The Old Ashmount Site
Below is an account of the dialogue between the interested parties. Stands have been taken, statistics produced, many of them contradictory, but opinions have been expressed and much useful and interesting information generated over the years, which we present here for your edification.
Articles from third parties are presented as received and do not necessarily reflect views held by WHPARA. They are in reverse chronological order, i.e. most recent first.
5/2/15 - The Future of the Site, from Islington Council
- Received from Cllr David Poyser 5/2/15The Future of the Former Ashmount SiteAn Update from Hillrise Ward CouncillorsAfter many years of uncertainty, there is a new Whitehall Park school underway running from Portakabins on the site of the former Ashmount school. If/when the new school reaches capacity, it will have a much smaller entry than the previous school on the site, and its use of space will be better (they hope to, for example, have an additional play area on part of a roof), so even allowing for play space above national and local guidelines, this still leaves space for much-needed housing on the rest of the site.
Islington has a huge need for more social housing – for example there are many young families desperate to move out of the ‘grandparents’ over-crowded home. Nearby residents (which could, for example, include people in overcrowded flats on the Hornsey Lane Estate) will get priority in the allocation of the social housing.
Local residents have asked us for information about the future of the site. Many decisions are yet to be made, but in answer to the questions, this is an update of the current situation. Up to around 50 new homes are likely to be built on the site, though the exact numbers and design will depend on what happens in terms of the new school.
Last year, the owners of the new school looked at the cost of retaining the old school building and, like Islington’s experts before them, the cost of doing so was so prohibitive that the only way forward was to build a new school from scratch. The good news is the much-loved cockerel sculpture on the front of the school is incorporated in the plans for the new building. New plans have been displayed by the school after in-put from the Islington Design Review Panel, a group of local architects and experts who meet regularly to advise the Council Planning Team on design questions.
Just before Christmas, the attempts to judicially review the secretary of state’s decisions for the site were finally exhausted and (separately) the Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association (ISHA) were appointed by the Council to make proposals for the remainder of the site. See Islington’s Executive report (pdf, 6.3MB) or download just the section on the Ashmount site (pdf, 541kB).
Housing Plans for the site
In terms of the ‘housing mix’ (social housing / private housing) and the numbers, the above link states “The revised housing proposals that are being worked up in more detail by ISHA for the retained portion of the site suggest that up to 51 new homes could be built on the site, subject to the necessary planning and other consents. The majority of these new homes would be affordable with a mix of homes for social rent and shared ownership. The anticipated capital receipt would be apportioned from their original offer of an 80% affordable housing scheme on the whole site” (Section 3.13).
ISHA are now working on their plans for housing on the site, and will shortly be consulting locally with residents about their proposed plans. They will be keen to come to meetings. Local residents will have opportunities to get involved both directly with ISHA and through the formal planning process when their planning application goes in.
It is possible that planning constraints around the need to balance the school site with the housing site may mean there are less than the proposed 51 new homes. As Islington’s Executive said, the plan is that at least 80% of these new homes will be ‘affordable’ (the planning policy requirement is a minimum of 50% affordable housing). They will be a mix of ‘social rent’ and ‘shared ownership’ - the council’s general policy is that around 70% of the affordable housing is for social rent, with the other 30% being shared ownership. However these proportions have not yet been exactly determined as this is dependent on finances, planning, design and so on. The new homes will not all be houses – it is likely there will be some houses and some flats.
Given the planning procedure, although the school are understandably keen to create permanent buildings for their young children, ISHA have not yet got a clear planning application timetable. We will let WHPARA know when they do, but we can say that it will not be at Islington Planning Committee before May 2015 due to all the pre-application steps they need to go through (this includes the resident consultation). Whilst they are separate applications, Islington’s Planning Department are aligning the timetables of the school and the housing as far as possible.
Trees on the site
Finally, the site has a number of trees (and there is wildlife associated with the trees), and residents have mentioned this. There are some strict planning policies around tree preservation. These involve evaluating individual trees on the site as to their conservation importance. Planning consultations will make clear which trees, after the evaluation, are proposed for removal, and whether there any plans to replace them elsewhere in the site. For this reason, in the ‘pre-planning’ process for the school, maintaining trees where possible has been an important factor in the siting of the buildings. In overall terms, Islington is proud of its pioneering steps making us a ‘Green’ Borough, for example the 20 mph speed limit has now been copied by many other London Boroughs.
Ward Partnership meetings
We are very aware that the decision to move the school, and the proposals for the subsequent future of the site, have created a lot of local feeling, some of it very bitter. Whitehall Park is a wonderful area. We hope that now overall decisions are agreed by both central government and Islington, that the consultations about carrying out those decisions, will be conducted in an open, consultative and cordial way.
We will be returning to this issue in future ‘Ward Partnership’ meetings, where local residents (who have the time!) are encouraged to come and share their views on Ward issues. If you are too busy, the minutes go up on the web-site. We try to arrange speakers to help discussion. The dates (and, when they are ready, the agendas) are on the Islington web-site http://www.islington.gov.uk/involved/ward-partnerships/Pages/hillrise.aspx.
Councillor Joe Caluori, responsible for Education in Islington, came to the most recent meeting to update the people there on the plans for the site. He affirmed that although Whitehall Park, the new free school on the site, is not part of Islington Education Authority, we see it as part of the Islington ‘family of schools’ and we wish the school, and the Islington children attending it, all the best (just as a ‘by the way’, this year, Islington’s GCSE results rose to 34th in the country, compared with 2010 when the current administration took over when Islington schools ranked 143rd out of 152). ISHA will also be invited to Ward Partnerships (and will also come to local resident meetings if you invite them). If you are able to come, we also had a presentation about TfL’s proposed changes to the Archway at our recent Ward Partnership meeting.
Keep in touch
Please do not hesitate to contact us on the former school site issue or any other issue. Our surgery details and emails are below, and we look forward to meeting those of you we have not already met, over the coming years.
Cllr Michelline Safi Ngongo. First Wednesday of the month at 6-7 pm at St Mary’s Church, Ashley Road, N19. email@example.com
Cllr David Poyser. Third Saturday of the month at 11.00 am at Hornsey Lane Community Centre, Hazelville Road, N19. Dave.firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Marian Spall. Last Monday of the month at 6.00 pm at Caxton House, 129 St John’s Way, N19 3RQ. There is no surgery in August, December or on Bank Holidays. Marian.email@example.com
(No surgeries in August or on Bank Holidays)
12/1/15 - A Farewell from ASAG
- Received from ASAG 12/1/15:Farewell, and an invitation to Trattoria Terra in Hazellville Road on Monday 19 January at 7pm.This is to thank you for your support for the successful campaign to save the former Ashmount School for the education of local children.
This is also to invite you to an informal meeting of ASAG at Trattoria Terra in Hazellville Road on Monday 19 January at 7pm. We know that local people have concerns about what is to come, and this is to be an opportunity to air and discuss those concerns.
