The Whitehall Park School: Further Announcements

David Barry's picture
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I am on the emailing list for the new Whitehall Park School, so although they do not respond to emails I send, they do write to me quite often..

Yet despite regularly updating me on the "progress they are making" and how "everything is still on course for the school to open on the old Ashmount site in autumn 2014" and urging parents to apply by the closing date of 15 January they have still to mention the new consultation in a general email.

They recently announced the appointment of an "outstanding new headteacher designate" but no further information such as a name, but they did provide an opportunity to meet her thus:-

"Our Headmistress Designate will be hosting an informal Coffee Morning on Thursday 9th January for those who have been unable to attend our evening events."

Actually they reminded me of this several times so it seemed churlish not to drop along to the local cafe, where, indeed, the coffee was good, and free.

I can now reveal the identity of their new Head. She was there, and was introduced to us. Her name is Laura Birkett. She is currently Head of St John the Baptist School in Hackney. This is a one and a half form entry, Church of England school.

The Bellevue Ltd representative present when asked about the site confirmed that:-

1. Negotiations were (still) ongoing, but they were confident of a positive outcome as there had been some movement.

2. That he understood a proposal was going to be made to Islington to split the site, with part of it going to the new school and part of it being retained by Islington. This idea was, he understood, being put forward to overcome Islington's intransigence.

3. He understood that the Education Funding Agency (EFA) was moving in the direction of a demolish and rebuild rather than a refurbishment. The new building would then be fit for a school in the 21st Century, and would use space more efficiently than the current building so it would not matter if the site were smaller.

4.He said nothing about the consultation.

5 He said that applications for the school were "flooding in" and he had been surprised how many were from Haringey.

6. In answer to a question as to why the Free School was opposed by, for example, local Headteachers, it was suggested that it was "natural for people to be frightened of change" but they looked forward to working with local schools in future, as people would come around once the new school was an established fact.

There were about a dozen parents present united by a strong conviction that there is a serious school place shortage in the area and that without the new school there would be no place for their child. (This view has been fostered by Bellevue Ltd). As stated above, the Bellevue representative said that applications for the school were "flooding in" and he had been surprised how many were from Haringey.

[Note: The old Ashmount School site fronts on to Ashmount Road and Hornsey Lane, the border between Islington and Haringey so children frequently cross the frontier in both directions.]

So far as I can gather the Islington view of what is going on is that they have recently been informed the Minister is now "minded to take the site" but they know nothing else. If there have been discussions regarding splitting the site then these must have been between the EFA and Bellevue Ltd. So by attending the meeting I may have become better informed than Islington Council, for what that is worth.
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