Why Swiss Cottage is best site for new £20m school

Frank Dobson asserts that Camden s £200million plans for a new secondary school at Adelaide Road, a two-form-of-entry expansion of South Camden Community School, a complete reprovision of our secondary-age special school provision, a modernisation of our

Frank Dobson asserts that Camden's £200million plans for a new secondary school at Adelaide Road, a two-form-of-entry expansion of South Camden Community School, a complete reprovision of our secondary-age special school provision, a modernisation of our pupil referral units and an extensive building works at virtually every secondary school are "simply not ambitious enough"! (New school plan 'just not good enough' H&H March 8).

Our plans are anything but unambitious. The partnership administration could have chosen the easy route followed by the out-going administration - a moderate expansion of our existing secondaries in line with Government forecasts on pupil numbers.

Instead we were determined to address the historic imbalance in the location of our secondaries and the local demand for school places.

Mr Dobson's criticism seemed to be based on the lack of a new secondary school south of Euston Road. Contrary to popular belief, we did not start with a preference for a new secondary in the north west ahead of the south - just with the strong belief that there are not enough school places in Camden and that addressing this would require at least one new secondary school rather than simply expanding existing schools.


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We assessed possible locations on the basis of size, affordability and availability. The Adelaide Road site was the only one which met all three criteria. Happily, it is also located in an area with a high demand for new secondary places.

Glenda Jackson MP spoke at the same event and reported that her surgeries are ''full of parents unable to get their children into schools'' and ''welcomed the choice of Swiss Cottage'' for a new secondary.

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If we look at Camden students as yet unplaced with regards to secondary school entry in September, 50 come from the north west area, which includes Kilburn and Hampstead Town wards, 41 from Swiss Cottage and Belsize wards and 34 from Regent's Park and St Pancras & Somers Town wards.

There are currently just 12 unplaced students from the wards south of Euston Road.

The BSF bid is worth around £200million. There is no guarantee that it will still be available if we have to wait until additional sites become available, and we cannot afford to lose out again on the opportunity for substantial investment as the previous administration did in failing to secure Government money to invest in our housing stock.

Andrew Mennear

Executive member for schools, Camden Council

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