CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

We will protect our family of schools

We want our young people to be active citizens, argues Georgia Gould, responding to a Forum piece of seven days ago which criticised the borough’s schools

24 August, 2017 — By Georgia Gould

Cllr Georgia Gould, the leader of Camden Council and a former pupil of Camden School for Girls

CAMDEN gave me and my sister a brilliant comprehensive education.

Our Camden friends are still our best ones and whether they are doctors, artists or working with refugees, they all have a kind of restless energy to engage and change the world around them.

I am proud that Camden students tend to be outspoken and that when we proposed cuts to youth services our chamber was full of passionate, articulate, teenagers arguing their case who changed our plans.

Whatever their politics we want our young people to be active citizens and to stand up for what they believe in.

And our schools have been deeply successful.

Children from disadvan­taged households make better progress in Camden secondary schools than their peers do nationally and those in Camden primary schools are the sixth highest achieving in the country.

But you can’t hide from the deep inequalities in our borough.

I saw too many friends fall out of education early and too many of us end up repeating the educational trajectories of our parents rather than our potential.

There are young people for whom the glass buildings of King’s Cross still feel a million miles away, not a few yards down the street.

I remember when I started at Oxford being overwhelmed by the elitism and misogyny that still existed there.

I met people I thought only existed in history books.

But mostly I felt angry that there were so many people I knew from Camden who were brighter and had more to say but would never have applied.

One of the first things I did as a councillor was set up a white working class achievement project as this is still the biggest gap for our students.

Every year Angela Mason, who leads on education, and I attend the Somali achievement awards and hear the brilliant progress of our students; but many don’t have the networks that will give them the opportunities they deserve. There is still so much we have to do.

We are trying to challenge massive structural inequalities in the face of a national political agenda that deepens them.

There is no complacency in Camden. We won’t stop until every child in Camden has the best that this borough can give them, including access to all the technological and creative riches on our doorstep.

And I know our heads and teachers share that drive.

Every single week they put in the long hours to innovate and develop an enriching curriculum in the face of sweeping cuts to schools.

The council and our family of schools have set up Camden Learning, a new collaborative endeavour to keep driving forward school improvement by schools for schools which has already won new external funding.

We are leading the way in London on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) by making sure our young people get a fusion of technical and creative education.

And we will continue to invest in the early years, youth and family support that need to sit alongside great schools.

We reject the government doctrine that improvement requires competition.

We will protect our family of schools.

Our mission is to give young people academic excellence but never forget that our schools are part of our community and we are bringing up the citizens of the future.

I am a governor of William Ellis and at a recent inspection Ofsted praised the well-rounded education and social, moral and cultural develop­ment that turned our boys into confident young men.

I am proud of the young people our schools send out into the world.

We have a community in Camden of parents, alumni and teachers who care about comprehensive schools.

Let’s not run down their achievements but unite around a mission to give every young person here the opportunities they deserve.

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