New Secondary School in Brixton

Discussion in 'Brixton' started by Gramsci, Sep 10, 2003.

  1. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    I saw that article in the SLP.I wondered what it meant.Has the site been sold?Or are the developers only willing to buy it out right if they have the planning permission they want?Its not clear from the article.
  2. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    I thought I would bump this thread up as the meeting re the new school in Brixton is coming up this Thursday.I received more info about it on Saturday.

    The meeting is on Thursday 20th Nov at the Assembly Rooms,Brixton Town Hall at 7pm.

    The LEA and DfES will be present and give presentations on the City Academy programme and secondary school provision in Lambeth.

    Brixton Area Forum will "facilitate" the meeting and the second part of the meeting will allow people a chance to present their views.

    "light refreshments will be provided."

    This is a public meeting so all are welcome.
  3. Brixton Hatter

    Brixton Hatter Home is south London mate

    If you go here you can download the Government's "Vision for Lambeth Secondary Schools". I haven't read it yet - but I will!
  4. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Thanks for posting up that link Brixton Hatter.Ive read it.Its a document agreed by the present LibDem/Tory administration in line with Government policy.

    What did surprise me was the word Comprehensive was not mentioned once.The aim is to make each school in Lambeth a "specialist" school in the same way that the new City Academies are going to be set up.

    The word "community" was mentioned but not how they would be involved in local schools.The new City Academies are supported in this document-I take it that the LibDems therefore have no problem with them.The future role of the LEA is not discussed in this document-surprisingly-as the City Academies will be outside its control.See previous posts for reservations on City Academies.

    In short their was a lot of the usual platitudes in this document but nothing about the problems or choices involved in this educational "modernisation".IMO it read more as a "mission statement" so beloved by business or Councils-not a discussion document.Perhaps this is not what the local community want.It seems to me this "modernisation" of education is going to go ahead anyway whatever people think.I wish the LibDems would put forward a clear view of their educatiuonal policy.To me it seems no different from New Labour except that they might argue they run the educational service in LBL more efficently.
  5. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    The latest info I have on the meeting on Thursday is that the "focus of the meeting should be informing parents from all parts of Brixton about... a new secondary school and eliciting their views on (a)whether they want such a school and (b) what sort of school they would like it to be.".(Ive heard this phrase before)."The intention now is not to discuss specific sites.but rather to encourage thinking in broader terms about the the pros or cons of different locations."

    Ill quote some to the point observations from SSCIL re this:

    "The Powers that be feel the need to drag us out on a dark winter evening to say that children need spite of SSCILs three years of campaigning for places for the 600 Y6 children in central Lambeth who have had no secondary schools..Lambeth needs to hear again that these children need schools."

    "In spite of the need to be specific about sites and dispell confusion about them,Lambeth wants a meeting to "encourage thinking in broader terms about the pros and cons of different locations"."

    SSCIL however urge everyone to attend this meeting on Thursday to make their views known.
  6. Mr BC

    Mr BC New Member

    I went to the meeting last night in the Assembly Rooms. Not a lot happened but some interesting information shared.

    If the school is to be on the Thames Water site, the government would have to buy it. They have opened, or will shortly be opening, 37 City Academies and have never yet paid for a site. There was much talk from the chap from the Dept. for Education about "you'll be surprised where we've found sites" etc. The implication is, I think, they won't buy a site if there is any remotely good site they can have for free from the council.

    The civil servant also emphasised that City Academies were meant to be situated in what he called the most "challenging" areas. Again, I assume that meant they preferred the Somerleyton Road site to the Thames Water one.

    The ball is well and truly in the govt's court anyway, as they have apparently commissioned a report on the viability of the Thames site.

    Other than these smoke signals, there was a useful presentation showing the shocking number of 11 year olds who have to go out of borough for a secondary school place.

    Surprisingly, no one argued against the school being a City Academy.

