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save our schools logohazelwood school flossing for fundingParents and kids get ready to Do the Floss!

Local parents and children took to the dance floor (more precisely, the playground) last week as part of a national protest against cuts to school funding. 

Pupils from Hazelwood Schools, St Monica’s, West Grove and St Michael at Bowes, along with their parents, all took part in the national Floss for Funding day of action, jointly organised by the independent parent-led Fair Funding for All Schools and Save Our Schools campaigns.  At Hazelwood Schools they were joined by Enfield Southgate MP Bambos Charalambous, as ever ready to risk losing his dignity to support a worthy cause (remember his pink outfit in support of a breast cancer charity?). His very special version of the Floss has been viewed over 39,000 times on Twitter (however, he's probably right to say that he needs a few more lessons from the kids).

bambos does the flossBambos does the Floss (click to see the  video)

Effects of the cuts

The campaigners point out that nationally the amount of funding schools receive per pupil has reduced by eight per cent since 2010. Across Enfield, 165 teachers and 93 teaching assistants were lost between October 2016 and October 2017. This is against a backdrop of rising pupil numbers, with 113 more children joining Enfield schools in the same time period.

Nationally cuts to school funding have led to:

  • Increased class sizes – with record numbers of pupils now taught in classes of over 30
  • Reductions in teaching and support staff – figures show that there are 66,000 more kids in state schools in England this year compared to last, yet compared to last year there are 10,800 fewer staff in our school – including over 5,000 fewer teachers, over 2,700 fewer teaching assistants and over 2,000 fewer support staff.
  • Less support for children and young people, including those with special educational needs or English as an additional language
  • A narrower curriculum
  • Cut-backs in essential resources and out-of-school-activities.
  • Increasing numbers of schools appealing to parents for regular cash donations to make up the shortfall.

DfE's “misrepresented” and “exaggerated” claims

The national day of action follows recent protests by headteachers, with more than 2,000 demonstrating outside Downing Street on 28 September and pupils and parents meeting MPs in Westminster on 10 October.

There has also been anger amongst campaigners about the misleading figures given by the Department for Education, who have been admonished four times by the UK Statistics Authority for their “misrepresented” and “exaggerated” claims. In a letter of 8 October 2018, the UK Statistics Authority stated that their claims on changes to school funding does not “help to promote trust and confidence in official data, and indeed risks undermining them.”

"Impossible choices"

Local parent Ruth Donaldson, who took part in the Hazelwood floss said, “Schools are having to make impossible choices because of the worst cuts in a generation. Some schools in Enfield are now closing at 1.30pm on a Friday afternoon, in a desperate effort to balance their budgets. Coupled with the loss of more and more teachers and teaching assistants from our classrooms, these cuts will have a devastating impact on our children’s futures. Education is the foundation of all our futures, and with Brexit on the horizon now should be the time to invest in our most valuable asset: our children.” 

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Walker Primary School in Southgate has been successful in applying for funding to demolish and rebuild the school building. The Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA) has appointed a design team to work with the school, attain planning permission and construct this major development. 

Draft proposals for the new building will be on display at a public consultation event to be held at the school on Wednesday 18th July 2018.  

There will be three separate sessions:

  • 09:15-10:15
  • 14:45-15:45
  • 18:00-19:00

If you require more information, you can contact Nicholas Taylor & Associates on 020 7636 3961 or email Brian Kavanagh on .

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Fair Funding Enfield - a group that campaigns for increased funding for local schools - has recently carried out a survey with the aim of quantifying the impact of school funding cuts in Enfield.

59 schools responded to an anonymous survey.

The results of the survey are set out below.

school cuts top

"We do not have any further capacity for cuts in staff numbers, at any level of the organisation."

  • 49% of schools have cut teaching staff
  • 76% have cut teaching assistants
  • 28% postponed or cancelled essential repairs to their school. Windows are broken and roofs are leaking.
  • 59% report reduced training opportunities for staff
  • 72% have already cut or are considering cuts to learning resources
  • 32% have already cut or are considering cutting school trips
  • 58% are considering further cuts to teaching staff
  • 42% are considering reducions to the school day or week
  • 42% already request or are considering requesting financial contributions from parents
  • 95% say cuts will negatively impact the quality of education being delivered
  • 76% say cuts will negatively impact pupil wellbeing
  • 90% say cuts will negatively impact staff wellbeing
  • 80% predict budget cuts will negatively impact children's life chances

This is the impact of cuts in Enfield. Schools all over England and Wales are facing funding cuts.

