It’s been about 6months since the last proposals for the Forthbridge School site were voted down. There have been some recent developments:
- We recently chased Children’s Services and we were very disappointed to discover they have made no investigations whatsoever into the local access issue (despite the clear wording of the January amendment proposed by Cllr Jonathan Cook). They have stated this is because Belleville is definitely applying to become an Academy. [See our previous article].
- I also spoke with Cllr Cook last night. He is very excited about a new campaign for a free school in the area, but confirmed to me that this free school campaign will be looking for a completely new site i.e. it will definitely NOT be about the Forthbridge Rd site.He thus has not been chasing Children’s Services at all on the Forthbridge issue, but said last night told me he would.
- At least one set of parents has lodged another formal objection via the Office of the Schools Adjudicator to this year’s admission arrangements at the Forthbridge site, ahead of the 31st July deadline. An objection we made last year was not upheld.
- The building work on the Forthbridge site is on schedule and nearing completion and children will start attending in September. Bring on the traffic!
Where do things stand?
We have always been aware that Belleville was considering Academy status. If granted (and there’s little reason to think it won’t be) this status means the Governors of Belleville have full control over their own admission policy and the local authority i.e. Wandsworth Council has nothing to do with admissions at Belleville. Any admission arrangements still of course have to conform to the Admissions Code (changes to which are currently being consulted on by the Dept
Where from here?
If we do still want to campaign for at least some local access to the Forthbridge Rd site then we need to win over the staff, Governors and parents of Belleville itself. (I think this actually was always going to be where our campaign ended up) I sense there are many current parents at Belleville who sympathise with the inherent unfairness of not being able to attend a school on your doorstep.
It’s also clear to me that in the past consultations this very simple issue has
been rather muddled-up (mainly through the council’s involvement!) with more complicated issues of sibling admission and the lack of places for would-be parents living south of Honeywell school. Often it’s been would-be parents rather than current parents who have opposed discussions on any local admission to Forthbridge.
Furthermore Belleville is a clearly an excellent school which does understand the importance the links to it’s local community and so I really do feel there is an argument to be made there.
Personally though I am quite jaded by all this and we clearly need some new blood in the campaign if it is to take this new direction. Several people emailed back in January offering more help and support and I would encourage you to email again (using the contact box for example, or in comments below), if you are interested in taking the campaign forward.
If no one responds I guess we may be dead in the water.