    So far as the SCIL line on 'being dragged out on a damp winter's night' is concerned. I was at the Jubilee meeting and remember that is was them who demanded the meeting in the Assembly Rooms!
  7. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Back on the boards after a week of being morose so sorry or i I would have posted this up before.

    I went to the meeting as well and took notes so heres my view of what it wasa like.

    The first thing I would like to say is that this meeting was set up to not allow people to voice their opinions.That is why their was no discussion of a City Academy etc.Out of 2 and a half hour meeting 2 hours were taken up with speakers from the Council and DfES,20 mins on "activites".Only ten minutes were allowed to ask questions and that only after intervention from the floor.

    The Council also said that this meeting was not about specifics-the type of school or site.It was "info sharing and pre consultation" according to Cllr Bottrell.In fact a questionaire circulated at the meeting asked what type of school people would like--ieLEA Comprehensive or City Academy.Therefore I take the Councils offical position to still be that no final decision has been made.

    The SSCIL did not demand a meeting in the Assembly rooms.This was the Councils idea as they in their view wanted a more "representative" cross section of local residents.If they did not get that its the Councils fault for not publicising the meeting properly.

    What annoyed me most was the lack of debate.This meeting was held under the aegis of the Brixton Neighbourhood Forum.This Forum was set up to let people have their say-supposedly.Instead if was a carefully manged meeting.Those present were told (and the LibDems /Labour seemed to agree on this) to show "positive enthusiasm","not be confrontational","come together,work together"(with the Council).As someone said to me at the meeting this means doing what the Council wants.

    The meeting was a classic case of typical "New Labour" type consultation.If you did not show "positive enthusiasm" then you are against something good for the area.

    If the only option the Council has is a City Academy it should say so and stop "consulting" people about it as they are going to get it whether they like it or not.

    As for me all I want is a chance to have my say and a proper debate-Im not into being disruptive for the sake of it.At the end of the meeting I did ask whether their would be another one where people would be able to ask questions-I dont know whether this will happen.
  8. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Details of the meeting itself: Their were four main speakers;

    1)LEA executive director.

    The LEA admitted that they cocked up the need for secondary school places.The LEA thought that the population of Lambeth was going down.This was the rational behind school closures and sell off of sites to developers in the teeth of local opposition(in the time of the previous Labour administration).Therefore their is now a shortage of places.Lambeth exports 58% of 11 to 18 year olds to other boroughs for education.


    "Sir" Bruce Liddington of the DfES came along.I must say Ive a grudging repect for thiese government mandarins.They know their stuff even if I disagree with them.He spent most of his speech cleverly dealing with any possible criticisms of City Academies(CAs).

    He said that CAs were influenced by the Conservative Education policy on City Technology Colleges(Ive posted up about this previously).I dont think thats something any Labour member would emphasis.

    He said that their were differences:

    a)They will work in partnership with the LEA
    b)they will be "Comprehensive"(he did not explain this further).
    c)10% intake will be on "aptitude".(IMO no different from "selection")
    d)The CAs will not be allowed unnecessary exclusion and will have to work with the LEA on this.
    e)The admisssions arrangement will mean the CA will have to take its fair share of local kids and specail needs.

    The CAs are set up to be put in "challenging areas" and the government expects a "transformation of education" and for them to be "asprational".

    He was the best speaker.However working in "partnership" with the LEA does not mean LEA controlled.Looking at the DfES website the board for a CA will only have to have one LEA and parent rep on it.Their was no explanation of how a "sponsor" is chosen.

    Nor do I follow why a properly funded LEA Comprehensive should not be "aspirational" and of a high standard.The thinking behind this educational experiment(thats what its is in effect) was not explained.See my previous posts for doubts on CAs.

    The DfES has a lot of control over CAs-the funding comes direct from central government not via the Council.Given the cock up in Southwark, were a private firm overseen by the DfES took over the LEA, I still have my doubts about the DfES.The DfES might be good on big issues but its not set up to deal with the complexities of local control.