ASAG began seven years ago as a group of local residents opposed to the move of Ashmount School to Crouch Hill - to the detriment of this local area. The school moved, but we continued to campaign for the site to be kept in educational use, a case strengthened by the oddly overlooked future shortage of primary school places in the area.
That battle was won, and Whitehall Park School has successfully opened and should be able to cater for all the local children who need primary school places – all surrounding schools are at capacity or over capacity with bulge classes, an issue that is predicted to become a crisis in the near future, though perhaps less of a crisis with the new school! And having a free school to compare with the local authority schools should help to maintain standards all round.
ASAG is very pleased that the school is state-funded, free, non-selective and non-denominational - a marvellous investment in the future of this community.
Cruelly however, LB Islington last year asked the Department for Education to release the rear half of the school site for housing (essentially to gift them the entire playground), and the DfE agreed, despite reasonable arguments put forward by ASAG - such as the problem of child health and obesity when insufficient playground space is available in schools. It is sobering to think that the new purpose built Ashmount School at Crouch Hill is astonishingly short of a proper playground - parents of children at that school are far from content. LBI clearly does not prioritise school playgrounds in general.
As you know, ASAG's application for judicial review of that decision was refused last month.
The Committee has therefore decided that ASAG’s role has come to an end. Much activity will now take place on the site:
And there will be issues around the fact that this is a conservation area. The trees (the taller trees on the site are subject to preservation orders, but are now doubtless at risk), the design and height of the buildings, and not forgetting that the cockerel is nationally listed, will all be issues of great concern locally.
- The plans for the new school will be developed and consulted on, though the anticipated opening date of the new buildings - September this year - looks over-optimistic
- The housing development plans will be consulted on, though construction will have to wait until the temporary school buildings are moved off the part of the site where the housing will be going
Local people may want to get together through the Whitehall Park Area Residents Association (WHPARA) or otherwise to present views about the developments. If you have developed a mistrust of London Borough of Islington over the last few years you may wonder how best (even if it is all possible!) to engage with the process, but that will not be ASAG’s role. ASAG does not believe LBI would wish to deal with those who fought successfully to save the site for educational purposes. And of course, the local press have been, to say the least, partial in their reporting. All good reasons for ASAG to disappear gracefully.
The feedback that Committee members have received since the refusal of judicial review and the effective loss of playground space at the new school has nevertheless included a recognition that we, the local community, have done all we could to save the Ashmount site for educational use.
You are very welcome to Trattoria Terra on 19 January at 7pm, when ASAG looks forward to seeing you.
17/12/14 - ASAG Judicial Review Part 3
- Received from ASAG 17/12/14:NEWS FROM THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE
Before JOHN HOWELL QC
(Sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge)
Wednesday 17 December, 2014
ASAG today had its day in Court - but it is with great sadness that we now write to say that ASAG were denied the Judicial Review that was believed would have seen the Secretary of State and London Borough of Islington give proper credence to the Government’s own playground regulations and not give the playground site over to housing development.
The Secretary of State and London Borough of Islington have asked for, and been awarded, £10,000 towards their costs - a large sum that surely prevents any thought of appeal.
The judgment makes a number of points, but the main thrust of the it says that the regulations have been not breached. This is galling because of course the former school enjoyed a decent playground, but the new one will have far less. Whatever the spirit of the regulations migt be, they do not protect play space. The judgment makes clear that the absence of proper guarantees in legislation or regulation leaves the Secretary of State and London Borough of Islington free to eliminate, if needed, all and any play space.
The absurdity of this judgment is plain - but the regulations are proven to be insufficient to safeguard the playground.
Children in the future will have to make do with what is left after the developers have had their land.
Under the circumstances, ASAG is not asking for any further donations, and will now review the funds it has already gathered to see if they match current awards made by the Court. However, ASAG does not expect to have to fund raise any further, pending a further public meeting and any new resolutions that any be made by the community.
1/12/14 - ASAG Judicial Review Part 2
- Received from ASAG 1/12/14:Join the Community’s Fight!
SAVE THE SCHOOL PLAYGROUND!
The legal review of the Secretary of State’s decision to squash Whitehall Park School into half the old school site is under way. (The Secretary of State for Education gave in to LB Islington’s demand for 51% of the site to be used for housing.) Don’t let him spoil the success of keeping the site for a school, which we have all achieved.
At the hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand on 17 December ASAG will be asking for permission to challenge that decision. It’s a public hearing.
The review is expensive, and might cost us £35,000 if we lose – but we would expect to get our costs paid if we win. There is no point in asking for permission if we’re not prepared to fund the full hearing.
At the public meeting on 19 November there wasn’t a single voice raised against this legal review, and an amazing £15,000 was pledged, most of which has now been paid into the ASAG account, at £500 a time. Of course those who pay will get their money back if we win. There’s no guarantee.
You probably know from previous emails, leaflets and meetings what the issues are:
- The play space for the children will be half the recommended size in the Government’s own guidelines. The new Ashmount School site is well known to be too small, and we don’t want that mistake again
- Obesity among Islington children is a particular problem
- Islington has the smallest amount of public open space of any London borough
- Whitehall Park School would like the whole space for the school
- The full site provides flexibility for the school to grow
- The 50 housing units, without parking provision, would seriously aggravate local parking problems
Please read the attached note (click here, 220Kb) about contributing to the fund and give what you think this is worth, but £500 would be excellent!
If you would like to find out more about any of these issues or about the court hearing, or you just want to drop in and give your views, you will be welcome:
84 Whitehall Park
7 December 2014, between 10.30 and 12.30
Whitehall Park School Site - Public Consultation 13/11/14
- Received from Whitehall Park School 7/11/14:“Whitehall Park School and Bellevue Place Education Trust would like to invite you to our Public Consultation Drop-In Session to learn more about our proposals for the development of Whitehall Park School over the coming months. This will give you an opportunity to take a look at our ideas and hear about our suggestions for the future of Whitehall Park School and to share with us your views about the site. The Public Consultation Drop-In Session will take place on:
Thursday 13th November 2014 from 4-7pm at Whitehall Park School, Ashmount Road, London, N19 3BH.
Over the last few months, a great deal of work has been going on behind the scenes to determine what may be the most effective solution for the permanent school site for Whitehall Park School. Various forms of professional surveys and investigations have been taking place to help our architects and surveyors as we work together as team to find a way to ensure that we can retain the natural beauty and environment of the old Ashmount School site and grounds. Many ideas have been explored and considered in great depth, including the possibility of refurbishing or developing parts or all of the existing buildings.
We look forward to welcoming you to Whitehall Park School and hope you are able to drop in at some point between 4pm and 7pm next Thursday.
