CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

St Aloysius serves some of the most deprived children in our community

10 May, 2019

St Aloysius Primary School

• THE proposed closure of St Aloysius Primary School is shocking, (St Aloysius Primary School could shut by Christmas, April 25).

If it goes through, it will leave hundreds of children and their families looking for a new school, with siblings and friends wanting and needing to continue to learn and play together.

It is important to remember St Aloysius serves some of the most deprived children in our community, with 55.4 per cent of pupils eligible for free school meals at any time during the past six years. Yet again the hammer falls on the neediest.

The proposed closure is due to “falling birth rates, lower numbers of school-age children in the area, and a drop in pupil numbers at the school.”

It seems incredible that less than three years ago, Cllr Angela Mason solemnly declared to the planning committee that we would need to expand the number of school places in Somers Town, as the population was predicted to grow by 47.4 per cent by 2028.

Perhaps she should have read Camden’s 2015 Annual School Places Planning Process report, which would have warned her that birth rates were plummeting across London.

So where are we with the Central Somers Town Community Investment Programme? The new Edith Neville School being built is a one-form-entry primary that is as big as a two-form entry primary. Running costs will inevitably be higher than necessary.

Its children’s centre was closed before the planning application was submitted, but they are building a new home for their excellent family centre. Without core funding this is constantly looking to cover its costs.

If the school’s two-year-old unit opens, it will undermine both the Hampden and Community Centre nurseries, as there are no waiting lists for two-years-olds in Somers Town.

St Aloysius nursery has been built on what was designated public open space on Polygon Road open space. The school informed Camden that it wouldn’t be moving into the building in autumn 2017. That cost a million pounds and an irreplaceable loss of green space and category A trees.

The loss of the biggest school in the area would have profound consequences for Plot 10 – St Aloysius used to use their ball courts during the school day, and pupils attend clubs before and after school as well as during the holidays.

It is to be hoped that Camden won’t be charging Plot 10 rent in their expensive new building, or this Somers Town institution, too, will be under threat.

Somers Town Neighbourhood Forum’s “low-impact” scheme for Somers Town was ruthlessly crushed by an administration unable to accept challenge. Perhaps the current administration will be more open to listening?

Last summer Camden agreed the transfer of 355 square metres of St Aloysius infants site from the local authority to the governing body of St Aloysius Primary School.

If St Aloysius decides to close on both sites, that land should be returned to Camden and used to build social housing. Instead of on our parks.

SLANEY DEVLIN
NW1

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