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Carlton: Former head backs campaign to save school

'It has to be made clear to Camden that this school plays such an important role in the community'

20 January, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

A FORMER headteacher has joined a campaign to save her old school from closure.

Dalu Chowdhury said there was a way forward for Carlton primary school, where she was head from 1995 to 2005, if it was reduced to a one-form entry school.

The Gospel Oak school’s future has been thrown into question after the council began discussions over its falling pupil numbers – an issue affecting schools across the borough. Enrolments are critical as they are linked to funding made available to schools by the government.

Ms Chowdhury said: “Most importantly a one-form entry school will save Carlton’s untimely demise. This will enable both the school and the council to collect additional revenues from renting out rooms outside school hours – the rooms that were built to accommodate more children in extracurricular activities.” She added: “It is financially more viable and manageable for both the school and the council.”

Governors at Carlton say that 10 years ago they were in discussion about becoming a three-form entry with lessons taking place in temporary classrooms in the playground due to huge demand. But the council say that Camden now has 15 per cent more primary spaces than it needs and blames the pupils shortage on a falling birthrate, lack of family dwellings and Airbnb-style rentals changing the housing market.

Ms Chowdhury added: “With more physical space the children will have more opportunities to learn social skills at their own pace. “Carlton promotes self-esteem, self-confidence and higher expectation of self wrapped in tolerance. “arlton always endeavours to ensure that there is a close connection between rights and responsibilities – an important social skill which the adults in Camden Council who are ready to axe Carlton sadly lack and ignore.”

Sir Keir Starmer took a step away from his quest to become the next Labour leader to visit Carlton on Monday. And parents are expected to make a deputation at the all-member council meeting next week.

Headteacher Jacqueline Phelan said: “It has to be made clear to Camden that this school plays such an important role in the community. They have to think about the fatal stabbings that have taken place and the impact that might have on the children. The message we are giving is that the building should be used for community use as well as the school.”

She added: “We have said to them about the level of need in the area but also the role the school in the community plays. This is the chance for them to think creatively. It’s about walking down the [Queen’s] crescent talking to people and saying what can be done for them, how can the building be used to benefit the community?”

Camden’s education chief, Councillor Angela Mason, said: “We have been having a series of discussions with headteachers and chairs of governors across a number of our affected schools to examine this issue, including at Carlton School. Our shared objective is that our primary schools, which are all rated either good or outstanding by Ofsted, can remain viable now and in the future, so that we can continue to deliver a fantastic education to all of Camden’s children.”

She added: “I have asked that the Cabinet report outlining our response to the borough-wide fall in pupil numbers be put back to April, to give us more time to examine a whole range of possible proposals, in conjunction with the most-affected schools and their governing bodies.”

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