'Schools of Choice' Report is Unveiled
Radical changes proposed to local secondary education
A commission set up to examine secondary school education in Fulham has recommended that Fulham Cross Girls’ and Henry Compton Schools should be brought together to form a new school.
The Fulham Schools Commission, led by former Chief Inspector of Schools, Baroness Perry of Southwark, presented its findings at a meeting of invited headteachers and governors on 6 September. The proposal is just one of a number of findings looking at the long-term educational needs of the borough.
The Commission, which included a range of independent education experts, recommended that Fulham Cross Girls’ and Henry Compton schools be brought together to provide single sex teaching up to the age of 16 - with a mixed sixth form. Staff would teach across the whole school and there would be the opportunity for some mixed classes in a minority of cases. It also recommended that H&F seek a partner to strengthen Hurlingham and Chelsea school after an earlier recommendation that the school be closed was shelved. The report recognises improvements at the school but suggests that H&F should explore a partnership approach in order to strengthen the school and give it a solid base for the future. This would include the provision of a sixth-form that serves more appropriately the needs of the local community. The report notes that there has already been an expression of interest from the French Government in establishing a school in partnership with a secondary school in H&F.
The Commission brought together four education experts between June and July 2007 to look at requirements for secondary school places, standards and parental choice, collaboration between schools and new forms of organisation and provision for 14-19 year olds.The experts included William Atkinson, Head of Phoenix High, Bob Litchfield, former Director of Education and Deputy Chief Executive of Camden Council and John McIntosh, former Head of the London Oratory School in Fulham.
They spent two months compiling the report, visiting schools and speaking to headteachers, governors, parents and pupils.
“We gave The Commission a completely blank piece of paper,” said Council Leader Cllr Greenhalgh. “The only remit they had was to look at ways of providing high quality schools of choice.”
The council intends to use the report as the basis for putting forward long-term plans under the national Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme which gives the council access to £100 million of potential investment.
The report says: "We regard this as an exciting proposal which recognises the case for separate teaching for boys and girls but also offers the benefits of shared resources and expertise."
The Commission recognises the success of William Morris and recommends H&F consider ways in which the school, in partnership with Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College, supports the development of 14-19 education. The Commission recommends that H&F, schools and the college, review the current strategic plan with a view to providing a full range of academic and vocational needs planned carefully between institutions.
In a letter to Council Leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh and Cllr Antony Lillis, Cabinet Member for Community and Children's Services, Chairman of the Commission, Baroness Perry of Southwark, concludes: "We opted for change, but change that we hope goes with the grain of the ambitions and plans that the schools and parents have. Our greatest hope is that it [the report] will contribute to schools of choice and excellent education for young people in Fulham."
Cllr Greenhalgh welcomed the report. "We recognise the improvement going on in our schools and the hard work from all concerned to bring that about. Our aim now is to work with the schools to examine ways we can build on those solid foundations. The vision of this authority is to create a ladder of opportunity for pupils, delivering state-of-the-art education. The report gives us a clear direction in which we can move forward. While supporting the report's findings, our next task is to go away and look at the feasibility of the recommendations.”
A report with the council's initial reaction to the Commission’s findings will be made at the Council’s Cabinet meeting on October 8. The council's strategy under the BSF programme will be published for consultation next February, with detailed proposals between April and August 2008. The earliest any work could start is 2010/11.
The report is published inf full on the council's web site at www.lbhf.gov.uk
September 7, 2007