also if Bowes continued offering a class it would be taking a financial risk if in fact the class was undersubscribed.

LBE officers talked through the difficulties of predicting future pupil numbers while parents pressed them on current need, the number of young couples moving into the area, and future housing developments in the area such as Montmorency Park and the 150 family units on the Arnos Grove car parks. The officers agreed to conduct a thorough review of predicted numbers and share it with parents early in September as a new baseline for planning. Clara Seery offered that in her view Garfield could take up all the slack until 2022 but by 2025, if developments went ahead on time, it could not.

At the moment the Southgate Green provision will not appear as an option for parents in the next round of admissions this coming autumn. Southgate Green will slowly disappear. Young children from the ‘black hole’ covering much of the FLDRA area will be expected to make their way to Garfield.

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Bowes Southgate Green school: Cabinet member for children's services refutes claim about council policy 31 Jul 2019 21:25 #4715

The following letter has been sent to an unspecified group of residents.



Dear Resident Date 28.July 2019

Bowes Southgate Green Primary School

It has come to our attention that you have recently received a communication from David Burrowes which contains inaccuracies regarding the situation at Bowes Southgate Green Primary School.

To clarify — Enfield Council has never instructed the Enfield Learning Trust (ELT) who are the Academy Trust responsible for Bowes Primary School not to take a reception class after September 2019. Enfield Council does not control admissions at Academies. Enfield Council has in fact agreed to fund any admissions to Southgate Green in the same way as any other reception class in the borough is funded.

The Council is also facilitating discussions between Broomfield School and ELT to try and secure a longer term lease on the site for the additional primary school places. Broomfield School and ELT have provisionally agreed an extension of the lease. Once this is formally agreed it will need approval from the Secretary of State for Education.

To be clear, Enfield Council as a local authority, does not have the power to either open or close an Academy Trust school. Furthermore, should any school or academy wish to change its designation or pupil admission number there is a formal process to be undertaken which would need to be approved by the Department of Education.

We will continue to work closely with the School and Academy Trust and hope to be able to facilitate s resolution shortly

Regards

Councillor Rick Jewell
Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Education and Protection



This the relevant wording from the letter sent out by David Burrowes.

Enfield Council has instructed Bowes Primary School NOT to take a reception class after September 2019 at the Bowes Southgate Green (Bowes — Wilmer Way) site.

This decision by the Labour Council means the end of the school — I am campaigning to reverse this decision.

Bowes Southgate Green is a successful and popular school, which OFSTED rates as 'outstanding'. The Council is trying to say that there is no need for a primary school In the area but GLA figures and Enfield Council's Strategy and Approach to Delivering Pupil Places suggest that the need for primary school places in the southwest of Enfield Is expected to grow significantly by 2022-23 and beyond. In our area, parents are not able to send their children to thelr local school, with too many having to travel across the borough.

This is not a new issue - there has long been recognition that the Southgate Green area has a problem when it comes to securing a local primary school place given the popularity of nearby schools and limited catchment. After a long campaign with residents the Labour Council in October 2015 confirmed the "need to continue developing existing proposals to deliver additional permanent primary school places in the South West area." Whilst the Council resolved to investigate the possibility of a new school at Grovelands (which has not been progressed), it also decided to make use of space at Broomfield School to provide additional primary school places on a temporary basis in advance of the permanent provision.

We must reverse the decision to no longer admit children in Reception to Bowes Southgate Green primary school after September 2019.

The expectation of existing parents at Bowes Southgate Green Primary Schoot and prospective new parents is that this school either at Broomfield School or nearby would become a permanent provision as promised by the Council.

As local parents say: "The decision to wind down BSG will split siblings across the two Bowes primary primary school sites and across the North Circular Road. The site at Bowes New Southgate is unable to accommodate existing children from Bowes Southgate Green due to current waiting list demands. This decision will decimate the school, and disadvantage remaining pupils who will be left in a ghost school as the school fades away. There are no other viable options for schools In the area."

In October 2015 the Council decided to look at "a longer term option and subject to further discussion with the school, consultation, feasibility and funding" of the "potential extra primary capacity through a school expansion to become an all-age (+2FE or +3FE at Broomfield)...to meet demand from 2018." Now - The Labour Council has reneged on its promises and let down local parents - by taking away future school places at Bowes Southgate Green Primary School and not offering any alternative permanent provision. Please go to change.org and search Save Bowes Southgate Green School and sign the petition.

Now with the plan to build more flats on Arnos Grove Station Car Park it also does not make sense to close our outstanding local primary school. Our area has already suffered from the Council not planning sufficiently for the impact of developments in the North Circular area on surrounding roads, local schools and healths services.
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Bowes Southgate Green school - a historical perspective 31 Jul 2019 22:23 #4716

[Sue Younger is secretary of Fox Lane & District Residents Association (FLDRA) but is writing in a personal capacity

The following is a personal, historic perspective (not necessarily of all FLDRA members) and I have followed closely the whole admissions process to local primary schools for the last 30 plus years.

After my daughter got a place at Walker I became a parent governor at Walker School for 6 years and watched as all the children in Conway, Ulleswater and Harlech Roads gradually changed to attending Hazelwood School if they didn’t have siblings already at Walker school.

Later on, when my niece, who had moved into Derwent Road, was trying to find a place for her 4 year old ( in 2003/4) she found there were no spaces at Hazelwood so she had to send her to a private nursery until she won an appeal and was able to obtain a place in the summer term. At that stage the Education Department of Enfield Council admitted that the Lakes Estate was a "black hole" regarding school places. Now there is no chance of anyone in the FLDRA area getting a place at Hazelwood, Walker or Highfields.

School places has been on our agenda in FLDRA for years and we thought that there was real progress a few years ago when the Grovelands site was identified and designs were drawn up so that it fitted within the parkland environment(ie. sunken school, green roof etc) but Enfield didn’t seem to persevere with it. This was surprising as there were precedents for using land next to existing parks such as George Spicer school near Enfield Playing Fields, where conservation bodies were overruled. FLDRA was told at that time that Bowes - Southgate Green would be a school on the Broomfield site temporarily until the Grovelands site was resolved. It appears that parents at the school were told something different.

Anyway, this crisis was totally predictable - all the local councillors in this area were aware of the deficit of primary school places in the area and have been constantly reminded of it by FLDRA.

For some reason there has never seemed to be the political will (from either political party) to resolve the school places problem in this area and this was before academies, free schools etc.

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Parents launch petition to save threatened primary school 01 Aug 2019 09:30 #4721

If parkland is to be used for a new school, the house and stables at Broomfield would seem to fit the bill. Unfortunately, I assume, there is more money to be made using it for housing.

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