Invicta School’s rebuilding moves a step closer

InvictaThe rebuilding of Invicta Primary School has moved a big step closer. A planning application could be submitted this summer, following consultation with parents and the school’s neighbours, and work could start on site this autumn. The new school building could be completed in late 2015 and all work on site finished as soon as spring 2016.

A letter from the headteacher Marie Corbett to parents earlier this week explains that Invicta has been designated by the Education Funding Agency as the ‘Initial School’ (in other words, the first to be rebuilt) in the batch of three south-east London schools in the Priority School Building Programme (one of the others is Our Lady of Grace, the Roman Catholic primary school just down Charlton Road from Invicta). You can read the letter, which has been posted on the school’s website, here.

As Ms Corbett’s letter says, the school has waited five years for this good news and a new building for Invicta (which was last rebuilt in 1952, in buildings thaThomas Tallis School - new signst were supposed to be only temporary) is long overdue: it is two and a half years since Greenwich’s Labour council first submitted a bid to get Invicta rebuilt.

The rebuilding of Invicta (which was rightly judged to be Outstanding by Ofsted last year) will follow the rebuilding of both secondary schools in Blackheath Westcombe ward through the last Labour government’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. Thomas Tallis‘s rebuilding was completed in late 2011 and the rebuilding of John Roan‘s Westcombe Park Road site, and the refurbishment of its Maze Hill building, are on track  to be completed in September 2014 (work is currently a few weeks ahead of schedule in fact).

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Congratulations to The John Roan – another good local school

John Roan upper school before refurb 2012The John Roan School has just been judged as “Good” by Ofsted inspectors – a real tribute to headteacher Des Malone, other staff and governors. The school had been judged to be “Satisfactory” at its last inspection in 2011 – an over-harsh judgement which I am glad has now been superceded.

Ofsted’s report, published on December 6th after the inspection on November 20th-21st, can be read here. What’s telling is that the school has been found to be doing so well despite the current disruption caused by the school’s rebuilding – the Maze Hill campus is currently a building site, on the Westcombe Park Road site pupils are being taught in a temporary block as work is completed on a new building, and the school has temporarily taken over a third site, on Royal Hill in the middle of Greenwich, in the meantime.

John Roan School's new Westcombe Park Road building has recently been topped out

John Roan School’s new Westcombe Park Road building has recently been topped out

“The major building works which have been underway for more than a year present particular challenges which the students cope with extremely effectively,” the inspectors say. “They behave in an exemplary fashion when moving site to site and their good behaviour is remarked upon and appreciated by the local community.”

Ofsted inspectors do not give praise lightly, so the judgement is something that the school, and its governors and students , can be very proud of. Read more of this post

Invicta: a great school deserves a great building

Invicta signInvicta Primary School is a great local success story. It has recently expanded to two forms of entry,  and was judged as “Outstanding” by Ofsted earlier this year. It has just started supporting Bishop John Robinson School in Thamesmead – a huge vote of confidence in the head, Marie Corbett, and the other staff at Invicta. It has a thriving Children’s Centre in its grounds, offering a range of services for under-fives and their parents.

But lnvicta deserves a better building. Its current building dates back to 1952, replacing a Victorian building that was badly damaged by wartime bombing, and this 1950s reconstruction was never intended to be permanent. By and large the building (apart from the addition of some portacabins because of its recent expansion to two forms of entry) is exactly as it was when I was a pupil there in the early 1980s (I am now a governor there, as is Labour candidate Cherry Parker). Its windows and roof have reached the end of their lifespan and the building is simply not fit for purpose. Read more of this post

Thomas Tallis School opens up its sports halls

IMG00219-20111102-1044Thomas Tallis School, which was completely rebuilt two years ago with state-of-the-art sports facilities, is now offering more public access to them, both for individuals as well as sports clubs.

The sports halls at Tallis have been used by clubs- including the Metro Judo Club which used to meet at Mycenae House, and which Olympic medal-winner Gemma Gibbons used to be a member of – ever since the school’s new building opened in November 2011. The new school and its sports facilities are an important part of the borough’s Olympic legacy.

But the Halls’ availability for use by individuals, rather than clubs, had not been well publicised. Local residents, including Labour candidates Cherry Parker and Simon Thomson (who both live on Kidbrooke Park Road near the school) have lobbied Greenwich Leisure Limited (which is contracted to run the sports hall under its new brand name, Better) to ask them to publicise its availability better. Read more of this post

One Nation Education: Roy Preston’s memorial conference

Education conferenceSixty delegates came to the Forum at Greenwich two weeks ago, on June 22nd, for a “One Nation Education” conference in memory of Roy Preston, a long-standing Labour party member, school governor and former councillor, who died in June 2012. A year on from his death, it was poignant not having Roy as a participant at the kind of event he would have loved.

Local party members Annie Keys, Jo Ann Galloway, Prof Carl Parsons, Ella Statham, John Galloway and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services Cllr Jackie Smith all spoke, as did the headteacher of John Roan School, Des Malone, and the developer behind the new Cruise Liner Terminal planned for Greenwich, James Blakey. And we were honoured to have Roy’s widow Pat and his children Nick, Karen and Alison all there. Read more of this post

Is it back to the 1990s?

Sitting in Blackheath Halls for the recording of BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions two weeks ago, I realised how reminiscent of a recent decade our politics is becoming.

No, not the 1980s (even if Michael Heseltine, Chris Patten, Lord McAlpine and several other 1980s political figures have featured heavily in the news media recently, for a variety of reasons). It is the 1990s that seem to have started replaying.

The John Major Government of 1992-1997, with its limited ambitions, sluggish economic growth, splits over Europe, Hospital closures, by-election disasters, and petty and regressive measures to curb benefit entitlements, seem eerily similar to the current Government’s travails. It is too simplistic to label the current Government Thatcherite – I think Majorite is much more spot-on.

On Any Questions, local Labour party member Jean Bloch (a council candidate in Blackheath Westcombe ward back in 2006) asked one of the best questions of the night – should Government force people to cut their cloth according to their means (a reference to that week’s announcement that benefits may be capped for claimants who have two or more children). Read more of this post

John Roan school – work finally begins

After many years of discussion – and a possible move to the Peninsula which won planning approval but was halted by tightened safety rules over the gasometer near the site – work on rebuilding John Roan School’s Westcombe Park Road site has begun.

Work there to lay the foundations for temporary classrooms at the back of the Westcombe Park Road site has now started. The new classrooms should arrive in March 2012, with demolition of the current building starting in July 2012 – just as the Olympics start – at the end of the summer term. Read more of this post