Ashmole Primary School and the Campaign for a New School

I visited Ashmole Primary School today for a meeting on the permanent school building and it bought home to me the enormity of what has been achieved by dedicated members of the Ashmole team, my campaigner group and me!
 
Ashmole Primary School’s permanent building is a building site but by the end of this year it will be ready for children to move in.
 
When I started this campaign I never believed that I would be part of the team that founded a brand new school! The road I traveled to get to this point has been full of challenges, of highs and lows but perseverance, determination and a stubborn resolution to have a new school made me carry on. There is one real reward that I have from this campaign and that was the hug from a crying mum on the opening day of the school. Her tears were of happiness, telling me that I had changed her, and her family’s life! I will never forget that moment and as I write this I am moved again.
 
The campaign started in 2012 from my front room. A group of community minded parents and grandparents who lived in an area that didn’t fall into any primary school catchment area decided to campaign for increased primary school provision. We each paid £10 to produce 2000 leaflets to distribute in the area letting residents know of the problem with school places and to gain support.
 
That was the beginning of SWEAT, the South West Enfield Action Team. We worked hard using our website https://wewantlocalschools.wordpress.com/… to get our message out there. We lobbied the Council, we went to the local press, we met our MP, we spoke to Councillors, we tried everything to raise awareness. I hated the way that Labour Councillors treated our problem as part of their political game, they didn’t care about us, we were a community group that could be exploited. The Labour Cabinet Member for Education called me naive for thinking I could do anything about school places, in a public meeting after I had spoken so that I was unable to respond. Political point scoring! But I did it! Despite what the Labour Cabinet Member for Education thought.
 
I used my influence and position as a school governor at Ashmole Academy to pursue a dream that has resulted in the building site pictured. One of the biggest disappointments for the Ashmole team was when our first free school bid failed! I felt that I had let down all those parents who had become wrapped in my enthusiasm and we can do it attitude … we had failed! I was bitterly disappointed…. it wasn’t a failure, it was a setback! Once we got over the disappointment, the Ashmole team took on board the feedback from the Department for Education and we submitted another, much improved free school bid and we were successful! I was so happy, not for me as my children would not get into the school but for all those parents who could send their children to an outstanding local school.
 
I am delighted that some of my fellow campaigners have gone on to become school governors and trustees.
 
My message is that if you see an injustice and if you feel strongly enough about it, others will feel the same and follow you. You can do anything if you put your mind to it! Ignore the nay sayers!
To find out more about Ashmole, SWEAT and myself visit:
 

More Primary School Places

I was interviewed by Ruth McKee of the Enfield Advertiser about the new primary school that is to be opened in Southgate for September 2014.

Many parents of children starting school this year will not be aware of this development unless they have been following the We Want Local Schools campaign that I set up with a group of concerned parents; also known as SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team). Here is part of the article and the full article can be read here.

 

Friends of Grovelands Park

I am a member of the Friends of Grovelands Park and I attended a general meeting this week. This year was Grovelands Park centenary and hundreds of people attended the celebrations in the park to make it a marvellous success.

I am surprised that there aren’t more members of this group to support and maintain this historic park. If you want to become more involved with the park and the Friends of Grovelands Park, they are actively seeking more members. Annual membership is £5 and their website is here http://www.n21.net/friends-of-grovelands-park-winchmore-hill-n21-london.html. The next meeting is Thursday 21st November 2013, 8pm at St Paul’s Church Hall.

At the FoG meeting we heard about Travellers being evicted from Edmonton and actively looking for a new place to set up in the Enfield area. I had a traveller knock at my door and ask if I wanted anything sharpened the day before the meeting. Does anyone get anything sharpened on their doorstep by gypsies anymore? Or is it a tactic to check whether anyone is at home? I didn’t feel safe.

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I had to speak out at the FoG meeting about SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team) and our campaign. I clarified what we are trying to achieve and also what Enfield’s current proposals on the land adjacent to Grovelands are. The majority of FoG members have an open mind about the Grovelands proposals, I think that is because we are all waiting to see whether English Heritage says the concept is viable.

Some members, like me, have strong views, some in favour of a school and some against a school. If you support the school proposal please register your support on the SWEAT website  http://wewantlocalschools.wordpress.com/

Continue reading “Friends of Grovelands Park”

Enfield Primary School Expansion

The London Borough of Enfield has been consulting on how to provide more primary school places in the borough. The Council proposes to expand 10 existing schools to increase the number of children that can be taken into Reception classes and in some cases into Year 1.

In my area of Southgate and Palmers Green there are expansion proposals for Walker School and Broomfield School but there are no proposals for a new school. A new primary school could be situated in the old Southgate Town Hall which is empty.

