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Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Consultation on future of Oakden/ Wincott Street school site
From Councillor Pete Robbins, Cabinet Member for Children & Young People:
We would like to hear your views on the future of the site in Wincott Street SE11, which used to house the Shelley School, but has now been out of use for about a year.
One of the biggest priorities in Lambeth is to ensure we are able to meet the growing demand for school places in the borough.
In the north of the borough, where this site is, there is sufficient capacity in the schools and overall demand for places is lower than the number of places available. This has been the situation for several years. All children in Kennington can be offered a place in a good local school within walking distance of their home.
By contrast, there is currently a critical demand to provide additional primary school places in Norwood and Streatham. To meet this demand Lambeth is building a new school, expanding existing schools, and providing temporary ‘bulge’ classes where necessary – adding an extra eight forms of entry (240 places) this September. However much more is necessary.
The Shelley site is not big enough to accommodate a stand-alone primary school but we have been made aware by the governors at the Archbishop Sumner CE Primary School that they are minded to pursue the expansion of their school, and wish to do this on the former Shelley site, subject to certain criteria being met. A brief statement from the governors of the school is attached to this letter, together with some comments from the local authority.
The council cannot expect government funding for such a scheme when there are sufficient school places locally and cannot justify diverting its own very limited resources on creating new primary places in an area where there are already enough places.
We have to prioritise scarce resources to ensure that every child in Lambeth is offered a place at primary school. In order to fund the expansion of schools in the areas of high demand we have to sell assets which are surplus to our immediate requirements. As there is no projected demand for an educational use for the Shelley site we propose to sell the site to raise funds to help every child in Lambeth have a primary school place in the future. The future use of the site would be dependent on the wishes of any purchaser and subject to planning consent.
We would be interested in receiving your comments on this proposal. All written comments should be received by 15 July 2011. If you would like to comment please contact:
Chris Sipidias Regeneration Manager 6th floor, International House 6 Canterbury Crescent Brixton SW9 7QE Tel. 020 7926 5570 Email
Yours sincerely, Councillor Pete Robbins Cabinet Member for Children and Young People
Views of the Governors of Archbishop Sumner CE Primary School (ABS) As you may be aware the governing body of ABS has recently been considering the potential for becoming a two-form entry school. This assessment is something that has been undertaken in the light of the strong view held by some members of the local community that ABS should expand.
In this regard, the governing body consulted with councillors earlier this year and formally requested that Lambeth Council delay any decision on the disposal of the Shelley site for a year, to allow for governors to more fully assess the opportunity for expansion onto the site. The governing body is aware that Lambeth Council has since agreed to dispose of the site pending consent to do so from the Secretary of State for Education.
Governors have been very carefully considering (and continue to consider) the possible effects that expansion (or remaining one-form entry) could have on our school and our local community. The governing body resolved on 4 May 2011 that it is minded to pursue expansion to two-form entry onto the Shelley site provided that the satisfaction of specific criteria can be achieved. I include these below to avoid any potential for misinterpretation of ABS' recently agreed position on school expansion.
The governing body has resolved that it is minded to pursue expansion to two-form entry provided that the following conditions can be satisfied: • the governing body is satisfied throughout any process towards expansion that expansion continues to present ABS with the best opportunity to continue to raise standards and is fully consistent with our ethos, mission and values • that expansion is onto the Shelley site and • that the Shelley site is established as suitable for a full extra form of entry • that sufficient funding is available for expansion and that sourcing funding for expansion does not require ABS to reconsider its previous decision to not pursue academy status • that the Southwark Diocesan Board of Education is supportive of the pursuit of expansion under these conditions throughout the process
The governing body has not voted in favour of expansion in general but rather that it is minded to expand only under the conditions outlined above. If during any process towards expansion it is established that any of these conditions cannot be satisfied then the governing body reserves the right to not pursue expansion to two-form entry any further.
Comments from the local authority Archbishop Sumner CE school (ABS) is a well regarded and popular school, rated outstanding by Ofsted, and as such would be a prime candidate for expansion were there a shortage of spaces in the area. Projections of demand indicate there will be sufficient places in this part of Lambeth for at least the next five years. It is possible that there will be a significant increase in demand in the Vauxhall and Nine Elms area after this time, with the proposed developments in the area, but initial investigation has shown that the potential new housing created as part of this development is further away than Lambeth’s target maximum travel distance. In addition, there is a new two form of entry primary school proposed for Lambeth and a new four form of entry primary school proposed for Wandsworth as part of this development.
Lambeth officers are involved in ongoing research and planning to ensure that the pupil places that will be required as part of this, and other local developments will be met, either as part of developer contributions toward education or via lobbying government for additional funding for the expansion of schools, in areas where additional places are needed.
The buildings on the Shelley site are in poor condition and unsuitable in their current form for use as a primary school, which is the reason why the site is no longer used as a school. It is very unlikely that government funding criteria would be met for such new buildings in the foreseeable future. In addition, a short review of a feasibility study commissioned in 2007 has shown that although the school has recently built an extension onto its playground, if there were a need to expand the school to provide additional pupil places in the medium term future, this could be accommodated on the existing site, with some reconfiguration. This may affect the current buildings on the site, though some of them could be retained.
Since the potential for funding to be released via government sources is severely restricted, the Council has to look for ways to raise additional funding to invest in its ongoing, borough wide expansion programme. Release of assets which are not currently used, and which cost the Council money to maintain, is one way of doing this. The Council is of the view that disposal of the currently unused Shelley site is the most appropriate way of raising additional capital to support the provision of additional pupil places, in parts of the borough where this is urgently needed.