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bowes southgate green school

Bowes Southgate Green School: The campaign to make it permanent has failed.

The learning trust that runs the two Bowes schools has stated that its 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 it 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.

The news about the decision by Enfield Learning Trust 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. Ever shrinking catchment areas for local primaries have led to the "black hole" for many families living between Aldermans Hill and Bourne Hill growing larger.

fldra logo squareThe end of Southgate Green Primary School

Source: FLDRA Newsletter 23 May 2020

Last summer combined efforts managed to keep our local primary provision, Southgate Green, open with another year’s admission to Reception in September 2020. However this time we have all failed. There will be no reception class in 2021 or ever again; the provision will be lost for good. Enfield Learning Trust, which manages Southgate Green, wrote to parents on 28th April 2020 saying that there was no prospect of long term security of provision on the site and so ‘we regret that we can therefore no longer admit children to Bowes Southgate Green from September 2021’. FLDRA raised this immediately with Enfield Council and in reply Cllr Rick Jewell, Cabinet Member for Children’s Service, confirms in his letter of 14th May 2020 that the provision will cease.

The key issues remain unchanged:

1. Pupil numbers

There has been a ‘bulge’ of children into primary schooling in London and more places were set up (including Southgate Green as an annex of Bowes Primary School and a new build for Garfield Primary to take a higher intake). The numbers have turned out to be lower than forecast – there are lots of empty places in Edmonton – and are now forecast to drift downwards further. The DfE see no argument for building further provision.

2. A suitable site

There is no obvious suitable site for a new primary school in the area of need, the ‘black hole’ between Aldermans Hill and Bourne Hill. Enquiries about land close to Grovelands Park hit major barriers as a permanent site and the Southgate Green overflow class on the Broomfield School site was always seen as temporary, but then with nowhere to move to. Meantime the ‘bulge’ is reaching secondary schools and Broomfield is sure it will need all of its own site to accommodate the rising numbers.

3. Money

Specifically capital funding - the up to £10 million needed to acquire a site and build a complete new school. A long term rehab of part of the Broomfield site would cost less but still be expensive. No one has that sort of money and the advent of COVID-19 makes the situation even worse.

A fourth contributory factor has been school governance and control. Enfield Learning Trust is a multi academy trust completely outside the reach of the local authority (Southgate Green was established in close partnership with the council before the Trust was set up). Broomfield School is a Foundation School, a status dating back to 1998 that gives them full ownership and control of their site. The council itself is not allowed to open a new school, only the DfE can make that happen by approving a free school academy, though it does have a legal requirement to provide a place for every child.

FLDRA has mapped the local primary school provision for a number of years now. We have watched local catchment areas fluctuate year on year but always with a trajectory to shrinking, and always with a large space (from Conway Road/St Georges Road down to Old Park Road/Caversham Avenue and the railway line) which is outside the catchments of all the local community primary schools.

Alternatives for parents of young children include:

Bowes: the Trust has committed to taking all siblings from Southgate Green families. This year 2020 siblings take up 50% of the places at Bowes and that will increase when the school drops to 2FE (60 places) taking sibllngs from what has been a 3FE intake. This is an option for siblings of current SG pupils but not for anyone else. Provision would be in the main Bowes building across the North Circular.

Hazelwood, Highfield, Walker: almost certainly outside their catchment areas but you never know. Pupil movement in and out – mobility – means places do come up mid year for the child highest on the waiting list, ie proximity. Ashmole Primary is extremely popular, has a tiny catchment area, and will not be accessible.
Garfield: beyond Arnos Grove station a mile or more away. Has space now but expected to fill up with new developments locally within a few years: for example Montmorency Park and the Arnos Grove station car park plans.

West Grove: in Chase Road, also a mile away. Most West Grove pupils who live near the school then transfer to Southgate secondary but from the FLDRA area you will probably be outside the Southgate catchment, go onto a waiting list, and your child will lose their friends.

A church school: St Pauls CofE near Winchmore Hill station or St Andrews Southgate CofE close to Southgate Circus. St Monicas Catholic Primary in Cannon Road, actually within the FLDRA area but centring its catchment on the church front door on Green Lanes. All these schools are popular and give priority to families who can demonstrate faith commitment by regular church attendance over a decent period of time.

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