Reply to: Office@whitehallparkschool.org.uk
22/9/14 - ASAG Judicial Review Part 1
- Received from ASAG 22/9/14:Judicial Review of decision to dispose of the school playground
“It was agreed at the public meeting in March that if the Department for Education approved the 49/51% split of the Ashmount site, so that the school loses the whole of its playground area, then we would apply for the decision to be judicially reviewed, as the small amount of outside space remaining would be contrary to the Government’s own guidelines on the amount of play space that primary school children need.
As you probably know, the Department for Education did agree to allow Islington’s plans for the playground to built on. So we have followed your views as expressed at the public meeting and applied for judicial review.
Judicial review is a two-stage process, the first stage being to apply for permission, and we shall let you know when a date for the permission hearing has been set. At that time another public meeting will be arranged so that we can let you know what the next steps are, and can make sure that those steps have your full support.
It has come to ASAG's attention that some people are claiming that the Ashmount site is to be transferred without charge to private ownership, specifically Bellevue Education Ltd, a commercial (for-profit) company.
This is both untrue and misleading. The site will be leased to Bellevue Place Education Trust, a non-profit-making charitable trust, for the purpose of running a state primary school for all local children, financed by central government, as stated on the school's web site, http://www.islingtonfreeprimary.co.uk/about-us/.
In common with all free school and academy trusts, the trust will only be able to use the land for the school. If the trust were wound up, the property would pass back to the Department for Education. Furthermore, the trust will be strictly non-profit-making. It can neither make profits itself, nor are the promoters allowed to charge services to it at a profit.”
7/8/14 - Statement from Councillors
- Our three Hillrise Ward councillors provided the following joint statement:“At last the Coalition government have finally made a decision, and the local people know the future of the derelict site of the former Ashmount school. We look forward to working with local residents as plans for the new school and the much-needed social housing go ahead. We wish the new school every success as it joins the Islington family of schools.
We are very pleased that the Islington residents crammed into social housing in the Hornsey Lane Estate, and other social housing in the area, will be top of the priority list for rehousing when the new social housing is built.
It’s unfortunate for the local residents that the government’s EFA has taken so long to make a decision on this site, but now we have a decision, the planning process first for building a new two form entry school, and then for a mix of social housing and private housing on the remainder of the site, can get under way.
We can now go ahead with ‘Ward Partnerships’ (public meetings) to listen to the views of local residents about the proposals for the site in the autumn. We talked with many hundreds of local residents in the run up to the Election. The people in the area gave overwhelming support for Islington Labour’s policies, supporting public housing, when we were elected in the Election on May 22nd with an overwhelming majority.”
Councillors Dave Poyser, Michelline Ngongo and Marian Spall, 7/8/14
1/7/14 - Planning Approved
- Press release received from Whitehall Park School 1/7/14:Planning permission approved for Whitehall Park School
Planning permission has been approved for the establishment of Whitehall Park School’s temporary classrooms on the former Ashmount School site on the Islington/ Haringey border on Hornsey Lane, N19.
The primary school is on track to open at the site with two Reception classes this September. Whitehall Park School’s Headteacher, Laura Birkett, says: “We had every confidence that the plans would be approved and have been working hard in the background finalising the detail of the high quality temporary buildings and outdoor learning area which will accommodate our Reception pupils during our opening year. We will have everything in place to provide our pupils with a stimulating, safe and welcoming environment from Wednesday 3rd September and we look forward to sharing more details with everyone shortly.
“We are also currently developing our draft travel plan into a fully working and operational one. As part of this we will be actively encouraging parents to use sustainable transport methods to travel to and from school. This will not only minimise the environmental impact of car travel but also that on our neighbours living in the adjacent streets.”
A planning application will be submitted this autumn for the school’s permanent building. Phase One of the permanent structure, scheduled to open in September 2015, will accommodate children from Reception to Year 2. Phase Two is due to be handed over a couple of months later, although this area of the building will not be required until the school’s first pupils reach Year 3 (Key Stage 2) in September 2017. Outdoor space will include hard and soft play areas, a rooftop play area and a multi-use games area, providing Whitehall Park School with more outdoor play area than was available to the school that was previously located at the site.
As the appeals process draws to a close, those considering one of the limited number of Reception places available at Whitehall Park School for their child for this September are invited to contact the Headteacher, Laura Birkett, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving a message on 0845 459 0113.
3/6/14 - Project plan finalised
- Received from Whitehall Park School 3/6/14:
Further to our latest site update, we are delighted to announce that the project plan for the construction of Whitehall Park School’s permanent building on the former Ashmount School site on Hornsey Lane has now been finalised.
A planning application will be submitted this autumn. The project plan, which has been produced by building professionals with a wealth of experience, predicts that the contractor will start on site in January 2015. As Whitehall Park School will only require space for a maximum of 116 pupils in September 2015, an achievable two-phase construction handover is planned.
Phase One of the new building, which will accommodate Reception and Key Stage 1 classes (Years 1 and 2), is scheduled for completion for September 2015. Phase Two is due to be handed over just two months later, although this area of the building will not be required until our first pupils reach Year 3 (Key Stage 2) in September 2017.
A building contractor will be appointed following a strict procurement process. The construction works will be funded by the Department for Education and the Education Funding Agency will be involved every step of the way to ensure that the project is delivered on time and to budget.
The proposals for the construction of high-quality temporary buildings which will accommodate the Reception pupils joining Whitehall Park School this September have been submitted to Islington council and the tenders requested from companies to supply these have now been received. We look forward to announcing the details of these shortly.
The Whitehall Park School Team
8/5/14 - WPS a “Popular Choice”
- Received from Whitehall Park School 16/5/14:
Whitehall Park School proves a popular choice for local families
We are delighted to confirm that Whitehall Park School has surpassed the number of acceptances that our Funding Agreement required to open. 40 families have already accepted the offer of a Reception place for their child for this September, with further families on the school’s waiting list, or due to respond to their offer.
Laura Birkett, Headteacher, says: “I’m thrilled that we have reached such a high number of acceptances so early on in the admissions process. We are still receiving a steady stream of applications to join our waiting list, some from families who have only recently heard of our school.”
This time last year, the Trust’s first primary free school, Rutherford House School in Balham, had received similar levels of acceptances, yet the school opened successfully and was at full capacity (bar one) by the time of the Autumn Census and full with a waiting list by Christmas. Rutherford House has received over 300 applications for its 60 Reception places available for this September.
Laura adds: “As Cllr Joe Caluori recently explained in the Islington Gazette, we are expecting some movement in primary admissions which will help the one in four children in Islington who were not allocated a place at their first choice primary last month and the 144 children who were not offered a place at any of their six chosen schools. We will open with two Reception classes, and encourage parents and carers to join our waiting list. For the first year we are able to accommodate up to 28 pupils in each class, which is still a smaller class size than at many state primaries.”
Laura is planning on visiting all the local nurseries, children’s centres, and playgroups over the next few weeks to see our children in their current learning environment and to answer any questions that other parents/carers may have about Whitehall Park School.
