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Former head’s lesson for Town Hall on school closures

16 January, 2020

Carlton primary school

DO the bean-counters at Camden Town Hall who are threatening Carlton primary school with closure have the same social skills as its pupils?

Not according to former headteacher Dalu Chowdhury, who says the council needs a lesson in “rights and responsibilities”.

She sets out a simple plan to save the school this week by suggesting it is kept open as a one-form entry school.

This would allow management to bring in funding by renting out space outside of school hours. The Abacus proposal for a one-form entry school in Hampstead Police Station was rejected, mainly because of the weight of local opposition to it.

It was, however, judged to be a financially viable project, and one of the main reasons for that was a reserves-boosting business centre that was built into the designs.

A one-form entry school was proposed for St Aloysius by unions and staff but this was rejected outright by the Diocese of Westminster which argued, under the current education funding system, it was impossible to maintain a school of that size.

St Aloysius was shut down, officially, a fortnight ago – less than a year after a “consultation” was announced. Why should the educational freedom of a one-form entry school only be afforded to children with parents who can pay to go private?

Why is it that areas with large numbers of council homes, such as Somers Town and Gospel Oak, are first affected by this falling birthrate phenomenon?

Despite the official statistics, it is scarcely believable that there are so few school-aged children left in these areas.

The sale of housing under Right to Buy, the shortage of council homes and the damaging cuts to welfare benefits over the past decade, are most certainly to blame.

Many new parents will have been forced to the outskirts of London to find affordable family-sized homes, while huge investment blocks have been built all over Camden.

Did the planners see the impact on birthrate coming? If not, why not?

The same arguments are being made about council-run nurseries. At the same time more than 500 people have signed a petition against any closure.

The same argument – of over-supply – has been used to close dozens of inpatient beds in Camden NHS hospitals since around 2012.

The same argument was made about the Whittington A&E – which is now busier than it has ever been.

If the figures show there are too many schools in Camden, then those figures may require greater scrutiny.

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