Beware UCL's interest in new school for Swiss Cottage
Last week there were reports of growing suspicion that a city academy plan is being hatched with UCL as sponsor, yet there has been no public discussion about such a school. With Camden s own consultation meetings already at an end and a decision expected
Last week there were reports of growing suspicion that a city academy plan is being hatched with UCL as sponsor, yet there has been no public discussion about such a school. With Camden's own consultation meetings already at an end and a decision expected about the new school next month, the time for this discussion is long overdue.
The decision about any new secondary school in Camden must be about securing excellence for generations to come. We note that the existing provost of UCL has expressed an interest in sponsoring an academy, but what will happen if he moves to another job? If UCL was to sponsor the school, UCL lecturers would need to offer support and active involvement for the sponsorship to make a tangible difference to pupils. How do they feel about this? Who would fund their involvement?
We hope that UCL does have a real interest in secondary level education in Camden. But this would be more valuable if deployed throughout all Camden secondary schools in terms of raising aspiration for higher education. Is it fair for any university to 'favour' one school?
Before Camden makes its decision this debate must be opened up to include discussion about UCL's financial interests, the long-term future of a partnership such as this one, and whether this really would be the best solution for teaching and learning in Camden. Until these questions are addressed publicly, the case for a UCL sponsored school remains unproven.
The answers to many of these questions would be publicly aired in the course of a fair competition in which UCL's record in secondary education and proposals could be judged against other bidders such as a CofE school and the local authority.
Fiona Millar, Vice Chairwoman, Campaign for State Education. Penny Roberts, Chairwoman, campaign for a Church Secondary School for Camden