I support the proposal for the expansion of Walker School which is rated a 1 by Ofsted and offers outstanding education. I attended the consultation meeting at Walker which was the forum to have my say. I live ½ mile from Walker School but will be unable to get my twins admitted due to over subscription. There are other issues with admissions to Walker where parents rent properties next to the school for a short period and then once their children are admitted move further away thus taking places that should rightfully belong to people who really reside in the immediate area, but that’s another story!

I do not support the proposal to expand Broomfield School. Broomfield School is rated a 4 by Ofsted and therefore has issues regarding the quality of education provided. It would mean changing the age of admission from 11-18 to 4-18. I would not want to send my child to a failing school so I cannot understand the thinking behind expanding this school. The effect of an expansion would be to force poor education onto more children in the community. Surely a new school in the area would be a better proposition. There is a separate consultation for Broomfield School.

The consultation period is over but if you wanted to comment or get involved then I think the Programme Director of the Primary School Expansion Programme, Bridget Evans could be a good starting point.

Primary School Admissions 2012

Congratulations to the London Borough of Enfield Education Authority on fulfilling its statutory duty in providing the necessary number of Primary School places for the borough.

I made a Freedom of Information request to the borough (The details of the questions and answers are below) which proves that they have made adequate Primary School provision. Does this mean that all Primary School parents whose children will start school in this coming school year are happy? The answer is a definite No.

There are 148 children who have not been offered a place. There are no new schools in my area and new schools in the east of the borough will not help our problems. There is a possibility of a bulge class at Walker but that sounds reactive and unreliable for the long term.

I think a change in law is required so that those resident within a certain radius of a school must be admitted which in turn would mean that class sizes could not be maintained at their legal maximum of 30 children. Smaller class sizes make for a better education.

FOI request and answers
Your FOI Request

1. How many primary school applications were received at Enfield for reception aged children on or before January 15th 2012?

2. How many late applications were received at Enfield after January 15th 2012 for reception aged children?

3. How many Enfield resident reception aged children have not been offered any school place for 2012, irrespective of when the application was received?

4. Will all Enfield Primary School reception classes be at their capacity and to the maximum number of children legally permitted ie. 30? If not identify which schools and the reasoning behind the class size.

5. How many places are available to reception aged children in Enfield schools for 2012? I have added up the places in the Primary School admissions booklet and have calculated a total of 4363 reception aged places. Please can you confirm whether that is correct and if not please provide the correct figure?

6. What was the GLA projection for reception aged pupils on roll for the academic year 2012/13 in Enfield? I understand that this figure would change on a yearly basis so if you could provide the figures for the previous 5 years I would be grateful? If resources do not permit this then the projection prior to October 2011 when this years admission process started.

Your FOI Request

1. 4498 applications were received from Enfield residents by 15th January 2012.

2. 108 late applications were received after the closing date of 15th January 2012 and allocation date of 18th April 2012. The total number of applications received after the closing date of 15th January to date (8th June12) is 340.

3. As at today, 148 children have not received an offer of a school place, irrespective of when the application was made.

4. Currently, all schools in Enfield with the exception of Eldon Infant school will be operating reception class sizes that meet the requirements of the infant class size legislation of 30 children. Eldon Infant School will be admitting 140 to their reception year group in September because of the physical size of their classrooms. In addition to Eldon, Enfield Heights Academy, a new free school opening in the east of the Borough, have published an admission number of 25 and have advised that they will be admitting this number in September.

5. 4,749 Reception places are being made available for 2012/13. This figure includes places at new free schools due to open in September and academies and in those one-off additional classes being provided to meet demand for the coming year. The level of demand for September 2012 is monitored very regularly and additional places will be opened if needed to ensure that there is a place for every child.

6. The latest GLA projection for 2012/13 made this year, i.e. 2011/12 is 4,563. For the previous 5 years, the projections were as follows

2010/11 – 4,467
2009/10 – 4,595
2008/09 – 4,247
2007/08 – 4,077
2006/07 – 4,105

Primary School Admissions 2012

Every year the local paper reports on distress that is experienced by parents living in Enfield when they cannot get their child into their school of preference. A petition has been started to try and address the problem in Southgate. The petition highlights a problem that happens every year in Enfield and I’m sure all over London. As parents we are led to believe that we have a preference of school but that is not in fact the case. I live 1/2 mile from Walker School but that distance will be too great for my twins Harry and Poppy to gain admission in 2015.

The petition will raise awareness and I am hopeful that changes will be made to address the shortfall in school places for Primary School children in Enfield. Some parents that I know have not been offered a place at any school for their child! I am in contact with a mother who has moved back into the area after being away for some months and neither of her children, who are Reception and Year 2 aged for 2012, have been offered a place.

The Education Authority receives projection figures from the Greater London Authority which provides them with the knowledge to plan for upto 10 years in advance. So why do we still have this shortfall in Primary School places?