Laura takes up her post at Whitehall Park School on Monday 19th May from St John the Baptist C of E Primary School in Hoxton where, as Head of School, she led the transformation of the school from challenging circumstances to a much improved Ofsted rating last April of ‘Good, with Outstanding Features’. Pupils will also benefit from being taught by highly qualified and experienced teachers who have now been appointed to the school.
As Whitehall Park School is running its own admissions for the first year of opening, parents are invited to join the waiting list by completing the short online application form at www.whitehallparkschool.co.uk/apply.
Those interested in finding out more about Whitehall Park School are invited to contact Laura Birkett at email@example.com or by leaving a message on 0845 459 0113.
8/5/14 - Update from WPS
- Received from Whitehall Park School 8/5/14:
Whitehall Park School reaches another milestone
We are thrilled to announce that Whitehall Park School has already comfortably surpassed the 24 acceptances that our Funding Agreement, signed last month by the Secretary of State, stipulates that our school must reach.
With nearly 40 applicants having already accepted their offer of a place and with 22 families currently on our waiting list, or due to respond to our offer, Whitehall Park School is set to open on the former site of Ashmount School with two Reception classes this September. It is still very early days in the admissions process and we are still receiving a steady stream of applications to join our waiting list, some from families who have only recently heard of our school.
Although we already have enough children to open our school, we are confident that we will reach our full capacity of 56: this time last year, the Trust’s first primary free school, Rutherford House School in Balham, had received fewer acceptances, yet the school opened successfully and was at full capacity (bar one) by the time of the Autumn census. You may also be interested to know that Rutherford House has received over 300 applications for the 60 Reception places available for this September, and we are sure that Whitehall Park will follow suit when parents can make our school one of their six choices when our admissions are run through LBI next year.
Our ambition is to be nothing less than excellent in all that we do and our first Reception intake will benefit from being taught by our exceptional Headteacher and Assistant Heads. If you have any questions or wish to find out more about our school, please do not hesitate to contact our Headteacher, Laura Birkett, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In further news we can confirm that tenders have been requested from companies to supply the temporary classrooms for September. Tenders are due back in the next few weeks and we hope to be able to shortly announce the details of the temporary classrooms and hall.
To add your child to our waiting list for a 2014 Reception place, simply complete the short online application form at www.whitehallparkschool.co.uk/apply. As soon as a place becomes available, an offer will be made in accordance with our admissions policy.
Whitehall Park School
30/4/14 - Playground Update from WPS
- Posted on April 30, 2014 by Team Media
There appears to be some confusion and mis-information around the site so we thought it worthwhile addressing some of these points in order that you have the information directly from us and the Department for Education:
- Representatives of the Department for Education have confirmed that the Funding Agreement between the Secretary of State for Education is in place and as such Whitehall Park School will open in September 2014 on the former Ashmount school site.
- The minimum land available for the school on the site will be half the area of the current school site. The school could increase to the whole site should a negotiated settlement with LBI not happen. However, it will never be less than half the site. It is worth noting that the original Ashmount School was a 3FE and Whitehall Park will be a 2FE so our building footprint will be significantly smaller than the building that you see on the site currently.
- Half the site represents just over 4,000 square metres. This is larger than many LBI school sites and bigger than the minimum DfE building regulations for a 2FE school in an urban environment.
- Representatives of the Department for Education confirm that there will be as much outdoor play area on the site as there was before for the previous school. This will include a multi-use games area and rooftop outdoor area for use by the pupils.
- If the school is only sited on half the site, we understand the other half of the site will be used for up to 50 housing units.
- It is proposed (if it goes ahead) that demolition of the housing side of the site will take place before September 2014.
- The temporary accommodation for September 2014 will be at the far end of the site, away from the road, leaving the remainder of the new/remodelled building to be developed.
- We are advised that the building of the housing (if it happens) will not commence until the school is out of the temporary accommodation in September 2015.
- The new school will be built/remodelled while both of our Reception classes are in the temporary accommodation. We will move into the new/remodelled building in September 2015.
Subscribe to our email newsletter here to be the first to know about the latest developments, news and events.
The Whitehall Park School Team
7/3/14 - Public Meeting Feedback
- It was a packed house at last night's public meeting, organised by ASAG to discuss the LBI plan to retain half of the Ashmount site for housing. It was standing room only as some 70 people crammed into Hornsey Lane Estate Community Centre to make their feelings known. The overwhelming majority of those present was in favour of retaining the site for educational use (though not necessarily supportive of free schools per se) and against dividing the site, and many shared their personal experiences of seeking primary school places for their children. Francis Wilkinson gave us the background and other speakers included Lib Dem campaigner Carl Quilliam and a spokesman from Bellevue, as well as the many local residents.
Click here for ASAG’s feedback from the meeting../../../resources/The-School/Ashmount/ASAG-Public-Meeting-Feedback.pdf,[iframe]
27/2/14 - From ASAG: Notice of Public Meeting
- Received from ASAG 27/2/14:
ASAG PUBLIC MEETING
Wednesday, 5th March 2014 at 7.30pm
Venue: Community Centre on Hornsey Lane Estate
Entrance to the estate is off Ashmount Road, to the left of number 28
Express Your Views on London Borough of Islington’s LAND GRAB of the ‘OLD’ ASHMOUNT SCHOOL PLAYGROUND
The proposed Whitehall Park School on the former Ashmount School site is set to open in September 2014. But London Borough of Islington propose to sell off 51% of the site to a housing developer, losing the whole of the existing playground. An illustration of the LBI plan appears above.
And yet the site should be 95% of its current size to meet national guidelines for space for primary school children. Should the playground be built on? Does housing always trump child health and educational needs? Salami slicing kids’ play space is London Borough of Islington’s proposal. Their division of the site would also mean losing trees – the school site enjoys many listed trees. They will go.
- Hearing local views
- Briefings on the latest LBI proposals and current situation with Department for Education
- Briefing on health implications for children: inadequate play space is a proven contributor to obesity among children
- Proposing a fighting fund
22 May local elections
Local Lib Dems have come out in support of saving 100% of the site for the new school. LBI don’t make the decisions about this, central Government does and ASAG has helped win a great victory by keeping the site as a school. The Government needs to know what local people think about this public resource - are education and child health negotiable?
10/2/14 - LBI Executive Approves Playground Plans - feedback from ASAG
- Received from ASAG 9/2/14
LBI Executive rubber-stamp their plan to seize new Whitehall Park School playground - despite soaring obesity among school children
At a more than usually choreographed meeting on Thursday 6 February the Executive of the London Borough of Islington approved the proposals put before them to take 51% of the Ashmount site - the school playgrounds - for a housing development. Councillors made supportive noises to each other when trying to answer
- How it was that they were being asked to make a decision when they had no information whatever in the paper as to what central government (the Education Funding Agency) might pay for the site if Islington were to agree to its transfer to Whitehall Park School
- How Islington’s high level of childhood obesity would be addressed without adequate playspace - Councillor Janet Burgess praised a school with minimal playspace for having ‘only’ 21% obesity among 10-year-olds. Is a fifth of 10-year-olds being obese regarded by anyone else as acceptable?!