What does it mean for schools near you?

Find out at www.schoolcuts.org.uk and search for Fair Funding for All Schools - Enfield on Facebook.

Search for Enfield's fab video #FutureStealers

school cuts narrow 2 1

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imageIn the run-up to this year's general election, a group of local parents organised a demonstration and march protesting about planning cuts to funding for schools - who knows, it may even have influenced the way the voting went in Enfield Southgate.

The group behind the march - Fair Funding for All Schools-Enfield  - continue to campaign, as do parents throughout the country.  They've produced a new video and issued a press release - see below.

#FutureStealers video highlights the REAL monster under the bed - crippling cuts to education funding

Parents all over the country have been campaigning and lobbying politicians to address the funding crisis taking place in schools. Despite recent assurances that additional money has resolved the issue, parents are concerned about the impact already being felt on the ground.

As a response to this, parents and children in Enfield have made a short video (guest starring Tulip the Guinea Pig and Jo Yurky from the national Fair Funding for All Schools campaign) to demonstrate how reducing funding is tantamount to stealing futures. Although it's a million miles from the kind of big budget videos currently being released, the lack of funds to education services will have a far greater impact on children's lives than any monster under the bed.

They worked with Holly Rivers (@hollyriversshow), film maker and children's drama facilitator, to devise a video that was fun for kids to make whilst making a serious point about the state of school funding.

Schoolcuts.org and IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies) figures show that children are experiencing the biggest real-terms cut in funds for a generation. This equates to a £2.8bn reduction since 2015. Although the government announced an additional £1.3bn in July 2017, this was not new money from the Treasury, but is expected to be found within existing Department of Education resources. The IFS states that even with this funding, school budgets are still being cut by 4.6 per cent from 2015 to 2020. This has left 88 per cent of schools in England facing real-terms cuts. The ramifications of this have been seen through reductions in teaching staff, increased class sizes, fewer subjects on offer - the list goes on. All across the country parents are being asked to make direct debit contributions in a fight to maintain standards.

Enfield parent Ruth Donaldson said of the #FutureStealers video:

"We wanted to demonstrate that children get one chance at a quality education. Every child has dreams about what they'd like to achieve in life. If you take their funds, you're stealing their chance at achieving their potential.

The #FutureStealers video was made on a shoestring with volunteers coming to the school on a Saturday afternoon. Our local school is facing a per pupil funding cut of 13 per cent, and needs to find a further £150K savings to balance the books this year. We may not have millions to pour into promotional materials, but parents feel very strongly about this issue and are not going away.

We would like the government to see education as an investment, not a cost. Education is the foundation of all our futures, and we feel current plans are short sighted in targeting children's learning in this way. We live in one of the world's richest economies, our children deserve a first class state funded education.

Our request is that cuts are reversed, and that per pupil levels of funding are protected in real terms over the lifetime of this parliament. The Chancellor's budget on the 22nd November is the government's opportunity to show they're listening to parents."

For further information please contact Ruth Donaldson at Fair Funding Enfield - .

See also this tweet by Holly Rivers.

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school cuts demo 4Parents, teachers and children took to the streets of Palmers Green this morning to protest against planned cuts in government funding to schools throughout London.

school cuts demo 5The 200+ marchers set out from Hazelwood School at 11am and proceeded through the centre of Palmers Green, ending in Broomfield Park, where the protesters held a picnic lunch.

school cuts demo 6All photographs by Richard McKeeverThe march organisers have calculated that unless the government's funding plans are changed, by 2019 government spending on schools in Enfield will have fallen by £554 per pupil and schools will have to get rid of 735 teaching posts.  At Hazelwood the expected reduction would amount to eight teachers.  As a result class sizes will increase, fewer subjects will be taught and extra-curricular activities will be cut back.

Manifesto figures "phoney"

Aware of growing public concern about coming cuts to school funding, the recently published Conservative manifesto seeks to reassure:

"We will increase the overall schools budget by £4bn by 2022, representing more than a real terms increase for every year of the parliament”.

