My eldest daughter is about to start school in September so I am becoming aware of educational choices from a parental perspective. I also work in the field of educational provision from the point of view of supply in another local authority area, and I am a school governor in Lewisham. My concerns and hence interest in this site were sparked by proposals to set up a Montessori Free school in my area
citing pressure on reception places as a means of gaining support for the new school. Also my daughters likely school was considering becoming an Academy, something which I found appalling. At the open afternoon, some of the parents of SEN children felt that their questions were dismissed out of hand.
In addition with respect to the free school campaign
there has been considerable misrepresentation of the local authority's actions or inaction in dealing with the problem - again all to boost the campaign which is actually very well run and very well supported financially. The marketing and advertising is pretty slick and very convincing but relying on misinformation and false promises. However, as a governor of a state primary I am aware of what the local authority is doing across the borough and also that a new school is not necessarily the most cost effective or best way of solving local problems when many existing schools could be remodelled and extended for a fraction of the cost of a new school and still leave some change for repairs and modernisation of others. In addition our local schools are all fairly good and I want them to stay that way but to be adequately funded which again I see threatened by government policy.
I am also concerned at the concept of a Montessori school which is already attracting interest from outside the borough hence I see this as doing little to provide enhanced places for Lewisham children. Having such a defined philosophy it is not likely to be able to fill its places from the immediate locality. The campaigners however refuse to tackle the serious questions instead seeking to fuel panic and concern amongst local people and misrepresent the situation. Is it really all so simple that a group of people can just get together, peddle inaccuracies about the facts, make a whole series of promises and assurances about meeting the need of local children when in fact it will be a minority and the balance will have to come from outside Lewisham, and get a new specialist school established with taxpayers funds? Just like that?
Apparently so which fills me even more with dismay than Gove's circus at the Tory party conference did. I would therefore like and welcome advice and support to ensure that the misinformative propaganda for this campaign is counteracted , that the virtues of state schools are extolled and promoted, and that this school is not established without a full impact assessment on the local community and local provision.