It is obvious that the Education Authority’s long term strategy is not effective else they would be able to provide every Enfield child with a Primary School place. The problem may lay with maintaining classroom sizes at their legal limit of 30 students per 1 teacher. If the classroom sizes were smaller there would be more room for managing children moving into different school areas and we know that smaller class sizes provide children with a better education.

There needs to be a method to make the Education Authority’s duty achievable by ensuring they have a strategy which provides children with the school places we as parents demand. This will require financial support and therefore either Government or legal support to make it happen.

Police & Enfield Council Update 11/8/11

Please see attached a Community Update dated 11th August from the Metropolitan Police which FLDRA Fox Lane and District Residents’ Association have been encouraged to disseminate.

Metropolitan Police Community Update 11/8/11

Enfield Council Respect

Please see attached a Community Update from the Metropolitan Police which FLDRA Fox Lane and District Residents’ Association have been encouraged to disseminate.

Metropolitan Police Community Update 10/8/11

 

 

Unaffordable loans

Loans are being advertised on TV and the internet with a 4214% interest rate!

It is outrageous that companies are allowed to charge this amount in interest and outrageous that they are permitted to advertise on national television and the internet.

I saw an article in the Enfield Advertiser where a lady who was loaning vulnerable people money was arrested and sent to trial for running an illegal money lending service, she was charging interest rates of 10% no where near the rates that these legal money lenders charge.

The only people that will apply for these loans are those that are desperate or the, uneducated.

There are 2 issues that need to be addressed:

  1. the amount of interest that can be charged should have a limit or be capped
  2. legal loan sharks should not be allowed to advertise on national TV or on the internet

I can imagine that quick money could appeal to women with young families at home who will see these advertsas a way of getting them out of immediate financial problems; but will eventually lead them into misery trying to repay these ridiculously high repayments.

I will now look into the financial rules and try to get this debated. Watch this space!

Bush Hill Park By-Election

29 July 2011

Congratulations to Lee Chamberlain and to the Conservatives on winning the Bush Hill Park by-election in Enfield.

28 July 2011

Bush Hill Park are going to the polls today. The by-election has been caused by the resignation of the Conservative councillor in the Bush Hill Park ward in Enfield.

I have been out canvassing with the Conservative candidate Lee Chamberlain. The weather has been lovely so fingers crossed for a good turn out. Good luck Lee.

 

Midwife Mayhem

What is happening with maternity care? Everyday we read about the possibility of Chase Farm Hospital closing and now this Midwife Mayhem story appears in the local paper.

I gave birth to my twins Poppy and Harry in Chase Farm Hospital on April 17th this year and can tell you that a midwife’s lot does not appear to be a happy one.

What I noticed from my first hand experience in hospital was that midwives are working an exhausting 12 hour shift. They have to be extremely flexible and have great endurance. For example the midwife that helped me through labour came on shift at 7.30pm expecting to be on the general ward looking after 30+ pregnant women (a feat in itself) and ended up supporting me through labour up to 4am without a break! I’m sure the EU would have something to say about that.

There is a lack of stability and every day is different.  Other Labour wards such as Barnet could be closed for a night creating more work in Chase Farm (this is a common occurrence) or indeed Chase Farm Labour unit could close and make for a quieter day for the midwives.

Imagine being 9 months pregnant and going into labour. You phone Chase Farm Labour Ward and they tell you that they are closed. How scary is that? You have received all your ante natal treatment there and are then told to contact another labour ward in another hospital such as Barnet or North Middlesex hospitals but there are no guarantees that they will be open either.

I only managed to have my babies after waiting 3 days to be induced because Chase Farm’s Labour Ward was closed to new admissions on that Saturday night.

Sickness levels appeared to be high causing strain on the staff who are working, this clearly affects staff morale. All the uncertainty that surrounds our local hospital and the care that they provide is affecting morale which in itself contributes to staff being sick.

I received fantastic ante natal, labour and post natal care in Chase Farm Hospital despite the apparently terrible organisation of the care trust and this is due to the committed staff.

I want clarity from our politicians in simple terms so we understand what is being proposed. It is a hot potato that our back bencher MPs are not leading on.

Car crash

Sadly a car crash but happily no one hurt!

We had just sat down to dinner when a Policeman came knocking on our door to let us know that the sporty 2010 Fiat 500 that we bought for my daughter’s 18th birthday had been involved in an accident. A man had been arrested for drunk driving which leaves us with a broken car, a devastated daughter and no quick repair as the driver had no insurance.

I’ve emailed the Fox Lane and District Residents’ Association so we can discuss traffic calming at the next meeting.

The Birth of Our Twins

After 9 hours of labour I gave birth to our twins!

A wonderful experience and a roller coaster of emotion, pain, adrenalin, self control, lack of control and much more.