However, in today's Independent (a newspaper which supported the Conservatives in 2015) the economics editor concludes that "those big numbers – £8bn [for the NHS] and £4bn [for schools] – were phoney, designed to mislead".  The writer, in an article entitled The truth about the Conservative manifesto? No new funding for schools and hospitals and more austerity, bases this on an analysis of manifesto commitments carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.  The IFS calculates that, under the Conservatives, real term public spending on schools per pupil will carry on falling over the next five years, which would appear to conflict with the manifesto pledge to deliver a “world-class education” for Britain’s children.

real english schools spending per pupil

Even though the Conservative manifesto states that "No school will have its budget cut as a result of the new funding formula", the combined effects of increases in pupil numbers and inflation will lead of cuts in real terms, as shown by the graph above.

Missing from the IFS analysis is the manifesto issued by the Green Party, which actually contains the most radical education policies of any party.  On education spending the Greens summarise their policy thus:

"[We promise] to invest £7billion in the education system to fill the funding gap created by years of underinvestment and cuts. Figures show that by 2020, 99% of schools will have been hit by a funding cut – the average primary school will have lost £103,000, and the average secondary school will have lost £470,000. ... We need to make up for the enormous shortfall, the massive neglect, in our education system by plugging the £7billion spending deficit."

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Enfield Council has announced that in order to address the shortfall of primary school places in the south west of the Borough it will be adding a new reception class from September.  The new class will be a "partner school"  managed by Bowes Primary School, which recently received an Outstanding assessment from Ofsted, but initially will be located on the premises of Broomfield School in Wilmer Way.  At some future date it will relocate to a permanent home - possibly at the site next to Grovelands Park which the Council has identified as suitable for a new primary school.

The news comes shortly after the announcement that Ashmole Academy (located in Southgate, but just the other side of the Enfield/Barnet borough boundary) will not be receiving funding to build a new free primary school on their existing site.  The campaigning group SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team) recently suggested that parents from Southgate would wish to send their children to the new Ashmole school because of Enfield's failure to provide promised additional places.  However, Enfield Council now claim that the new Bowes capacity will mean that there will be no shortfall this autumn.

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A pressure group has criticised Enfield Council for failing to uphold an earlier assurance that it would provide a new two-form entry primary school in the South West of the Borough from September this  year.

In February the campaigning group SWEAT (the South West Enfield Action Team) stated that they had been assured by Enfield's Director of Schools and Children's Services that the acknowledged shortfall in primary school provision in the area would be plugged by opening a temporary two-form entry school this year, to be followed at a later date by a permanent school, possibly located next to Grovelands Park (see our earlier report Council moving ahead with plans to expand primary school places and build Grovelands school).

However, SWEAT have recently been told by the Director of Schools' Stakeholder Management that the temporary school - expected to be based at the former Minchendon School building in Southgate - would not in fact be opening this year.  In response, SWEAT's Chairperson, Gonul Daniels, has written to the Director of Schools asking for an explanation and requesting that the Council hold a meeting with her group and with local parents.  In her letter Mrs Daniels also asks whether the Council has taken any steps to encourage Walker Primary School to rethink its decision not to expand its capacity.  The full text of the letter is available on the SWEAT website.

 "Playing the admission system"

By contrast with the above, SWEAT has indicated that it fully approves a move by Enfield Council to deter what they regard as abuse of the schools admission system by parents who move into temporary accommodation in order to get their child into a particular school.  The proposed change would withdraw the provision whereby siblings can be granted places at the same school if the child already at the school was subsequently found to have gained a place "on fraudulent grounds" - a reference to the use of a temporary address.  SWEAT have said that they "hope that this will stop parents from playing the admission system and cheating other children of a school place".  See this item on the SWEAT website and the full text of Enfield Council's proposed admission arrangement for 2015/16.

