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Save Lewisham Bridge Defend education
Save Lewisham Bridge primary school protest, photo Lewisham Socialist Party
LEWISHAM BRIDGE primary school is under threat of demolition. It is the latest in a series of school reorganisations that Lewisham's Labour council has been trying to push through - despite the local community's opposition.
But we've had enough of being ignored. Parents and campaigners started a rooftop protest at the school at the beginning of term, and have been there ever since. Now, with teachers' support, a protest march is being organised through Lewisham to keep up the pressure on councillors.
Parents are angry. The council has already started bussing children to a temporary school site, even though their proposals haven't yet got planning permission. The school is under threat because the council wants to replace it with a school for children from the age of 3 up to 16.
There is little convincing research to show that such an 'all-age' school would work, especially when squeezed into a site presently occupied by a primary school with just half the proposed pupil numbers. It would leave play areas and room sizes below government recommendations.
The council say their 'all-age' plan is needed to create more secondary places, but the council's own figures predict an imminent shortage of hundreds of primary school places in the borough. Planned housing developments around Lewisham Bridge will make matters even worse.
Why won't the council admit they've got it wrong? Perhaps because the reorganisation is also part of its wider plans to replace local authority comprehensive schooling with unaccountable trusts and academies.
The planned 'all-age' school would be a 'foundation' school that can set its own admissions policy. Staff would be employed by the governors, not the local authority. It would probably become part of a 'Trust' federation sponsored by the Leathersellers Company that backs the Prendergast federation of schools. The council have already handed two schools over but parents and staff are determined to defend education.
Make sure the council listens. Assemble opposite the school in Elmira Street SE13 at midday on Saturday 9 May. Rally at the Clock Tower, Lewisham High Street, from 12.30pm.
Dave Heeps, a parent of a Year 6 pupil, spoke from the rooftop occupation:
"We've been telling the council for years that their plans don't add up. Council officers tried to convince us that they could cut primary places because couples moving into the new flats wouldn't have children! We asked them whether they were going to hand out condoms with the rent books!
"Staff are doing an amazing job to try and support children but my daughter is already exhausted getting up early for the buses and coming home late. Meanwhile, a perfectly good primary school is standing empty.
"As the days go by, more parents, like me, have been joining the occupation. We've had a phenomenal response. Passing cars are always tooting their horns and local people come by to chat."
In The Socialist 6 May 2009:
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