Secondary School Results

Good to see the overall secondary school league tables showing Southwark in such a positive light.

Some new stunningly good GCSE new entries – Harris Boys Academy East Dulwich with 71% with 5 good GCSE’s including Maths and English.

Very good A-Level results as well.

Well done everoyne who made this and all the other schools results so good this year. Also great positive trends.

East Dulwich New Capital Projects

2002 Southwark Lib Dems initiated the Cleaner, Greener, Safer programme where each ward in Southwark gets a pot of capital money to allocate to new projects.

Last night we decided which projects to support in East Dulwich ward – ED CGS 15_16

Safer: Fencing between Dulwich library and St.Thomas Moore RC Church, Library Annexe opened as new space for Police surgeries and the like, More Crime Prevention, Norcroft Gardens fencing and lgihting.

Cleaner: Friern Road estate play area renewal, Goose Green School entrance, East Dulwich Community Centre new flooring.

Greener: Lots more trees locally, Physic GardenHeber School Upcycle Garden.

Our next funding decision will be our £25,000 of revenue funding in March. If you have any ideas to make the area better please let us know.

New Dulwich Hospital Plans

Today Dulwich councillors were sent confirmation that new health facilities will be constructed on the Dulwich Hospital Site. The new health centre will be a new build and initially house the existing facilities provided at the Dulwich Hospital with the capacity to deliver more.

After 22 years I’m chuffed that a coalition government involving Lib Dems finally have decided what to do with this site and the re-provision of more health services. Hooray. Just the boring details of making it happen!

Dulwich HospitalWhen Cllr Rosie Shimell, Jonathan Mitchell and I were elected in 2010 we made it one of our priorities to get things moving on the Dulwich Hospital. We ran a survey of over 25,000 local residents, street stalls, knocking on local residents door to find out what people think and wanted. This built on the sterling work Jonathan had done in helping to stop the things just being closed and sold.

15-01-16 Brand new health centre to be built in Dulwich FINAL

The full details will be released 22 January to the CCG Governing Body. The announcement I’ve received makes it clear NHS Property are now looking to sell the surplus land i will do everything in my power to ensure all the spare land is used for educational purposes.

What is troubling is that any money from the sale of land will be used nationally and not ring fenced to Dulwich. The Dulwich Hospital was paid for by public subscription by former Dulwich residents. It speaks volumes that such monies donated to health causes and charities could be ultimately used outside the area the donors could reasonably ever have expected.



School Admissions and Congestion

The biggest industry and businesses in the Dulwich area are in education. Not just the required schools for local children  – the 3 out of the 4 state secondary school or 11 infant and primary schools but also the private schools – 3 secondary schools and 5 infant and primary schools. (Kingsdale with it lottery admissions is no longer a genuinely local school).

These private schools and Kingsdale do attract many local children but they also have huge catchment areas. They support a private school bus network required to support such hugely expanded schools. And their expansion has been marked over the years.

I don’t blame the parents or children coming so far. We have great local schools but with so many now coming from so far it is contributing to serious local congestion.

The irony of those private schools being the core of a the Dulwich and Herne Hill Safe Route to School group while contributing so much to the congestion this worthy group wish to reduce won’t be lost on local residents. This group is now supporting measures to limit local junctions to try and reduce local congestion.

Southwark Council needs to find ways to reduce these attractive schools catchment areas and the congestion large catchment areas is causing.

I Southwark Council will use the planning process to impose new admissions conditions to further this aim.

This would be the route to minimising congestion and the harm and danger this causes local school pupils

Do you agree?

Crucial Baby Talk – “language nutrition”

As a society we appear to be talking to babies less. Cliche of the parent pushing a pushchair with one hand and using a smartphone with the other. The baby loses valuable talk time or “language nutrition”.

But the first 1,000 days of life are crucial for brain development. A poor, in terms of intellectual stimuli, environment can make a lasting negative impact.

In the US a new public health scheme started this month – Talk With Baby. Nurses, teachers, etc have been taught how to speak with babies. Babies respond better to sing song talk. The idea is they then pass this training on during any interactions with parents and encourage those parents to talk with their babies. By 2018 Georgia state in the US hopes all parents of children born will be involved.

Past research has shown infants from wealthier families had heard 30 million more words by age 3 than infants from other less wealthy families. This appears to result in kids better able to stay on tasks, higher cognitive skills.

This is why Georgia has this new programme – they have a large gap in attainment to close.

It will be interesting to see if the high expectations of this scheme are materialised…

If it is then we should consider starting a scheme in SE London.

New Gipsy Hill Federation Secondary School

Yesterday evening I met Sir Craig Tunstall, executive head of the highly regarded Gipsy Hill Federation, to discuss his plans for a new secondary school in the area. The plans for a secondary school follow overwhelming support from over 2,000 local parents at the federation’s primary schools, who want their children to continue their education within the Gipsy Hill Federation. It already is oversubscribed by 130% and all going well will open 2016.

For the last five years my number one priority has been ensuring local families have a great school for their child.

