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Parents heap praise on under-threat Carlton School

Campaigners warn Town Hall it would be a mistake to close school in Kentish Town that has helped so many

31 January, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Campaigners taking a deputation to councillors last week

Parents and former pupils of a school threatened with closure have sent messages urging Camden Council to keep it open, celebrating how it has helped generations of disadvantaged children.

The campaign to save Carlton Primary School in Grafton Road showed no signs of letting up this week with Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer set to meet councillors to discuss the proposals.

First revealed by the New Journal in November, Camden is in talks with schools across the borough about dwindling pupil numbers and whether there are now too many schools.

Education chiefs have been warned, however, it would be a grave mistake to close Carlton.

Parent Ivy Ng, who has three children who have gone to Carlton and volunteered with the school for a year, said: “My eldest is on track to apply to Oxford University and the second has set her goal on going to Cambridge University. These ambitions are due to the motivation, encouragement and guidance from a young age at the school that if they believe, they can achieve – the motto of Carlton Primary School.”

Some 30 per cent of the children on the school roll have special educational needs (SEN), the highest percentage of children within Camden receiving SEN support.

The school also has the third highest percentage of children receiving free school meals in the borough and the fifth highest percentage of children with English as an additional language.

All but eight children at the school fall into at least one of the above categories. The school is rated “Good” by Ofsted, with inspectors reporting that pupils “make good progress from low starting points to reach average standards in reading, writing and mathematics at the end of Key Stage 2.”

Carlton is one of a number of Camden schools suffering from falling numbers and school enrolments are critical as they are linked to funding made available by the government and the council.

The council says Camden now has 15 per cent more primary spaces than it needs. The talks over Carlton come after St Aloysius in Somers Town shut its doors in December and with council-run nurseries also now under consultation for closure.

Last week campaigners took a deputation to councillors in the council chamber appealing for the closure option to be taken off the table.

Parent Molly Sunderlin, who now lives in Pennsylvania, said: “We were fortunate enough to spend five months living in London from August through December last year.

“From the first day we entered Carlton we were welcomed with open arms and treated as part of the community. We found the staff and teachers to be truly dedicated to their profession and the growth of the children as a group and individually.”

She added: “In my view, the lack of high enrolment does not reflect the quality of education provided at Carlton. The quality, dedication and focus on what is important in the education of children are all present at Carlton Primary School.”

A decision on the school’s future is expected at the council meeting on April 1 after the current round of school applications have been looked at by the Town Hall.

Hélène Aurenche now lives in France but her children went to Carlton two years ago. She said: “They [the children] still talk to us about their teachers, activities, assemblies and music lessons. We have been incredibly and warmly welcomed and all the teachers took care of our kids as we couldn’t expect – our kids did not know any word in English before coming to the UK.”

Education chief Councillor Angela Mason said: “We are continuing these discussions into the new year and 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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