- Whether putting housing on the thin Southern strip of the site is feasible in terms of access. Councillor Joe Caluori said that was for the later planning stage, but that is obvious nonsense - whether the Executive’s plan is feasible at all had to be considered at this stage. There was no mention of that in the paper anywhere.
- How halving the size of the site could be justified when the national BB99 standard for space per child at primary schools requires 95% of the site. Councillor Caluori said that standard is obsolete, but it is not: it is the current standard used now by the Department for Education. It is under review, but nothing has replaced it. Councillor Caluori did not venture to say what he thinks the right amount of space per child is.
The supportive noises were not heard from any other part of the meeting room. ASAG’s contribution was strictly time-limited (3 minutes). The opportunity for other people to speak was offered for perhaps 2 seconds before the Leader, Richard Watts, removed the opportunity by putting the proposals to the vote. Nobody was quick enough to get in. There was not the slightest quibble about any of the above matters raised by any of the Executive (the Executive is made up entirely of councillors from the majority party, which at present is Labour).
Those who want the whole site kept for educational purposes will want to bear in mind that the decision about whether half the site - or indeed any part of it - is to be released for something other than educational use is not a decision for local councillors. It is a decision for the Secretary of State. The Education Funding Agency, who negotiate on the Secretary of State’s behalf, has proposed that the Bridge Special School also move to the Ashmount Road site from September 2015, a year after Whitehall Park School opens on the site. That school has a capacity of 25 children with special needs aged between 7 and 19: at present they have 23 children. It is also to become a free school. Moving the Bridge School will provide a site that LB Islington can (and will) then use for housing, so it ought to be an attractive option for councillors. But the Executive is apparently unable to see the benefits for everyone in the Education Funding Agency’s proposal, so have adopted a muddled, unworkable and unrealistic proposal instead.
- Muddled because it does not perceive the advantages of the central government proposal, but sticks to the old line that there should be housing on the old Ashmount site without having the information on which to base a decision
- Unworkable because it leaves a site inadequate for a school, the only plan provided being a site plan with a line drawn down the middle: no buildings or anything else appear on the site
- Unrealistic because the plan hasn’t been agreed with the EFA (and won’t be, we sincerely hope) so that the Executive’s decision is just so much hot air. Any decision as to the future use of the site should have been delayed until after the Secretary of State’s decision is known, which is expected to be next month.
This outcome of the Meeting cannot be described as good news, since the Executive might have recognised that no decision could sensibly be taken by them at this stage. On the other hand it is unlikely to have much effect on the decision to be taken by the Education Funding Agency because the proposals adopted by the LBI Executive are so unsoundly based.
ASAG will continue to campaign on your behalf for the site to be kept for educational use. We shall report to you as soon as we hear the Secretary of State’s decision.
3/2/14 - ASAG on School Playground
- Received from ASAG 3/2/14
LBI eyes up Whitehall Park School’s playground...
ASAG welcomes the Department for Education’s proposal for both Whitehall Park School and Bridge Integrated Learning Space to be housed on the Ashmount Road Site. It calls for LBI Executive to reject a proposed refusal to negotiate on this basis. (A background note can be read below).
The Ashmount Site Action Group (‘ASAG’) has campaigned for more that 5 years for the site of Ashmount School in Hornsey Lane to be retained in educational use. There is a fully researched case showing the un-met need for primary school places in the area, and the new school will be full. We have been opposed by London Borough of Islington (LBI)’s Executive all along, and are very pleased indeed that the Department for Education has overruled Islington and has decided that the site will be kept for a school. The new school is opening in September this year and will be known as Whitehall Park School. It will be a mainstream state primary school, and a Free School. LB Islington now acknowledges this.
The Department for Education proposes that Whitehall Park School share the site with the Bridge Special School, which will become a free school known as ‘Bridge Integrated Learning Space’. That school is currently in premises not far away in Elthorne Road and it is proposed that it will move in September 2015.
LBI opposes that move and instead proposes that the southern half of the old Ashmount School site be used for housing, and the Bridge School move to a site in Dowrey Street, (2.5 miles away from Elthorne Road) in the centre of the Borough. A paper making that proposal is being presented to the LB Islington Executive Committee this Thursday 6 February (see here). The public and press may or may not be admitted to this meeting.
ASAG is completely opposed to the splitting of the site as proposed to the LBI Executive. There are a number of excellent reasons why LB Islington should not approve any such plan, and indeed is not in a position to be able to do so. The reasons are:
- The existing grounds of the new Whitehall Park School are the right size for a primary school of the size it will be (2-form entry) using the national guidelines – obviously taking half the site for housing would mean the grounds would be half the correct size.
- There is good evidence that opportunities for exercise, which would be much reduced with half the grounds, are a significant positive contributor to child health. That subject is not considered in the paper presented to the LBI Executive (although the paper is presented by the Executive Member for Children and Families, who has responsibility for child health).
- There is no consideration at all of how practical the housing proposal would be. No consideration is given to how access would be provided to fire and refuse services, for example, or what provision there would be for disabled parking. The proposed housing site is a long thin one with very short road access.
- There is no information about what the Department for Education would pay to LBI if they agreed to the whole site being used for education. There have been extensive negotiations about the future of this site between LBI and DfE (through the Education Funding Agency). It is essential for members to know the financial consequences of the position that they are being invited to take. That financial information might be said to be exempt information, but there is no indication that the information is available to members at all.
The paper being presented to LBI Executive gives the impression of an attempt to salvage something from the wreck of a policy to build houses on the school site. It is unlikely that the DfE would agree to any such proposal. LBI Executive should gracefully accept that fact and do the best for their council tax payers by negotiating a financial payment in return for the site being retained for educational use, as it will be, and as is demonstrably necessary. Any other decision would be not only pointless but financially irresponsible.
ASAG has provided further details about this in a paper submitted to LBI Executive, and on its website at www.asag.org.uk.
Background note: The old Ashmount school was closed by LBI and removed to a school built on land acquired free of charge, thus making the old site in effect a gift to LBI. Unfortunately demographics have caught up and there is a critical and demonstrable need for continued education on the old site (despite protestations and assurance, but no data, from LBI - check the facts here (9.8Mb) - a large but exhaustive and impartial study undertaken by ASAG). A free school, called Whitehall Park School, will now open in September 2014 - this being the only option remaining after LBI declined all efforts at persuading them to retain the school. LBI have waged a relentless campaign to dispose of the site and realise its asset value. Local parents and residents have resisted, compiling a huge petition which LBI declined to accept. The latest proposal from LBI to acquire the new school’s playground is a mark of the continuing disdain for educational provision in the area.
