Hammersmith and Fulham council are planning to close a lovely and highly successful community primary school in Fulham to give the site away to the planned Fulham Boys’ School, a planned Church of England Secondary Free School. Please support the campaign to save Sulivan Primary School.
Let me give you a bit of background on the planned closure, and then I will tell you what you can do to help. Most of you will know that I am in general a supporter of free schools if they lead to increased choice and standards for local parents. If their creation requires the abrupt closure of a successful and popular community primary, however, I cannot see any benefit to local parents. According to Rosie Wait, chair of governors at Sulivan Primary School: “There is no transparency. It should not be within the power of the Council to give away valuable Council land to a new business which has no record! We don’t even know the company name behind the Free School. We believe there should be a separate public consultation for the Free School”.
Officially, this closure has been advertised as an “amalgamation” of two primary schools, Sulivan Primary and New Kings Primary. However, Sulivan Primary School will be closed with all of its staff dismissed (although some will be allowed to reapply for jobs at the amalgamated school) and pupils transferred to New Kings Primary. If it is the first time you hear about this story, this is no surprise, because it seems the council has planned to push this closure through with minimum publicity. The plans were published on the council website and nowhere else a couple of days before the summer holidays and only parents at the affected schools would have heard about the story.
Why did the council single out Sulivan School for closure?
The official reason is that the school, along with New Kings Primary, is undersubscribed and is seldom listed as a first choice by parents in their state school applications. They did not disclose that the nursery and Reception classes are oversubscribed and have been gaining popularity in recent years. You should also take into account that the school is currently located right next to the French Lycee primary school Marie d’Orliac that draws hundreds of first choice applications because it feeds directly to the Lycee Charles de Gaulle, one of the top secondary schools in London. So it’s not surprising it is more often listed as a second choice.
The real reason is not public at the moment but my guess is that the school was targeted for closure because it has the loveliest grounds of any primary school in the borough – large outdoor space, big play areas, a garden, an outdoor science lab, and it is located right between South Park and Hurlingham Park, thus making it an attractive target for anyone looking to open up a new free school. Save our Sulivan campaigner Rosie Wait agrees: “They want our site – simple as that”
Why should you help save Sulivan Primary School from closure?
- It is one of the very few primary schools in Fulham that is open to children of all faiths – this is very important for international families who do not have access to local Catholic or Church of England schools
- It is one of the highest performing community primaries in the borough with 44% of children reaching Level 5 in Maths and English in Key Stage 2 in last year’s SATS. It is also one of the community primaries with the highest value added scores in the borough, helping many children from disadvantaged backgrounds gain a very solid education in a happy environment
- Far from being undersubscribed, the school’s roll has increased considerably, with numbers up from 300 to 325 over the last year. The council actually put outdated roll numbers into the consultation document to suggest the school is undersubscribed
- The “amalgamation” will reduce available Reception places by 20% from 75 (45 at Sulivan and 30 at New Kings) to 60 as planned for the merged school. This comes at a time when thousands of young families are moving to the neighbourhood and the 2011 census results show the number of 0-5 year olds is double the number of 5-10 year olds in the borough!
- Given the demographic developments in Fulham and Central London in general given above, closing a successful primary school to create a single sex secondary school that reserves 50% of places to families affiliated with the Church of England will put available state school places in the borough under massive pressure
What you can do to help save Sulivan Primary School
- take part in the public consultation regarding the “amalgamation” of New Kings Primary and Sulivan school. You can make a short statement on why you think the school deserves to remain open
- Like the Save Our Sulivan Facebook page to spread the message
- Visit Save Our Sulivan campaign page
- Follow SaveOurSulivan on twitter and RT
- If you are a journalist, blogger or have contact to media personalities, help spread the word! The council seems to try and push this school closure through with as little publicity as possible – I myself only found out about it by coincidence, and I know mums with children due to start at the school in a couple of weeks who were completely unaware of these plans
- Sulivan Primary School website
- Public consultation form
- Save our Sulivan campaign website
- Save our Sulivan Facebook page
- BBC Primary League Tables for Hammersmith and Fulham