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According to information released by the campaigning group Sweat (the South West Enfield Action Team) and the Grovelands Residents Association, Enfield Council has stated that it will definitely be providing an additional 60 primary school places from September 2014 to help plug the gap in primary places for children in Southgate, Winchmore Hill and parts of Palmers Green - in particular on the Lakes Estate.

map showing planned location of grovelands schoolGrovelands school concept: area A belongs to Thames Water; area B is the Park; area C is the site of the planned schoolFor the first two years the extra two-form entry capacity will be provided by leasing existing buildings at an undisclosed location. From September 2016 the new classes will relocate to a permanent site. The Council's preferred location for the new school is adjacent to Grovelands Park, on Council-owned land close to the Priory hospital. Current plans envisage a car drop-off area off the Bourne.

The new school will probably be of conventional single-storey, non-modular design - the Council had previously been considering a "buried building" concept.

Factors which might prevent use of the Grovelands Park site are the results of a Historic Parks Survey, due to be completed in late March, the content of various convenants relating to Grovelands, and traffic and transport considerations. Should the Grovelands option prove unfeasible, the Council has an undisclosed alternative plan.

As current rules prevent local authorities from opening new council-run schools, the new capacity will have to operate as part of an existing council primary school - it is not known which school this will be.

grovelandsSchool2The Grovelands Residents Association, which has concerns about the impact of a school near the park, has suggested that an alternative might be the former Minchenden School in Southgate town centre, currently owned by Southgate College, but now redundant. In view of the fact that Enfield Council has commissioned a valuation of this site, it appears that its purchase for school provision is being considered.

In addition to the new two-form entry school, it appears that plans for a new primary school in Southgate belonging to Ashmole Academy are going ahead. However, Enfield Council considers that the school will be too far away from the Lakes Estate.

For more detailed reporting, see the following:

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A group which hopes to set up a two-form faith-based primary school in the Palmers Green/Edmonton area has published information about its project.

The Faith And Community School would open in September 2015 and would be state-funded in line with the government's Free Schools initiative.  As a Muslim school it would place emphasis on teaching the Arabic language and learning about the Qur'an.  However, one of the leading members of the project team is Irene Kay, a prominent Jewish educationalist.

The group's prospectus places emphasis on welcoming children "from across the cultural and religious spectrum" and on teaching children about Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism, as well as Islam.  The objective of integrating the school and pupils, staff and parents into the wider community is also highlighted.

Despite being "open to children of all faiths and none", it is the declared intention to "promote religious practice" and a key value would be "God consciousness".

More information is available on the group's website, which includes a link to a Demand Survey, and on its Facebook page.  In addition, there will be informal public meetings in Edmonton on 25th January and at Trinity-at-Bowes Community Centre on 1st February.

As far as we know, the group has not revealed where in the Palmers Green/Edmonton area it intends to build the school.

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Ashmole Academy in Southgate is considering opening a two-form entry primary school, which it hopes would open in 2015.  Pupils from the primary school would have priority for admission to the secondary school.

Whether or not the scheme goes ahead will depend on the school's obtain the money required to build it and there being sufficient interest from local parents.

Ashmole's proposal would help ease the shortage of primary school places in parts of Palmers Green and Southgate, which has prompted the creation of a pressure group - the South West Enfield Action Team (SWEAT) - and website - We Want Local Schools.  SWEAT have welcomed the announcement and are suggesting that parents of children born between September 2009 and August 2012 should visit this page on the Ashmole website, download the information leaflet and fill in the online questionnaire.

In September Ashmole Academy, which is located in Cecil Road N14 5RJ, was listed by the Guardian among the nine most successful schools in the country.

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Enfield Council will be holding a consultation meeting about its proposals to build a new primary school on land adjacent to Grovelands Park.  The meeting will be at Southgate (The Bourne) Methodist Church at 7pm on Wednesday 25th September.

Reactions to the proposals, which came to light five months ago, have been mixed.  The We Want Local Schools campaign welcomes the potential increase in primary school places within the area on which it is primarily focussed.  In contrast, a new group, the Grovelands Residents Association opposes the plans - their publication appears in fact to have been the trigger for setting up the group.

We Want Local Schools is closely associated with the South West Enfield Action Team (SWEAT), which was set up earlier this year in order to provide a body with which the Council could liaise about provision of school places in the south west of the Borough.  However, to date it appears to have been focussing mainly or exclusively on only part of the geographical area that its name describes - namely the area between The Bourne/Bourne Hill and Aldermans Hill/Cannon Hill, an area with very poor provision of primary school places.  As well as its interest in the Grovelands project, SWEAT is continuing to press for expansion of Walker School, whose board of governors do not wish to see an increase in the school's capacity.

