School controversy: Open competition is the only fair option
AS both a student and an elected representative of young people in Camden, I have been concerned that hardly any of my peers are even aware of the prospect of a new school in Camden. When I attended a general meeting hosted by Cllr Andrew Mennear, our Tor
AS both a student and an elected representative of young people in Camden, I have been concerned that hardly any of my peers are even aware of the prospect of a new school in Camden.
When I attended a general meeting hosted by Cllr Andrew Mennear, our Tory education chief, I was astonished to realise that we as young people weren't alone in this. From parents, to governors, teachers and headteachers - the message was the same: you've left us out of the loop.
With regard to the type of school - why would we be better off with an academy? Camden's community schools are working. None of them is failing. We are, of course, one of only six four-star education authorities in the country. Why opt for a different tack?
I believe the only feasible option is for an open competition administered by the schools adjudicator, in which Camden enters a bid for a community school. With all the options on the table, the final decision would rest on which proposal could provide the best education for our children. UCL's interests must come second to those of Camden's children - and that is why we should not limit our options.
Another argument commonly mounted against holding a competition is the delays it might cause. But Building Schools for the Future is a landmark project. The end result will be with us for a very long time. If we rush into a proposal, having allowed little time for consultation and evaluating the options, we could jeopardise its success.
A competition would allow ample time for consultation of all sections of society. And with more time, we will more likely opt for a solution that will best benefit the future generations of young people in our borough.
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UK Youth Parliament Rep for Camden
Bramshill Gardens, NW5
Next Wednesday Camden Council will make a decision about whether to opt for a preferred sponsor for the new school planned for Swiss Cottage or to go for an open competition with wider public consultation and opportunities for representation from other groups.
The Campaign for a Church Secondary School in Camden has been very effective in mobilising opinion and in presenting to the council a petition with nearly 1,900 signatures calling for a C of E secondary school.
Support has come from both within the church and from people of other faiths and none who understand the expertise and commitment to inclusion that the church brings to all its schools.
We call on the council to set up a competition as to who should sponsor a new school (as is now encouraged by the DfES) so that the merits of each bid and the strength of public support can be fully debated in public and not behind closed doors and in what would formerly be 'smoke filled rooms.'
Fr Andrew Cain
Area Dean of North Camden Mary Shakeshaft