30/1/14 - LBI’s Playground Plans
- From LBI’s website
New housing proposal for former Ashmount School site
Date: 30 January 2014
Author: Chris Roe
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.
26/1/14 - School Playground Update
- From ASAG’s website, 26/1/14
THREAT BY LBI TO CARVE UP THE ASHMOUNT SITE - Jan 2014 latest
After five years of campaigning to keep the Ashmount Site in educational use, the Ashmount Site Action Group (ASAG, formed on June 25, 2008), is approaching the final months before a decision is announced.
The Islington Tribune (January 10) have implied the LBI, after a rather reprehensible campaign of ignoring or distorting the stated wishes and needs of the local community, even ignoring a petition of local residents (which was, by their own admission, one of the largest they had ever received), they now accept that the proposed Whitehall Park School will occupy the site in September, 2014, providing this community with a much needed primary school.
However, the community must not be complacent. While forced into accepting this school under a warning that the site could be requisitioned by the Department for Education, which LBI, according to the Tribune, see as a ‘defeat’ for them, the latest stratagem is to try to retain as much of the site as possible for their housing projects. This would effectively turn the site from a normal size ‘unconfined’ primary school to a ‘confined’ restrictive site according to the DfE’s BB99 Briefing Framework for Primary School Projects.
In confining the site and thereby stopping the proposed school obtaining a natural and healthy growth, LBI feel they can still obtain profits from their high density housing proposals while once more ignoring the wishes of the community and, indeed, the school providers. ASAG is continuing to fight for Whitehall Park School to occupy the full, legitimate-sized site when it opens in September, 2014.
To this end we have asked the community to write to either the Department for Education and/or Bellevue Place, the school providers. We understand that many have already done so. If you have not done so, please do so at once. The clock is ticking. A decision is fairly imminent.
On this website you will see the official letter sent by ASAG’s chair, Francis Wilkinson, to the DfE and Bellevue-Place stating our position on behalf of local residents. (here)
To give you information about the size of the Ashmount Site and how it stands in relationship to the DfE’s recommendations for a size of a primary school (BB99) we provide the figures and analysis compiled from the DfE guidelines (here)
Finally, on this website you will find a letter from a consultant in Public Health in London who points out the important health issues that arise from such confined school sites, as LBI apparently proposes. It makes compelling reading. (here)
We urge the community to continue to support our campaign, as you have done during these long years. The DfE announcement is expected within the next two months.
Make sure that the Ashmount Site is kept in education in its entirety and no more high density housing is squeezed into this already highly populated area. It is a school that are needed here, rather than housing.
15/1/14 - School Playground Under Threat
- (See also the letters to Bellevue Place, received from our members, on the Forum page.)
Received by email from ASAG 15/1/13
Is a school playground important? - salami slicing kids’ health
You may have noticed from the local press that LB Islington has now accepted the inevitable, which is that the old Ashmount site will continue to be used for a primary school, which will be known as Whitehall Park School.
What Islington are now trying to do is to get the Department for Education to agree that while part of the site will be used as a school, part of it can be used for housing. We don’t have any information as to what percentage of the site they would like to be used for each, nor which parts.
At present there is a consultation going on about the new school, which is open only until 21 January, run by Bellevue Place who will operate the new school. This is an opportunity for you to let Bellevue Place know what you think about this proposal. See here (note the site asks you about cookies, which is normal)
The responses to the consultation will go to the Department for Education. Bellevue Place will set up a school on the site that they are given by the Department of Education.
While they cannot not control whether the Department agrees to the compromise that Islington is pushing for, the consultation is more or less the only opportunity for local residents to express their views, and show the strength of support for the maintenance of the whole site.
ASAG has campaigned for the site to remain in educational use, and that means all the site. Why do we say this?
- It would limit the future size of the school for any part of the site to be lost to educational use. The school will start as a 2-form entry school, but future demand might make 3-form entry or 4-form entry necessary. The site would be big enough to allow that.
- Once lost to educational use it would be almost impossible to get it back. It removes the opportunity to use the lost part of the site for a school or other community use in the future.
- There is a standard for the area of a new primary school, in order to provide children with enough playspace. A link is available on our website setting out the detail.
- It is important that a school meets that standard. A problem that was always foreseen with the new Ashmount school site on Crouch Hill was the lack of play space. Islington Council disregarded this and the school was built even though it did not meet the national standard. The children there have very limited opportunities to play outside and parents and Governors have both expressed concern about that. We must make sure that problem is not allowed to blight the new Whitehall Park School.
- Many people have expressed the view that the school should provide the opportunity for other community uses, particularly outside school hours. Several suggestions have been made (exercise groups, clubs, meeting room, adult education, etc). You may have your own ideas. There should be scope for the site to be used for that in an area which is short of public space.
- Removing part of the site from school use would be likely to create access and safety issues.
- There are a lot of protected trees on the site, some of them old and beautiful trees protected since before the current school building was built. The more densely the site is built upon the more of those trees will be lost.
- There are no plans for the new school, and no decision yet as to whether the old school will be demolished or not. In any event no decision as to taking part of the site for housing, or for anything else, should be made until those plans have been made.
- Selling off part of the land for housing will reduce the play space, and so have a potential impact on health of the children. It is a well known fact that obesity in young people is linked to lack of exercise, and if there is less space to run about, the likelihood of sedentary children increases. Not to mention mental health, as green spaces in urban areas have been proven to improve well being (read more on Exeter University’s website). Will there be space for a vegetable garden, football pitch, quiet wildflower area if part of the site is split off for housing?
You may think some of these are important, and others are not a concern for you. You may think other matters not mentioned here are more important.
We encourage you, whatever your views, to make them known in the consultation (here) by 21 January.
How people respond to this consultation will make a difference!
11/1/14 - Admissions Note From WPS
- Received from Whitehall Park School:
Apply directly to Whitehall Park School and gain an extra choice of primary school.
Closing date for applications – 15th January
We are aware that some parents have not yet heard of this new option of primary school for 2014, and will therefore not know that they are able to apply directly to Whitehall Park School in addition to the usual Local Authority process.
Are your friends aware that an application for Whitehall Park School is a risk-free choice for 2014? Don’t let them miss out!
Parents and carers who apply directly to Whitehall Park School, using the short form on our website at www.whitehallparkschool.co.uk/apply, will give themselves the chance of being offered two Reception places, one from Whitehall Park School and one through the Local Authority.
After primary allocation day (16th April 2014), when we will also be emailing all applicants and posting letters by first class post to inform them of our decision, there will be an opportunity to meet our outstanding Headmistress Designate, Laura Birkett, and find out more about our school. This event will take place before those who are offered places at Whitehall Park School and another school need to decide which place to accept.
Our latest newsletter, which can be viewed at http://createsend.com/t/y-509112C95EEE4F34, contains more information on applying for a 2014 Reception place. You can also read about Laura and find out how to apply for a role on the school’s governing body. Please forward the link to a friend!