SWEAT will be holding a closed meeting with the Council on 17th September.  The minute's of SWEAT's most recent internal meeting are available on here

For earlier reporting see our schools channel and two reports in the Enfield Gazette - one setting out the case against the Grovelands school, the other the case for it.  Enfield Council have published information about the proposals on their website.

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Fox Lane and District Residents' Association have published a document provided by Enfield Council showng some of the initial concepts for a possible new primary school to be built in Grovelands Park (see this earlier report).

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The public meeting on Thursday afternoon (18 July) at which London Borough of Enfield (LBE) officers outlined ideas for building a new school on part of the historic parkland of the former Grovelands House revealed considerable hostility to the idea among the packed audience.  In actual fact, the concepts described would largely use land which does not form part of the current Grovelands Park, would seek to make any new buildings inconspicuous, and in any case would require approval from English Heritage, who regard the parkland as a particularly interesting and valuable national asset.

Palmers Green Community's Colin Younger was at the meeting and has provided the following commentary, plus photographs of displays of two of the concepts.

Given the pressures on school places it was perhaps surprising that the meeting called by LBE on Thursday afternoon to discuss their initial thoughts about possible sites for a primary school in Grovelands Park was so uniformly hostile. One muttered comment from the floor I heard was to the effect that there was no problem, "Enfield has lots of schools".

Parents in and around Palmers Green are only too aware that many live in a “black hole” as regards  access to their nearest schools. Proposals, however tentative, for a possible primary school in parts of Grovelands Park not currently accessible or easily visible might have been expected to be welcomed and supported. I suspect that LBE did themselves no favours in this respect. It seems to me that they probably limited the publicity for the meeting to residents close to the Park, though they would have needed a much bigger venue to accommodate all interested parties had they gone wider, and a UN Peace Keeping force to keep that audience under control.

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grovelands park letter
Campaigners wishing to retain and enhance Enfield Borough's green spaces have expressed alarm at suggestions that a new primary school might be built on Grovelands Park.  The Federation of Enfield Residents and Allied Associations (FERAA) and Enfield Green Party are both concerned about the wording in a letter from Gary Barnes, Assistant Director for Regeneration, Leisure and Libraries at Enfield Council, which states that the Council is to appoint external consultants to help it "develop options...in terms of introducing a two-form entry primary school".

The "redevelopment" proposals also include improvements to sports facilities in Grovelands Park and "opening up the park, including the land owned by Thames Water".

The letter invites local residents and "key stakeholders" to attend a meeting at 4pm on Thursday 18 July in the public restaurant at Southgate College.

To download a copy of the letter, click here.

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A new group campaigning for more primary school places in the south western part of Enfield borough held its first meeting on 25th June.  SWEAT - the South West Enfield Admissions Team - was set up at the initiative of the Fox Lane and District Residents' Association (FLDRA) and will negotiate with Enfield Council.  The Team currently has six members, most of whom are parents of school children, but wish to recruit a few more people - if you are interested in joining, you should send a message via the FDRA website's Contact Us page.  For general information about the campaign for more primary school places, see the We Want Local Schools website.

One of the first actions of the new team will be to consider Enfield Council's written responses to a list of 22 questions that were raised at a public meeting held on 30th April.  Issues addressed include:

  • allegations that some parents are fraudulently claiming to live in locations that would help their children get places at Walker School
  • alternative options for children who cannot get places at Walker School
  • the possibility of expanding Walker School
  • catchment areas and priority zones for schools
  • the availability of funds for expanding schools
  • the Council's strategy for developing schools
  • the suggested conversion of Broomfield House into a school
  • free schools.

The full texts of the questions and answers are available here.

School expansion was also on the agenda of an Enfield Council Cabinet meeting held on 19th June, when the Cabinet approved an updated strategy to provide additional school places between 2013/14 and 2017/18.  The updated strategy is set out in a long and detailed document available on the Council website.  It notes that the Council was no longer able to pursue its intention to expand three schools in the Palmers Green/Southgate area with effect from September 2013 - the schools in question are Walker, Broomfield and Oakthorpe. 

 

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