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dfe letter to richard thompsonA senior official from the Department for Education (DfE) has written to Fox Lane & District Residents Association (FLDRA) with some clarification about the provision of primary school places in Enfield borough and specifically about the future of Bowes Southgate Green School and the possible building of a new school in The Bourne adjacent to Grovelands Park.

Martin Post, Regional Schools Commissioner, North West London and South Central, was responding to a letter sent in July by Richard Thompson, the FLDRA's lead on schools issues.

Mr Post refers to ongoing work to explore the options regarding the future of "bulge" classes at Bowes Southgate Green and to the meeting held on 18th July that brought together representatives of the schools concerned, the Council and parents. (An account of this meeting written by Richard Thompson is on the PGC website at this link.)

The Commissioner writes that the possible Grovelands Park school has been put on hold by the DfE, citing potential problems with obtaining planning consent because of the site's historic nature and protected open space designation. However, he does comment on the ways a school might be set up on the site.

Finally, Mr Post quotes figures provided by Enfield Council indicating that there are sufficient primary school places across the borough.

The complete text of the letter is reproduced below.

Text of letter to Richard Thompson

14 August 2019

Dear Mr Thompson,

Thank you for your letter of 22nd July, regarding the provision of primary school places in your area. I am aware of the concerns around the future of the ‘bulge’ provision at the Bowes Southgate Green site and my team have been supporting Enfield local authority and Enfield Learning Trust in their work to explore the available options.

I understand that this work is ongoing following a constructive meeting with the local community on 18 July, also including representatives from Broomfield school which owns the Southgate Green site. Following the meeting, as you note, Enfield local authority are reviewing the latest available data on pupil numbers to inform next steps. As I am sure you know, responsibility for balancing the supply and demand of school places locally rests with the local authority and we look to them to ensure there are sufficient places for children in their area, and that schools serve the needs of their local communities.

In your letter, you specifically asked for further information on the Groveland’s Park site. As you will be aware, the site has a series of challenges due to its historic nature and protected open space designation. Any changes or potential developments to its use would require thorough evidence which demonstrates that there are exceptional circumstances for this, and there is a high risk of failure to achieving planning consent to build on sites such as these. One of the requirements is that it would require a very strong basic need justification. Currently, there is insufficient evidence of this and the department has therefore put further investigation of the site on hold, although the basic need situation is reviewed regularly with the local authority.

If the DfE were ever to investigate further the Groveland’s Park site, it would have to be for a new primary free school that has been approved through the free schools application process. Local authorities are, however, able to establish new schools through the ‘presumption’ route where they have clearly identified the need for a new school in their area. Under this route, the local authority is responsible for providing the site for the new school and meeting the costs of building the school.

Finally, in terms of the current basic need picture, the London Borough of Enfield (LBE) has confirmed that there are sufficient primary places across the borough (currently 6% over demand rising to 10% in 2022/23). Published School Capacity and Planning data (SCAP18) supports this and indicates there are surplus places at the borough level at present and for the next few years. Although there is a projected shortfall of 38 places from 2022/23, the local authority’s current view is that this will be managed through bulge classes in local provision if necessary.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write to me. I hope this response helps to clarify the position.

Yours sincerely,
Martin Post
Regional Schools Commissioner, North West London and South Central

Links

School places information on the FLDRA website

Parents launch petition to save threatened primary school (Palmers Green Community news item plus many informative comments and updates)

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See also...

  • 27 May 2020

No future for Bowes Southgate Green school

Bowes Southgate Green school will not accept any new intake in September 2021 or thereafter. Negotiations aimed at setting up a permanent (and separate) school at the site in Wilmer Way which Enfield Learning Trust leases from Broomfield School have been unsuccessful. Bowes school will continue to accept siblings of pupils at the Southgate Green school and accommodate them at its main site in Bowes Road. This news was published in a recent newsletter issued by Fox Lane & District Residents Association (FLDRA), which also includes an analysis of the overall situation regarding primary school places in the western part of our area. Read more

  • 23 October 2019

FLDRA update on primary school places

The October newsletter issued by Fox Lane & District Residents' Association (FLDRA) includes an update on provision of primary school places, with especial reference to the question of how long Bowes Southgate Green School (BSG) will continue to take new reception pupils. Read more