Letter: Abacus Belsize Primary School's new home?

Haverstock School

Haverstock School - could it also be home to Abacus Belsize Primary? - Credit: Archant

Delighted with new school home plan

Harriet Nowell-Smith, chair of governors, on behalf of the local governing body of Abacus Belsize Primary School, writes:

Thank you for covering the good news that Abacus Belsize Primary School may have a permanent home adjacent to Haverstock School.

The governors are delighted. The site is on the edge of the catchment area and has many advantages. Although the details are still to be finalised, we anticipate a completely separate entrance via Prince of Wales Road, which would keep Abacus pupils well away from older children and help to retain our autonomy, identity and culture as a school community.  

Our eight years of experience in adapting buildings makes us confident we can recreate our very special primary school in a new permanent home. This site has more space for dedicated outdoor play and learning than we have had before. While the former police station would have worked, it is a far easier adaptation to create space within a modern building that is already purpose-built for educational uses.

The old Hampstead Police Station, now up for sale

The old Hampstead Police Station, now up for sale - Credit: André Langlois

A permanent local home will now give us opportunities to support Abacus families in ways that have been impossible in our current temporary location. We are keen to offer more sports and clubs that can provide enriched experiences for children and support working families before and after the school day. The new location for Abacus will support Haverstock financially and help its long term sustainability as a school, which seems like a very good use of public funds. Collaboration between the headteachers has got off to a very good start and we know that Vicki Briody has received a warm welcome from James Hadley.  We look forward to working with him, and his governing body, as we get into detailed discussions. 

Abacus pupils, parents, and teachers have patiently coped with uncertainty and adversity for many years to get a good education. Bussing was challenging even before Covid restrictions over the past year. Timing a regular service in busy urban traffic is almost impossible, so parents and children have spent too much time waiting outside in nasty weather. The remote site takes a real toll on school life and it has been harder for families to meet and to participate in the school community. All this should soon be in the past. We think the late Leila Roy, who was a key supporter of Abacus, would have been very pleased by this development. She would have loved the synergy between schools and the pragmatic use of public space. We shall remember her as we work towards making the move a success.  

Last, we would like to thank the civil servants and elected representatives at Camden Council and in the Department of Education who have supported this project behind the scenes, working diligently to further the public interest and provide state education.