Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information
Now that Islington has declared the Ashmount site surplus to their educational requirements, the only way of keeping a school there is by Michael Gove giving the site to a free school. Two free school organisations (PLACE and The Oak School) have applied to use the site, though we understand that the Department for Education could choose some other organisation which has applied to open a free school but has not specified this site.
PLACE have asked those who would like to support their bid to say so at www.islingtonfreeprimary.co.uk . The Oak School has a demand survey at www.theoakschool.org.uk The PLACE bid is for a primary school (as Ashmount School was) and the Oak School for a Steiner School for 4-18 year olds covering a wider catchment area. If you supported the campaign to keep the site as a school then do please visit the sites and record your support.
ASAG believes that the majority local preference is for the site to be a primary school for local children. If you think so you will probably support the PLACE bid.
In any event - and not only if you have pre-school age children - do visit the websites and register your support. It really makes a difference for these schools providers to be able to say that there are plenty of local residents supporting their bid. The process of choosing the school provider is expected to take another couple of months, and every view expressed in support of a bid is important in the decision to be made.
We shall keep you in touch with any developments
This email from the ASAG is a very simple view of the problem. They want the building re-used as a school. There are more complex arguments some of which have been expounded here on OpinioN8.
Councillor Richard Watts of Islington has written to the NUT setting out Islington's position (they are expecting to get money for the site for development). His covering email reads as follows. His letter is attached.
The old Ashmount siteDear elected representatives for Hillrise ward,You may have seen that two groups have registered an interest in setting up a free school on the old Ashmount site. Without getting into the principles of the rights and wrongs of free schools, the evidence suggests that Islington does not need a free school and that the Ashmount site is, anyway, unsuitable for one.I've written today to the local branch of the NUT setting out the facts regarding this - please find this letter attached. This is an open letter and I thought it would be helpful for you to see a copy.Happy to talk further,Cllr Richard WattsExecutive Member for Children and FamiliesLabour Councillor for Tollington Ward, Islington CouncilTel: 020 7527 4717Twitter: @Richardwatts01
Well I am a local resident -I live a very short distance away from the old site, and I am not convinced either that there is a need for a Free School. The site belongs to Islington. When the school moved out the Council had to decide what to do with it. They concluded that there was not the demand for an extra school - Ashmount has just moved ten minutes walk down the road, and still serves the area. (The council's figures which support their point of view have been published. ASAG's unofficial figures which they say contradict this have never been published - I have asked for them to be published several times, including here on Opinion* but it does not happen.). The Council decided that the interests of the whole community would be best served by social housing of which we all know there is a shortage in Islington. ASAG would have the site handed over, free of charge to either of the two "Free School" projects currently bidding for the site. One of this projects is sponsored by a company that runs a number of schools for profit in Switzerland and here, supported by share holding investors based in Switzerland. One can see why they find the idea of such a valuable site being donated to them appealing. But do my neighbours really want a school, which is not accountable to parents or to the local community but to investors in Switzerland? The other project is for a Steiner School, serving a niche religious group, which by their own account will attract pupils from all over North and East London. Hardly a local school then, as the daily "school run" gridlock on our roads will show.
Subject: New housing proposal for former Ashmount School site - Islington Council News Release
Islington Council PR 5191 30/01/2014 [For Immediate Release]
New housing proposal for former Ashmount School site
Badly-needed affordable housing would be built on the site of the former Ashmount School under a new proposal from Islington Council.
The site in Archway, N19, closed in December 2012 when pupils moved to a modern school on a new site at nearby Crouch Hill Park.
Islington Council wants to use the land, no longer needed by the council for educational purposes, to build much-needed affordable homes.
But the Secretary of State for Education has told the council he proposes to establish a new free primary school, Whitehall Park School, at the site.
The council argues the free primary school is not needed as there is already plenty of good provision for local Islington children, so the free school is poor value for money for the taxpayer. Also the land is badly needed for local homes.
Now a report to the council's Executive proposes that half of the site is used for the new free school, and half to provide affordable homes.
The report also sets out a proposal to establish the Bridge Integrated Learning Space, a mixed special school for pupils aged 7-19, in a new building at the council's Dowrey Street site. The new building would also house the New River College Primary PRU.
Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington Council's executive member for children and families, said: "We are still firmly opposed to a free school on the old Ashmount site.
"We have shown we have plenty of planned primary school places in our schools, and that parents can already expect a first-rate education in Islington for their children.
"However, the Department for Education seem determined to proceed with a free school which is not needed, and it's our responsibility to make sure families in the borough get the maximum benefit from the site.
"That's why we are bringing a report to our Executive that sets out a plan for the future of the old Ashmount site, and also the Bridge Integrated Learning Space and our Pupil Referral Unit at Dowrey Street.
"Essentially we are proposing to split the Ashmount site in half, with half the site retained for approximately 50 affordable homes.
"This split would provide the free school with enough outside space to meet national guidance and would be comparable to other similar-sized schools in the borough, while also allowing us to build badly-needed affordable family homes.
"This whole process has been chaotic and opaque so we have decided to set out a clear position. The ball is now in the DfE's court."
The report will be considered by Islington Council's Executive on Thursday, February 6.
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