This has meant initiating and leading several campaign for new free schools. I’ve also helped with lots of practically help other free school campaign. At the last count five new local free schools.

The government’s free school policy is practically the ‘only show in town’ to build new school so despite my initial serious personal misgiving I’ve put those aside and pressed on to ensure we have lots of great local school place. We’re avoiding the worst of the national school admissions crisis. Phew!

Our next priority has to be helping create lots of new quality nursery places. We simply don’t have enough locally.

Do you know of any great new locations for a new nursery?


End Unpaid Internships

Few young people can afford to spend months working for free as unpaid interns. The Liberal Democrats in Government have recognised cracking down on unpaid internships, including the introduction of the Government’s Social Mobility Business Compact, the policy of naming and shaming rogue employers, steeper fines for non-payment of the national minimum wage and clearer advice through Government websites.

All good stuff but we need to go further. We need to end unpaid internships lasting longer than four weeks to help address this problem and to create a stronger economy and a fairer society.

This is the right thing to do, ending long term unpaid internships which price out young people from careers they have the aptitude for, and deprive businesses of talent. While many unpaid internships are already in breach of National Minimum Wage law, this would create a presumption that a young person on an internship is a worker (and is thus eligible to be paid) after four weeks. Importantly, this could be achieved in this Parliament.

As well as supporting young people and improving social mobility, this proposal would also provide employers with clarity on the lawcwith most polled supporting this change.

I’m hopeful this well thought through change will happen soon – do you agree?


Pupil Premium £22M Boost

Primary schools in England are to be handed an extra £22.5 million next year to help close the gap between the poorest pupils and their richer classmates, thanks to the Liberal Democrats. £390,000 will go to Lambeth and Southwark Schools on top of the existing £39M planned for 2015/16.

The Pupil premium, which was created and successfully delivered by the Lib Dems in Government, helps support disadvantaged youngsters from the time they start school, and stop them falling behind. The pupil premium funding for 2015/16 will help teachers support those children at most risk of falling behind their colleagues.

In total, primary schools will get £1,320 for every child who has been registered for free school meals (FSM) in the last six years, while pupils in secondaries will receive £935 each. All schools will still receive £1,900 for youngsters who are in care, or who have left care due to adoption or other reasons.

Evidence shows raising the attainment of pupils by the end of primary schools has a direct impact on future exam results.

I’m delighted that this will help every child reach their full potential, whatever their background. The whole class also benefits when fewer children are struggling.


“Whims of here-today, gone-tomorrow politicians” damaging education

The Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws has warned in a BBC interview of the “corrosive impact” of self-interested political meddling in schools policy in England. He seems to be spot on in his analysis. He is  calling for an independent body to set the curriculum content and measure whether standards in schools are really improving or declining.

The “whims of here-today, gone-tomorrow politicians” should not decide which books pupils study, Mr Laws said. The schools minister is setting out Lib Dem ideas saying parents and teachers would have much greater confidence in an education system with less “political interference”. Such an independent Education Standards Authority would:

  • Control curriculum content and prevent short-term political changes
  • Provide an objective measure on standards to stop politicians “marking their own homework”

The schools minister also said the Lib Dems would keep the academy school system, and allow more free schools to open. Without free schools and the freedoms academies now have we wouldn’t be solving our local school place crisis. So thisi s good new for Dulwich, Lambeth and Southwark.

Clearly we would still have politicians setting the overall national strategy and financing of the education system but the curriculum detail should be left to subject specialists who have sometimes been ignoredunder the current system.

David Laws also pointed out “Ministers float in and out of the department, often for quite short periods of time” which created “too much turbulence”. The one thing all organisations is stability.

This is clearly a swipe at the controversial re-writing of the curriculum under the previous education secretary Michael Gove, saying parts of the new curriculum have been decided “on a whim”. Barmy things like dropping American modern literature such as Arthur Miller, F Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck and Harper Lee.

Mr Laws called for “realistic comparisons with other countries, based on evidence rather than bogus claims about the latest performance data, which are based often on a partisan assessment”.

“We’ll have a better education system if the degree of political volatility is reduced and policy-making is based more on evidence and less on what suits the politicians in control,” he said.

Mr Laws said independent schools benefited from being at a “greater degree of distance” from the constant upheavals in the state sector.

David Laws said the Liberal Democrats were making a “cradle to college” spending promise to protect budgets from pre-school classes through to the 16- to 19-year-old-age group.

In contrast, he warned the spending plans of the Conservatives beyond the election would leave education services unprotected and at risk of being cut.

He said the Liberal Democrats in office had delivered the pupil premium to support disadvantaged pupils and free meals to infant pupils.

Mr Laws also said he wants to extend free meals to all pupils in primary school.

There is divergence with their coalition partners over allowing Ofsted to inspect academy chains.

“I think it’s inevitable – and most people in Parliament think it’s not defensible in the future to have a different system of accountability for academy chains and local authorities,” he said.

And there is no ruling out more free schools.

With the right sponsors and in the right areas, he said: “We’re certainly not saying that we couldn’t have any more free schools.”