You can sign up to receive our e-newsletter on the Register page of the website at www.whitehallparkschool.co.uk. We are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whitehallparkschool and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WhitehallPkSch.
7/1/14 - Extended Consultation
- Forwarded by David Barry, from an email replying to his query to Thanos Morphitis, Director of Strategy and Commissioning, Islington Children’s Services:
The current position with the EFA is as set out on the Free School’s Website:“The Ashmount site has been selected as the preferred site and the Education Funding Agency are looking at ways to procure the site, including by way of negotiations with the Local Authority.”
Please note that there is a further consultation being undertaken:
Bellevue Place Education Trust (BPET) is entering into an additional period of consultation relating to the site of the proposed Whitehall Park School. The consultation period is open now and will run until 12 noon on Tuesday 21st January 2014.
Following discussions with the Department for Education and the Education Funding Agency, BPET is now able to name the preferred site of the school as the site of the former Ashmount Primary School at Ashmount Road, Islington N19 3BH.
The Trust welcomes any comments in respect of the plan to locate the proposed school on this site. To participate in the consultation, please email any comments to email@example.com. Specifically, we would like your answer to the following questions:
- Do you think the proposed Whitehall Park School should open on the site of the former Ashmount School at Ashmount Road, Islington N19 3BH
- Please explain your reasons for your answer to question 1
- Please give any further comments that you would like to be considered in our consultation
All comments must be received by 12 noon on 21st January 2014
18/12/13 - Meet The Head
Meet The HeadParents and carers will be able to meet Whitehall Park School’s Headmistress Designate on Wednesday 8th January, 7– 8.30pm at Hornsey Lane Estate Community Centre (see poster). For those unable to make it she will be hosting an informal Coffee Morning on Thursday 9th January. See the newsletter for more details.
18/12/13 Meet The Head
Meet The HeadParents and carers will be able to meet Whitehall Park School’s Headmistress Designate on Wednesday 8th January, 7– 8.30pm at Hornsey Lane Estate Community Centre (see poster). For those unable to make it she will be hosting an informal Coffee Morning on Thursday 9th January. See the newsletter for more details.
21/11/13 The Squatters Leave
- Yesterday, 20th November, the squatters left. Over 100 of them had moved in when the caretakers left the school in early October. The Islington Gazette reports that “Witnesses said men, women, children and even dogs were seen peacefully leaving the old Ashmount Primary School building in Hornsey Lane, under the supervision of the police and Islington Council.” The squatters have until Wednesday November 27th to return two at a time to the building to retrieve any belongings that have been left behind. The Gazette had previously reported that it had spoken to residents living close to the building who had “expressed anger” at the squatters’ use of free electricity. The empty building is now being guarded by security personnel employed by the council.
15/11/13 from ASAG - The London School Atlas
- Greater London Authority: The London Schools Atlas
Proof that Haringey is taking the Islington overflow...
You may have heard of the London Schools Atlas which the GLA has published to help understand where the shortfalls are in primary and secondary school places in London. ASAG has analysed this in relation to the need for places in this part northerly part of Islington (see here - 300Kb) and found that Hillrise ward has two children seeking places for each place in the only Hillrise ward school. Children have to go to Haringey schools - Haringey educates 200 more Islington children than Islington does Haringey’s, partly as a result of this shortfall of places locally.
The conclusion is clear. Owing to increasing demand, Islington already needs a 2-form entry school in the north or north-east of the borough and the Ashmount site is the only place with sufficient capacity.
- ASAG - Ashmount Site Action Group was formed to save the site of the old Ashmount School for educational use.
- ASAG believes that schools are quite as important as houses.
- ASAG campaigns with great support locally - a petition of 1,121 was easily gathered and presented to LBI.
- ASAG has campaigned for a free access, comprehensive state-funded school.
- ASAG supports the free school option since no other option is open.
- ASAG campaign is described in detail here.
Note about detailed information on the school place shortage in North Islington
The Council has consistently maintained that there is no need for a school in north Islington or in the neighbouring part of Haringey and, were there to be a shortage of places, existing schools could readily be expanded to meet demand. On 17 June 2013 an independent planning inspector’s report endorsed the Council’s position. Executive members of the Council have claimed this on the record. However...
ASAG’s researches tell a different story and support the DfE’s decision to approve the free school opening on the Ashmount site. See here - 9.8Mb
Unlike the surrounding councils, which publish a comprehensive annual school places planning report, Islington publishes no detailed information for the general public. Indeed, they recently blocked access to the one document that was available by search. Information requested under Freedom of Information (such as a breakdown of a published table) has sometimes been unavailable. Figures supplied under FOI after more than one request have in more than one case conflicted with data published elsewhere.
In this context, we have had to come to some conclusions indirectly, by combining information from a number of sources, rather than by having the data we need – and that undoubtedly exists – in front of us.
But the conclusion is clear. Owing to increasing demand, Islington needs a 2-form entry school in the north or north-east of the borough and the Ashmount site is the only place with sufficient capacity.
15/11/13 from ASAG - Message from Whitehall Park School
- Message from Whitehall Park School
Dear ASAG Supporter,
Thank you on behalf of the Trustees of Whitehall Park School for all the support you have shown for the plans for our school thus far.
As you will know, we are planning to open in Islington next September with two Reception classes of 28 pupils. The school will be run on a not-for-profit basis by Bellevue Place Education Trust.
First Open Event next Thursday
Our Open Events for children starting school next September will take place at Hornsey Lane Estate Community Centre, Hazellville Road, London N19 3YJ on:
Thursday 21st November, 7.00pm – 8.30pm
Thursday 5th December, 7.00pm – 8.30pm
(Presentation at 7.30pm on both days.)
We would be grateful if you could confirm your attendance to help us plan each session. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on 0845 459 0113 stating: *your name *contact number *the number of people in your party *the session you wish to attend.
Thank you to all of those who have already confirmed their attendance. We look forward to meeting many of you at our first Open Event next Thursday!
Join us on Facebook
If you do not have children starting school next year but simply wish to support our school, we would be delighted if you would join us on Facebook. Please Like our page at www.facebook.com/whitehallparkschool.
To receive information about future events and be kept up-to-date with the school’s progress, you can also sign up to receive our e-newsletter on the Register page of our website at www.whitehallparkschool.co.uk.
We look forward to keeping you updated with our progress.
The Whitehall Park School Team
84 Whitehall Park
London, N19 3TN
1/11/13 from ASAG - Admission Process Begins
WHITEHALL PARK SCHOOL STARTS ADMISSIONS PROCESS
Today, November 1, the admission process for the reception classes for September, 2014, and those interested in reception classes for 2015, has been opened for the Whitehall Park School, the primary school that is badly needed in this community. Ms Sam Habgood BA, PGCE, will be Founding Head Teacher until the permanent Head Teacher is announced.
