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Mother takes campaign for new non-religious mixed school to council

12:41 20 September 2011

Sarah Cohen and Avis Johns take their campaign for a new school to Hendon Town Hall. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Sarah Cohen and Avis Johns take their campaign for a new school to Hendon Town Hall. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

A mother campaigning for a co-ed secular secondary school for children in Hampstead Garden Suburb, Golders Green and East Finchley has delivered the community’s demands to Barnet Council.

Mother-of-two Avis Johns set out the parents’ agenda asking for schools to accommodate swathes of children forced to travel up to an hour and a half away to attend a mixed, non-religious school.

Nearby schools include a Catholic school, an all-boys school and an all-girls grammar school.

The 41-year-old addressed a special committee on Monday, September 12, set up to deal with the borough-wide problem, backed by her MP, local councillors and hundreds of parents.

Education boss Cllr Andrew Harper said: “It’s a good idea to have evidence from council officers and parents, all with a view to assisting us in determining the scale of the problem and what we should be doing about it.”

Mrs Johns is a member of campaign group Local Schools For Local Children, but is personally campaigning for her nine-year-old daughter, who she would like to send to a mixed, non-religious school in the local area.

She also predicts an “exponential growth” in the number of families and children in the south of the borough creating increased demand for new school places.

“This situation actually tears families apart,” she said. “Parents go through this terrible anguish because of the pressure that children are put under. Why is there no local solution?

“They’ve no idea behind closed doors how unsettling it is, it’s the only thing that wakes me up in the middle of the night with nightmares about where my daughter will go to school.”

She said that parents are having to resort to home tutoring and others relocate to get their children into the right schools.

Mrs Johns, of Heath View in East Finchley, claims some local schools struggle to reach capacity and considered making teachers redundant at the beginning of the year.

But she admitted that the group of parents behind the campaign are not equipped to start their own free school, with no land and no expertise to hand.

“Local schools need to change to accommodate the community rather than us starting another school,” she said. “I’m not a teacher and I think it’s wrong for me to open a free school when we’ve got schools here.

“We need to work with them and we would love to be part of the solution.”

11 comments

  • I also support this campaign. I also live in East Finchley and am also very concerned about where my 9 year old daughter will go to secondary school. It is so frustrating to have a number of state funded schools on our doorstep which are not an option for us due to faith or gender particularly as some of these schools are undersubscribed. We long for a non faith mixed gender decent school within a reasonable travelling distance. It is not just stressful for parents but for the children too.

    Report this comment

    Julie Turner

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

  • It is not just East Finchley but NW11 too... no real options are open to us due to a plethora of faith schools which are not an option, it leaves us on the margins. We love our childrens' primary school- local, co-ed, non denominational, non selective. Why can't there be local secondaries like this?

    Report this comment

    Michela Staab

    Monday, September 26, 2011

  • I live in east finchley and have 3 young children and i'd like there to be a local community comprehensive to send them to. the campaign is bringing the concerns of local parents to the attention of our elected councillors and i hope they will respond positively to our aspirations.

    Report this comment

    Toby Blume

    Monday, September 26, 2011

  • I also live in East Finchley and have serious concerns over the lack of adequate secondary school provision for our children, a daughter aged 7 and a son aged 5 in our area. The schools are either Selective, Boys only or Catholic. Seeing as my daughter is neither catholic or a boy we are becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of provision for her. A simple wish is that my daughter will be able to walk to a school in her area which is co-educational and of no faith.

    Report this comment

    Cathy du Vergier

    Monday, September 26, 2011

  • I live within spitting distance of 2 secondary schools, Bishop Douglas and Christ College. Neither of which is an option for my kids (1 boy, 2 girls, not catholic!). There aren't any other local options available to us. Doesn't seem right does it?

    Report this comment

    Antony Jackson

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

  • I also live in East Finchley and have serious concerns over the lack of adequate secondary school provision for our children, a daughter aged 7 and a son aged 5 in our area. The schools are either Selective, Boys only or Catholic. Seeing as my daughter is neither catholic or a boy we are becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of provision for her. A simple wish is that my daughter will be able to walk to a school in her area which is co-educational and of no faith.

    Report this comment

    Cathy du Vergier

    Monday, September 26, 2011

  • I fully support this campaign. I have a boy in year 6 and girls in year 2 and reception. I wanted my children to all attend the same local, mixed sex, non religious secondary school. My son will probably end up at the local boys school - a good school. But where does that leave my girls?

    Report this comment

    Sally Llewelyn-Jones

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

  • As a mother of two nine year old girls living in East Finchley I share the worries of this mother. I hope that the council scrutiny committee will consider this issue carefully and put a plan into place as soon as possible.

    Report this comment

    Lucy Butterworth

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

  • This campaign is vital to resolve the 'black hole' of schooling in East Finchley. I would like my three children to go to the same mixed, non-denom school. At the moment our only option would be to leave the area. We love the East Finchley community and leaving would be a desparate last option. We need to see the right funding put to schools that can meet this need, and then as a parental community we can throw the weight of our support behind these schools to ensure their continued success.

    Report this comment

    Sarah Pearce

    Monday, September 26, 2011

  • I fully the support local mothers campaigning for suitable local school provision. We live in East Finchley and with a 9 year old daughter are increasingly worried that there are no adequate school places. Given that Barnet generally has excellent schools it is infuriating that we have no acceptable choices. I hope that the council will treat this issue with the urgency that it deserves.

    Report this comment

    Tony Manzi

    Friday, September 23, 2011

  • I also live in East Finchley, and support this campaign. My son attends Christ's College School, with which we are very pleased, but as it is boys only his younger sister cannot follow him there. Bishop Douglass is not academically good enough to be an option even if we were Catholic which we're not. Something needs to change!

    Report this comment

    Cath Bourne

    Monday, September 26, 2011

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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