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Boost for local schools in bid to tackle inequality 6 April 2015

Posted by George Crozier in Education.
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SSchoolchildren (stock photo)chools in Forest Hill have received millions of pounds of extra funding to help children from less privileged backgrounds get a better start in life – thanks to the Liberal Democrats.

Learning mentors, one-to-one tuition and after school ‘booster groups’ are just a few of the ways that local schools are using the money.

The money is coming from the ‘Pupil Premium’, a key policy in the Lib Dem manifesto at the last election designed to tackle inequality by providing extra money to schools based on how many pupils they have from less well-off households. It is a response to the fact that children from poorer backgrounds consistently lag behind in their educational achievements.

Forest Hill campaigner Alex Feakes, who is Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Lewisham West and Penge at May’s general election, praised the Pupil Premium for delivering extra funding where it is needed:

“It is a sad state of affairs that, if a child’s parents are less well-off, by the time they start primary school they are more likely to be behind the other children; they’re more likely to leave primary school unable to read and write properly; they’re much less likely to go on to get five good GSCEs, to stay on for A-levels or go to university.

“Liberal Democrats are determined to change this. We want to level the playing field so that all children can flourish – not just the well-off. That’s why, even in some of the toughest spending rounds in living memory, we have fought to deliver our £2.5 billion a year pupil premium – additional money to help close the gap. And the great news is that we are beginning to see its effects already.”

An Ofsted report published in July last year concluded that: “The pupil premium is making a difference in many schools… [T]he concerted efforts of good leaders and teachers are helping to increase outcomes for pupils eligible for the pupil premium.”

Alex, who is himself a teacher at a girls’ comprehensive school, added: “Liberal Democrats are fighting in government for a fairer society where all children have opportunities to succeed in life. Through the pupil premium, we’re starting to win that fight.”

Pupil Premium figures for Forest Hill schoolsHow local schools are spending Pupil Premium money

Local schools have won awards for their effective use of Pupil Premium money.

Sydenham School‘s work includes one-to-one and small group tuition in Maths and English led by full time tutors, a full time Speech and Language Therapist and Learning Mentors. The school’s success gained them membership of the ‘Gold Club’ of London schools in 2013/14.

Eliot Bank Primary School have also won Gold Club awards and are among the top 250 schools in the country for educating disadvantaged pupils. They use their Pupil Premium money to fund reading buddies, small group support, subsidised school trips and school-run clubs.

All schools have webpages showing how they are using the Pupil Premium to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Hamilton Lodge set to become hostel 14 March 2015

Posted by George Crozier in Education, Housing, Lewisham Council.
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Disappointment at council failure to take opportunity to tackle school places shortage

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 Forest Hill FocusFlashback: In April 2014 Forest Hill Lib Dems urged the Council to consider using Hamilton Lodge for schooling

Lewisham Council intend to use Hamilton Lodge on Honor Oak Road as a homeless hostel. The council confirmed to us that they have purchased the property, which was previously a care home, and are currently going through the planning process to change the building’s use. They are initially proposing to use it as a hostel for five years, reviewing its future use after that period.

This has come as a disappointment to local residents who had seen the Lodge as a possible answer to our area’s shortage of primary school places. This summer some children again failed to get places in popular local schools like Fairlawn and Horniman and have ended up commuting over a mile to a school elsewhere in the borough.

“Despite warnings about rising pupil numbers the council failed to plan ahead and we have ended up with the current shortage of school places in Honor Oak and Forest Hill,” said Forest Hill campaigner Alex Feakes.

“Hamilton Lodge is one of a very small number of sites locally that are suitable for new schools or classrooms. It is a shame that the council have not given serious consideration to using the site for schooling.”

“The council need to explain how they will cope with growing demand for local school places, especially with new development taking place, for example at Tyson Road.”