    3)School Design

    A apeaker on school design-basically saying it can be of high quality.(Some of this meeting was like a PR exercise for the Council).
  9. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    School meeting report continued;

    The last speaker was the new Town Centre Manager on "The role of schools in regeneration".

    For some reason she went on about a new Council report on the "Creative and Cultural industries"(C&C).Ive my suspicions that the Council wants to sell the CA idea by saying it will specialise in "Creative industries"(this was never said directly).This is not up to the Council it up to the "sponsor".

    Still it was illuminating on the latest Council big idea for Brixton so here is what she said.The report states that their is a drop in the use of office space and retail in Brixton.The way forward is to not save retail but support C&C to make Brixton a "cultural quarter".75% of C&C is Advertising,design and publishing.Also this includes in Brixton "hair and beauty" and bars/restaurents.Amusingly she then said some people were not happy about increasing bars/restaurents--our victory over the bike shop is known about.She also said that research shows that whilst ethnic minorities are excluded from some kinds of work they are involved in C&C so this should be furthered.

    As someone said to me this is almost tantamount to saying Black people are good at singing and dancing so thats what they should do as work-a stereotype.Also since definition of C&C is wide-Advertising as Culture?This is in danger of making Brixton into Soho/Hoxton.IMO making the same mistakes as Brixton Challenge.In the worst scenerio making Brixton ready for the likes of Tamara of Clapham.:eek:.Make way for funky media people living in Rushcroft Rd.

    Back to schools.In her view a new school would be a "huge regenerator" and a "hub in a cultural quarter".

    Why?Lots of things can be "regenerators".ie good quality social housing,affordable workshops etc.

    I think in reality the Council is softening people up to build a school on an unsuitable site--Somerleyton Rd.Anyone who opposes it is going to be positioned as being negative.
  10. Mr BC

    Mr BC New Member

    On points of information:

    1. City Academies may select up to 10% of their intake on aptitude. There is no requirement. The Clapham Academy will not select in this way at all.

    2. It is entirely the govt's choice to insist new schools are academies not community schools. It's nothing at all to do with the council. The council could object to the school being an academy but it would make no difference, the decision is the S. of S.'s and his alone. Even were the govt to agree to a community school, new regulations mean the LEA would have to hold a 'competition' to seek 'partners' from the voluntary or private sectors jointly to run the school. If the S of S. didn't like the partner, he could insist the school be an academy anyway. So it's heads the LEA loses, tails the govt wins.

    3. My recollection of the Jubilee meeting was that it was very much the view of the floor that there be a further meeting in the Assembly Rooms. Cllr. Bottrall responded to that clamour by promising a meeting.

    4. It's a bit harsh to blame the council for 'cocking up' the population projections. By law, LEA's are required to look base population projections on the local research centre's projections. in London's case, the LRC. The LRC got it wrong. In any event, 58% of Lambeth's existing secondary age children go out of borough so I think population is a bit of red herring.

    My own view is that there are serious disadvantages to any new school being an academy rather than a community school. I was surprised no one at the meeting was more vociferous.
  11. lang rabbie

    lang rabbie Je ne regrette les gazebos

    Bruce Liddington isn't a career civil servant - he's the former headteacher of Northampton School for Boys and got the knighthood for "services to education" - apparently for turning it around - not for doing forty years in the civil service.

    However, I don't have any inside information on his motivation for taking on his new role as "Project Broker" in the DfES City Academies Unit.
  12. lang rabbie

    lang rabbie Je ne regrette les gazebos

  13. Mr BC

    Mr BC New Member

    Clearly only those who say what others want to hear are welcome to post on this site.
  14. lang rabbie

    lang rabbie Je ne regrette les gazebos

    :confused: at least as far as this thread is concerned!
  15. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    .If you have something to say post put it up-I started this thread and if people want to post up different views thats up to them-its an open site.

