CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Creating a new school in Hampstead doesn’t make sense

13 June, 2019

New End School, left, and the former police station in Rosslyn Hill lined up for the Abacus free school

• CONTRARY to the implication of your headline (Police station school poses ‘serious threat’ to New End School, June 6), New End School’s continued existence is not under threat; but its finances certainly face a continuing squeeze, just like all our state schools.

Your Comment piece in the same issue, about the application to move abacus school into the former police station in Hampstead (Free school’s unfair advantage in education marketplace), is spot on: official encouragement of new free schools with their own, generous, ring-fenced funding undermines the effectiveness of all the other schools in the area.

Not only would abacus benefit from the gift of a £14million building, but it would be tempting pupils away from the other primary schools in the area, which have already been subjected to years of salami-slicing cuts.

The New Journal has regularly highlighted the pressures budget cuts impose on our schools, for example, the inability to fill vacancies when teachers or teaching assistants leave and the struggle to buy even basic equipment and supplies.

Camden Council’s own projections show the number of primary age children will continue to fall, partly because of the low birth rate; partly because new housing focuses on the needs of single people and couples rather than families with children; partly because of the Brexit-induced exodus of European Union citizens from the borough.

Further competition for the limited (and shrinking) number of pupils will mean that all our primary schools will be chasing a smaller and smaller pot of money. So creating a new school in Hampstead doesn’t make any sense, especially as it flies in the face of the council’s own planning guidelines.

LINDA DAVIES
Chair, New End School
Streatley Place, NW3

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