** NW6 primary school campaign update **
Last night Camden’s Cabinet agreed to proceed with plans to address the excessive demand for primary school places in NW6 which has been the focus of campaign by Labour councillors and activists for a number of months.
This represents a real victory for the campaign and for local parents.
I and my ward colleagues Maryam and Thomas presented a petition to the Cabinet last night containing more than 450 names underlining the demand for primary places and the need for a new school west of the Finchley Road.
Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the figures and this campaign. As of last night, I was told that there still 32 Camden children without a school place; 31 lived west of the Finchley Road.
The plan is to expand the Outstanding Ofsted-rated Kingsgate community primary school in Kilburn (currently a two-form entry school) to create a further two forms of entry on a site in Liddell Road, West Hampstead. Eventually this will create 420 much-needed new school places in NW6.
This may seem like an unusual appraoch, but new legislation passed by the Tory-Lib Dem government has made it impossible for councils to build their own community schools. The only new schools can be academies (which require an external sponsor) or free schools (which are set up outside the state system).
There’s still many issues which need resolving – I met owners of one of the businesses currently on the Liddell Road site at the meeting last night; clearly they’re concerned about their future and we have to, as a council, do what we can to support them. There’s going to be plenty of consultation ahead, for businesses and other local people to have their say about the plans.
I know some concerns have been raised about the distance between Kingsgate and Liddell Road. But when I spoke to the excellent head of the school, Liz Hayward, on Monday, she didn’t raise it as a concern. I think the school is excited about spreading what makes it outstanding; and feel a responsibility as a community school to help out local families.
So many thanks to them, and to eeveryone who has signed our petition, tweeted about our campaign and generally supported the cause. Together, we’ve helped ensure that the north-west of the borough gets the attention it needs from the Town Hall to address an issue which affects the lives of hundreds of families in NW6.