    I agree that the City Academy programme comes down from Central Government and that in reality local Councils have little say in the matter-so if the Lib/Dem Council are not happy with it why dont they say so?I can only assume they have no problem with the idea.The Tories I dont know about on this issue.The Labour Cllrs are not going to oppose a City Academy as it one of Tonys "bright ideas" for the "modernisation" of public services.

    The meeting did not give the impression to me that opposition to a City Academy, possibly Somerleyton Rd, was going to get any support from the Council.The whole way the meeting was set up was to be upbeat about a City Academy.It would be a regeneration driver for Brixton etc.The subtext was that oppose it would make one appear negative and a whinger etc who is not prepared to work "constructively" with the Council.Some people did try to speak and were not given the floor in any meaningful way.This happened at several points in the meeting.Plus I have to represent other people sometimes so I have to be carful what I say.

    As the meeting was for information etc I dont think the pros and cons of a City Academy as opposed to a LEA Comprehensive were outlined in a way that people could understand.I might know but thats because I search the web for info.Not everyone is goig to do that.

    The problem with selection/aptitude and City Academies is that its not clear to me who controls their policies.Pressure and lobbying by the Council and SSCIL make a difference.It seems to me the DfES has the most control.

    Lang Rabbie-Thanks for the reference to Bruce Liddington-that figures-he was to good a speaker to be a career civil servant.Maybe for someone like him the City Academy type school gives "superheads" more control as it severs the ties with LEA?As long as they "perform" Central Government may leave tham alone-just an idea.

    If Cllr Bottrell agrees with the idea of another public meeting which will be for asking questions from the floor --good--as I was not clear on that.
  16. IntoStella

    IntoStella Banned Banned

    Mr BC -- I'm sure that Cllr Bottrall would be slightly heartened that one person can spell his name right, anyway. ;)
  17. Mr BC

    Mr BC New Member

    Sorry. Posted last post at the end of a very long and very tiring day.

    I think my general point is that it is rash to assume that everything a community group (in this case SCIL) say is a priori right and everything the council says is a priori wrong.

    I accept that, given it's Lambeth we're talking about, it's not necessarily a bad starting point in any debate to assume that the council may be about to get something wrong and the community may be right, but, in this particular case, I think there may be sufficient evidence to indicate otherwise.
  18. hatboy

    hatboy Banned Banned

    Maybe I don't know much about it, but a City Academy in a fantastic new building in Brixton specialising in something creative seems like a great idea to me.

    It could go on the dolehouse/Voice site and the Somerleyton site with part of the building being an architecturally innovative enclosed bridge linking the two. That's my idea anyway.
  19. lang rabbie

    lang rabbie Je ne regrette les gazebos

    Mr BC
    I've got no involvement in SSCIL - I merely posted up the link to their site as it contains some of the limited amount of information on this that seems to be in the public domain. I've been unable to find anything substantial on the Lambeth website.
  20. Anna Key

    Anna Key Banned Banned

    Why is it that Lambeth Councillors have such funny names? It's a bit like urban75.

    Bottrall & Fitchett. An old fashioned firm of city lawyers? A patent remedy for piles?
    I'll say whatever you want to hear any day darling. ;)

    Gramsci's point about Brixton Area Forum manipulating and censoring debate is well-founded. It was much discussed - with examples - on the Selling Brixton to Yuppies thread. Gramsci caught them with their pants down.

    Why do they do it? Because "Clearly only those who say what others want to hear are welcome to [attend and speak at Brixton Area Forum meetings]."

    Thank God BAF's not policy making. If it was they couldn't get away with it - Councillors would risk surcharge, officers disciplinary action.
  21. pooka

    pooka Can't Re Member

    Would you say that the BAF people censored and manipulated debate at the UDP meeting, Anna? As I recall, the view seemed to be (including from people posting here) was that the two guys facilitating it did a decent job?
  22. Anna Key

    Anna Key Banned Banned

    No. Precisely my point. There's no need for them to do it.

