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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 17 July 2008
Drop academy plan now and look south to new site

Open letter to Councillor Andrew Mennear, Executive Member for Schools

YOU must have been as delighted as everyone else to hear at the public meeting on Thursday convened by Frank Dobson MP that Camden Council after all owns a site south of the Euston Road suitable for a secondary school.
I am referring of course to 21 Wren Street, a vacant light industrial site currently offered for letting by the council.
Even better news is that the adjoining site on the same block, which doubles the size of the whole site, the Pakenham Street business units on short leases to 2012, is also owned by the council. This is off Gray’s Inn Road, south of Eastman dental hospital, adjacent to St Andrew’s Gardens and several University College London houses of residence.
I am writing to call on you now, as I said on Thursday, to mothball the proposals to build an academy at Swiss Cottage. Simply postpone all consideration of that intention and evaluate Wren Street instead.
Frank Dobson has it writing from Ed Balls that there is no time constraint on Building Schools for the Future, and you yourself have refuted any suggestion that the council needed to have the academy under construction by the time of the next local election. Take time to do this properly with genuine consultation.
At public meeting after public meeting over the last 18 months we have heard you and the officers say that if only Camden owned a site south of the Euston Road, the academy/ new secondary school could be sited there where it is needed to educate 10 per cent of Camden’s children, who are currently scattered to the four winds when it comes to their secondary education.
UCL representatives said at the same meetings that it was Camden who decided the location.
Now we can do just that! Furthermore, locating the new school at Wren Street will have massive benefits beyond redressing the absence of a secondary school where it is needed for Camden families, benefits for the whole of education in Camden, currently reeling with damaging consequences stemming from the proposed siting of the secondary school in Swiss Cottage.
l Frank Barnes School could stay where it is and be rebuilt for the future to provide teaching in British Sign Language for deaf children in London whose families make this choice.
l South Camden Community School would not have to add another two forms of entry onto its already crowded site, smaller than when it had 750 students, expected to accommodate double that number with outside space gone to the UCL sports centre.
l Edith Neville school need not have its plans for rebuilding disrupted by enforced co-location, allowing Somers Town children to benefit from improved facilities as intended
This will enable all the schools in Camden to get on with the business of teaching our children in peace without the need to campaign further on these issues. There is now no reason to continue planning an academy at Swiss Cottage, or to move Frank Barnes at all, or to increase the size of South Camden Community School.
This is the first time we have had money to build a new secondary in Camden in our lifetimes and now we can build it in the right area, south of the Euston Road at Wren Street. The main next issue to get right is a fair secondary admissions system that everyone understands.
Governor, teacher and parent

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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