My labour was induced and I had booked into Chase Farm Hospital on Thursday 14th April. I was still waiting to be induced 2 days later and resigned myself to spending another uneventful day on the hospital ward. I dressed and went for a few walks around the hospital grounds hoping that gravity would help nature take its course and bring on labour…. to no avail.

Being in hospital meant that my babies hearts were monitored at regular intervals; today the babies heart rates were higher than the acceptable range so the doctor agreed to take me to Labour Ward to be properly induced.

When I arrived in Labour Ward I was having contractions every 10 minutes and they were all quite bearable. The next few hours were spent by me and my husband doing the Daily Mail crossword; as you can imagine I didn’t get many of the answers correct.

In my birth plan I had requested that I have a natural delivery and that I only have a caesarian section if there was an emergency. I discussed this with the doctor who would be delivering and she said that “We like natural deliveries”. We then went on to discuss what pain relief I would be using.

I had checked the pain relief available and had decided I would try to not use any of the options as I thought that by the time the pain was unbearable I would be in the second stage of labour, ready to deliver, and  it would be too late to change my mind about drugs.

My main pain relief was my ipod! I had a variety of playlists from relaxing Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to the Foo Fighters and Marc Bolan and went through different sounds during my 9 hour labour. It may sound ridiculous but the music helped me so much as a distraction and as mood setting.

I was disappointed that things I had learnt in Ante Natal class such as using a birthing ball or a birthing bath in labour were not really practical due to the baby heart monitors. Any movements could nudge the monitors so even walking around the delivery room proved difficult.

The contractions were becoming unbearably painful by about midnight (5 hours into labour) but I stuck with no pain relief. I stood up, sat down, lay down, rocked back and forth to get through it. One of the things that really helped was the breathing and a suggestion from my husband to actually count through the contaction knowing that after 20 seconds the pain would have subsided.

At the second stage of labour the Operating Theatre was prepared as it is normal procedure at Chase Farm to deliver multiple babies in an Operating Theatre and that a midwife, a pediatrician, a doctor and more are required per baby. I think there were about 12 people in theatre not including me and my husband! During the second stage of labour there is absolutely no pain in-between the contractions, such a relief,  so you get several minutes of resting between each push.

My first beautiful baby was delivered at 3.45am and whisked away for me to continue with my second delivery, I didn’t even know the sex of my first babe. My second baby followed 5 minutes later by forceps delivery. I could see straight away that Twin 2 was a boy. We had a girl and a boy!

We are the luckiest people in the world!

Primary School Places

I am currently supporting a parent trying to get her son a school place in the London Borough of Enfield. Mrs M has 2 children, J who has a place in Year 4 at a Primary School in LB Enfield and K who has not been offered a place at any school and has been out of education sice October 2009.

Mrs M is distraught that her son is not being educated and that there is no iminent prospect of K being offered any school place.

I have been speaking with LB Enfield and their legal obligation is to offer a place at a school in LB Enfield, not necessarily at the school that K’s brother is attending or even at a school close to where they live. It is Mrs M’s legal responsibility to ensure that K attends school.

Whilst trying to help in this problem I realise that it may not be in the family’s best interest to force LB Enfield into offering a place at any school due to the logistics of taking one child to a local school and then taking another child to the other side of the borough to another school which is clearly not sustainable.

Last week I spoke with the Council and found there are 2 primary schools which had a place and a very short waiting list in close proximity to Mrs M’s home. Mrs M has now put K on the waiting list of both schools. I will continue to contact the Council regularly to ascertain if more Year 1 places become available.

My thoughts – The Council are trying to fulfill their obligations to the best of their ability and in this case there would be no benefit to the family to force the Council to provide a place at any school for K. I do think that more can be done to maintain communication for example the Council phoning parents who don’t have a school place regularly (I would like to see it done daily).

The problem that Mrs M is facing is clearly affecting the moral of the whole family and there is a feeling of helplessness and desperation that they have endured for 7 months. I’m hoping that between us K gets into a school within the next few weeks and I will be phoning the Council daily to try and achieve this.

17 May 2010

As some of you may know if you have been following my blog, I have been trying to help Mrs M get her son K into a primary school. Today Mrs M was offered a school place for K at a primary school. Good news however the school is too far away from the school where her other child is going. If she takes one child to school then the other will be one hour late everyday and won’t be picked up on time. Mrs M is going to turn the place down with much regret. I have phoned the school where son J is, and K is either 1st or 2nd on the waiting list. I’ll be phoning again tomorrow.

6th July 2010

I am delighted that Mrs M’s son started his first day at school today in Year 1 after being out of school since October last year. Clearly there are not enough primary school places that there is no flexibility to allow 1 child into a class. Ideal class sizes are approximately 18 children however the schools in Enfield have 30 pupils per class and over subscribed. On a personal note I am so happy for Mrs M and her family.