    Edited to add: but I did check the minutes of that UDP meeting and they left out the important point - made by Hatboy - about keeping the big shopping chains out of Brixton.

    So maybe there was some manipulation going on. Why leave the point out?
  23. pooka

    pooka Can't Re Member

    Well, lang rabbie posted some links to the revisions on another thread. It looked like the importance of a high proportion of independents was enhanced in the revision.

    The original claimed that the lack of chains in Brixton was generating out of town shopping trips, something about which I asked for survey evidence. That claim has been modified to may generate extra shopping trips.

    But I agree that BAF should resist even the appearance of being an agent of the council and be a place for open debate . Within that, there's a need to avoid becoming a recurring rerun of the local election hustings. It's a fine line.
  24. Anna Key

    Anna Key Banned Banned

    But it is!
  25. Brixton Hatter

    Brixton Hatter Home is south London mate

    I can find out about this as I know some people who work in DfES.

    Another point is this (and apols if its already been made, I've read most of this thread, but not all of it!) - if there IS a city acedemy built, then great: high quality desirable education for the kids of Brixton. But as soon as it's built, you're going to get loads more middle class families moving into the area in order to get a place at the school - further gentrification. School admissions policies are a total minefield and I could see lots of local youngsters who've lived here for years being denied a place at the new school due to an influx of new residents.
  26. hatboy

    hatboy Banned Banned

    Sort of AK. I wouldn't set yourself against BAF in entirety. Like most things it has it's good and bad points. My experience is that there are a fair few independent minded people who want the best for Brixton involved in it. I get the impression that more autonomy might be on the cards too.
  27. Anna Key

    Anna Key Banned Banned

    I'm not. What I object to, specifically, is this:
    And this:
    The latter because it's simply not true. Even a brief look at the BAF constitution shows it to be a council dominated structure.

    There's a history on BAF of manipulation and gagging. When people give up precious evenings to attend BAF meetings and then find tricks being played with the minutes, or only ten minutes for debate in a 2 and a half hour meeting, or articles censored from BAF publications (as happened to Gramsci, documented elsewhere) then something's wrong.

    BAF's terms of reference include:
    These are important objectives. They can't be achieved if you gag and manipulate.
  28. hatboy

    hatboy Banned Banned

    Yeah, I know, but I'm just saying don't write it off. I think many of the people who volunteer their time are doing their best. And it's developing since the low point when most volunteering on "community assets" lost faith in it.

    How things are minuted by council employees and passed back to the council might be another thing. There you may be right. I'd be interested to see the minutes of meetings I've attended. If you come across any that say "PB said" do let me know. I can't get my head round finding stuff on Lambeth's site.

    Also since the council pulled the plug on Sound magazine it's made BAF less democratic because people aren't hearing about meetings. I did raise this point.

    Nothing's perfect but I've found I can have some say by going to the Coldharbour/Angell meetings. (For instance persuading developers to redraw their plans for the Green Man).

    But let's not argue about it. Have a good weekend. :)
  29. Anna Key

    Anna Key Banned Banned

    They're in breach of their own rules:
    Sound was that report. They scrapped it. They are also supposed to address contentious issues, not censor them:
    So they're in breach of their own rules again. Maybe the new Town Centre Manager will get them back on track.
  30. hatboy

    hatboy Banned Banned

    Info is published in a free paper called Lambeth Life or something but it does need to be more widely distrbuted and, I'd say in a more eye-catching format. Can you stop going on about "they" tho AK please. For instance if I go to afew BAF meetings, or nice people from Brixton Cycles for instance, are we "they". Lot's of people are trying to make good things happens. Dealing with council red-tape is not the easiest thing to get your head round but labelling everyone who tries as "them" isn't fair.


    PS - I may have done this myself sometimes. But it doesn't really help.

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