17 January 2011

URGENT - Are Tories breaking promise to children with special educational needs in favour of “free” school?

Last week, Tory Hammersmith Council announced it was cutting £6.95 million from children’s services, including nine out of 15 Sure Start early years centres. Now we have just heard it is planning to hijack a building earmarked for disabled children and give it to Toby Young’s “free” school for two years.

The council had previously promised the Bryony Centre in W12 to the Cambridge School as a replacement for its crumbling building. The Cambridge School educates children with a wide range of learning difficulties and other disabilities.

Cambridge pupils were expecting to move into the rebuilt Bryony Centre in 2012, with the building transformed to meet their special educational needs. An added bonus was to be closer working with neighbouring mainstream pupils at Phoenix High school and access to the on-site Janet Adegoke pool and gym.

At best, this now appears to be delayed for two years. At worst, it may never happen.

We also gather that Tory council leader Stephen Greenhalgh last week summoned the trustees of Palingswick House and told them that all the 20+ charities currently there must leave the building by August.

Have disabled children really been shoved to the back of the queue by the sharp elbows of Toby Young and his Latin scholars?
  • Is the council still committed to the Cambridge School moving into the Bryony Centre? If so, when will this happen?
  • Will the “free” school be paying any rent wherever it is located?
  • What other funding will the council be giving to the “free” school (money which would otherwise have gone to existing schools or other local services)?
  • Given that half the “free” school's pupils will come from outside the borough, why is the council supporting it over local residents?
  • Where will the “free” school go after two years?
  • What is happening to Palingswick House? Is it now being sold off or will the “free” school still move into it in two years' time?
  • What is the Askham Family Centre's future if the the“free” school is not taking it for its first year?
  • Given that the Bryony Centre is next door to Phoenix High School, will the “free” school cream off Phoenix's best pupils?
  • What do Cambridge and Phoenix High think about all this?

1 comment:

Dennis Charman said...

I can tell you that staff at Cambridge think it stinks.

More later