Five good reasons to be suspicious of UCL bid for Swiss cottage school

Anne Rands (H&H letters, July 12) wonders why I am suspicious about council/UCL plans for a UCL-sponsored academy for Camden. First, because in the Ham&High on July 5, Cllr Mennear said that news of the UCL bid was kept secret because that was UCL s choic

Anne Rands (H&H letters, July 12) wonders why I am suspicious about council/UCL plans for a UCL-sponsored academy for Camden.

First, because in the Ham&High on July 5, Cllr Mennear said that news of the UCL bid was kept secret because that was UCL's choice. The Ham&High on July 12 has Professor Grant of UCL saying that there has been no secrecy in talks lasting two years.

Second, because after two years of talks, UCL only released a vision statement after all Camden's consultation meetings had ended.

Third, because UCL says it doesn't want a fair competition where its plans can be compared to those of the CoE and others. It insists that a competition 'will not bring profit to UCL'.


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Fourth, how can the council think it can provide the best new school if it only looks at one of the options?

And fifth, councillors seem concerned about the time it would take to run a competition. The government's timetable indicates that this would take about seven months (which includes six more weeks of public consultation once the bids are in). Claims that it would take a year or more are unfounded.

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I am led to believe that Partnership for Schools itself has told the council that a competition would not delay the programme. A competition announced on July 25 would be over before the Outline Business Case is due and well before detailed design work needs to begin.

Thanks for all the consultation meetings, Camden. Now it is time for you to act on what you have heard us saying. Please give fair consideration to the Church of England; 1,892 of us believe that this is the best option for Camden.

Penny Roberts

Chair, the campaign for a Church Secondary School for Camden

East Heath Road, NW3

Having read the numerous editorials and letters concerning a new secondary school for Camden, it becomes clear that the education committee responsible for this project seem to have already made up their minds.

Despite assurances of widespread consultations over many aspects of this proposed school, it seems that the committee is not listening.

The site seems to have already been decided upon, purely on the grounds that it is already designated as an educational site. The future of the schools already on the proposed Swiss Cottage site has not been made clear - with the one being subsumed into this vast new school and the other being built somewhere else.

The site itself is too small for the proposed number of students if they are to have sports and recreational facilities on site (the 30 schools already in this area use any sports grounds that may be available). Are these pupils to be transported miles away to ensure they have enough P.E. to prevent obesity, etc?

There is already a secondary school not 200 yards away (Quintin Kynaston), although it is in another borough. I thought everyone was entitled to apply.

The site is also positioned at an extremely busy junction located at the bottom of the Finchley Road where there have already been schoolchild fatalities. This new school will only add to congestion and the potential for accidents.

Research has also shown that these huge schools can leave pupils feeling anonymous and isolated, where they cannot get the emotional and psychological support they need from the teaching staff, as there are just too many students.

Perhaps the most important point is that numerous petitions signed by the parents of prospective pupils and other interested parties firmly state that they do not want their children travelling to Swiss Cottage - they want their children's school to be south of the Euston Road.

D Kelson

Swiss Cottage, NW3

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