A leaflet about Whitehall Park School open days and application process can be seen here (1.1MB).
After five years of campaigning to keep the Ashmount Site in educational use, a happy outcome seems in sight. The local community continues to be firmly supportive of keeping the site as their local primary and an integral part of this community, in spite of recent efforts of the Anti Academies Alliance, under the misleading name of ‘Support Our Local Schools’, to claim to speak for this community. This group, in spite of its name, supports London Borough of Islington (LBI) in their attempt to sell off the site for housing development.
Our community last year presented a petition of 1,121 signatures of local residents to LBI to keep Ashmount in education. They clearly foresaw that this area would descend into a primary school ‘black-hole’ with the removal of the local school to Crouch Hill. This has been shown by many local parents’ reporting difficulties in placing their children. Parents know there will be more than enough school children for this and other schools.
Yet at the end of 2012 LBI asked the Department of Education to agree that Ashmount ‘was surplus to educational needs’ so they could sell it off for a housing development. It was obvious from projected ‘baby boom’ figures that it remains badly needed. With LBI abrogating its responsibilities, the only alternative is a Primary Free School, which will be not-for-profit, run by a charity, and with open access and non-denominational.
24/10/13 from PC Mick Murray, Hillrise SNT
- 24/10/13 from an email to WHPARA from PC Mick Murray
Squatters in Empty Ashmount School Site
I have just been in communication with the council re squatters at the above. It seems as though there are about 100 persons living on the site. The council office served official notice to quit today, telling them to leave by next Wednesday. The squatters seem organised and are unlikely to leave, therefore a legal process will have to be gone through which could take some months.
I have looked at the crime figures for the Whitehall Park area and I cannot see any marked change in the usual patterns. The area was suffering from a spate of thefts from motor vehicles and there have been a further 3 last week but likely this is not linked to the squatters.
PC 547NI Mick Murray
Hillrise Safer Neighbourhood Team
24/10/13 from ASAG - Time Bomb
- Time Bomb
Some Islington officials and some local authority schools dislike the idea of a school on the Ashmount site, despite clear and objective proof that it is needed to meet the demographic time bomb we all know about - acknowledged by leaders of all parties at the national level, but dogmatically denied locally.
There are some who have spread misinformation that ill serves local parents – such as “the site is to be transferred without charge to private ownership” (it won’t), or “from 2014 there will be an additional 58 places at reception in this area” (which is misleading).
The truth of the situation on the other hand can be found in a large, exhaustively researched document on the ASAG web site here (this is a necessarily large file of 9.5Mb).
The facts are important. Bland generalisations won't do.
Act now to retain the school
If you want to retain a much needed school on the Ashmount site, and have not responded to the consultation launched by Bellevue-Place Education Trust then now is the time to act. The anti-school lobby have urged parents and others to register hostile attitudes, and so some balance is needed. This option is the only way to preserve the site for education. Every adult in the area should make their submission to the consultation. We know how popular the new school will be – because ASAG easily gathered a 1,121 name petition, but London Borough of Islington waved this aside as irrelevant.
The Consultation deadline is Monday 28th October.
Respond on-line here.
Key facts about the new school
1. Whitehall Park School will be not-for-profit charity. It will be non-denominational and non-selective, unlike the 15 faith primary schools in the Borough, that LBI apparently have no complaint about.
2. All Free Schools are run by what is known as an Academy Trust. An Academy Trust is a private Company limited by guarantee. All Academy Trusts are exempt charities which mean that they have Charitable status but are not registered with or regulated by the Charities Commission and do not therefore have a Charity number. Academy Trusts are regulated by the Education Funding Agency.
3. An Academy Trust may become the owner of a Freehold site from which they are to occupy and run the Free School. This freehold land will be protected by what is known as a legal charge in favour of the Secretary of State for Education. Under the Funding Agreement, the Academy Trust promises to enter this restriction on to the freehold title. This means that a Free School could not sell the land without the Secretary of State's consent. There are further restrictions within the Funding Agreement that prevent an Academy Trust from disposing of Assets which include the land.
This arrangement is exactly analogous to how Faith Schools are set up – (according to the LBI web site), “School buildings are usually owned by a charitable foundation and/or religious organisation”.
2/10/13 from David Barry
2/10/13 from David Barry
Final Primary School Admissions results for Autumn 2013
I have just returned from holiday, and now have the final figures, some weeks old, for school admissions in the Whitehall Park Area. This is not a projection, it is the actual outcome.
There are no children in the Whitehall Park area without a school place. There are five vacant reception class places at Hargrave Park. There are a further 22 vacant reception places in the North of the Borough (there are 53 vacant places in the South of the Borough). All late applicants in Islington also have places except the last three recently received, who have not yet been allocated a place, but they are not in the Whitehall park area anyway.
It is instructive to review this information, the actual admissions outcome this year, together with the two earlier statements by ASAG in which they made their own predictions of the admissions outcome. They never explained what their predictions were based on.
The full text is available below on this website, here are the relevant quotes.
ASAG 22 July 2013
“...there is already, this September, a shortage of places in the reception year in this school area.”
ASAG 2nd May 2013
“Reception classes in September 2013
It seems that there are likely to be more than enough children to fill a class if Ashmount School were to reopen as a free school this year, and probably enough for 2 classes. At present we understand that if enough parents express firm interest in a 2013 class, PLACE, one of the bidders to open a free school on the site in 2014, may be able to provide one.”
On the whole, not a completely accurate forecast by ASAG it seems.
20/10/12 from ASAG
- Received from ASAG, 20/10/12
To all supporters of THE ASHMOUNT SITE ACTION GROUP (ASAG)
The London Borough of Islington have now sent to the Department of Education their application (S77) seeking approval for a change of use of the Ashmount Site from educational use to housing.
This is the next step for LBI in its attempts to sell off this site to developers for the creation of a housing estate.
The Department of Education is now considering this application. This process could take some time.
We are optimistic, in the light of the current educational site needs expound by the Secretary of State for Education and, indeed, recently echoed by the Mayor of London, that the DoE will not treat this application in a favourable light and will reject it.
In spite of the fact LBI did not advertise to educational bodies that the site and school buildings would become vacant, and, indeed, were negative in dealing with inquiries from those bodies who discovered this, we know there are now four interested bodies that have been in contact with the DoE.
However, the process of consideration is now ongoing. Now is the time for anyone who has not sent in their views to Rt. Hon. Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, to do so. Many of you might wish to resend simply reiterating your views. Supporters of retaining the Ashmount site for education need to remind the Department of the overwhelming local support – some 1,200 local residents signed a petition - to retain Ashmount for education. That petition, rejected by LBI, has now been forwarded to the DoE. But individual letters also help.
We are now into the final stage of local community endeavour to keep Ashmount for education. Thank you for support.
Please write now to Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP. Secretary of State for Education, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
You may also e-mail him on: email@example.com.