If you did not attend the meeting regarding London Dock school last week then you missed some good cake. You also missed becoming confused by the well, confusion. LW went along to try and clarify what is going on with Mulberry Schools Trust, the Council and London Dock school and can safely say we have failed.
Instead of a clarification of what is going on with we have a brief snapshot report of the meeting, further details about The Press Release That Was Published Then Unpublished and some correspondence between some interested parties. We do not have cake.
As there have been complaints (well, only one) that LW posts tend to be too long (sorry!) we are splitting this post into two. Both of which are quite long (hah!).
The Tea Party
The meeting was well attended by around 50 people, many of them parents. The main part of the evening was a talk by Dr. Vanessa Ogden of Mulberry Schools Trust. Dr. Ogden was at pains to highlight that it was “most important that people have a chance to have a voice” and also stated that there were “no direct plans for a public consultation.”
Also in attendance were quite a few staff from Mulberry, Cllr. Rachel Saunders (Deputy Mayor for Education), Cllr Denise Jones (Labour, SKD & Wapping) who is also a Governor at MST. Cllr. Julia Dockerill (Conservative, SKD & Wapping) was also in attendance in the audience.
Some (but not all) questions & comments by parents
Q: When would a school on London Dock site be completed?
MST A: There would be an 18-month decision making process so the soonest it could be completed would be 2019–2020.
Q: Do we have votes during the public consultation?
MST A: The voices heard tonight are the start of that. Some people have said they want a co-ed school, others boys. North of The Highway there have been voices for boys, south of The Highway more are in favour of a co-ed school. [This assumption was disputed by a parent later on.]
“People in Wapping want a co-ed school”
“Should there be any type of school on that site at all? The level of pollution are sky-high. I have checked the incidence of asthma cases in children at the local doctors and they are high.”
Multi-cultural education concerns
Q: “I went to visit Mulberry with my daughter [as a prospective pupil] and she felt very uncomfortable culturally,” said one parent. “One of my main concerns with the London Dock school is how it works in a multi-cultural community. At Mulberry we saw a performance [by girls] which male parents were not allowed to attend. At another school we visited [Sir John Cass – not part of MST] there were different playgrounds for girls and boys. I am sure I echo the voice of others that this issue is very important.”
Q: “I live north of The Highway and I have a child at St. Pauls Primary School opposite the London Dock site. I have four girls and one boy. The assertion that parents north of The Highway want a single sex school is wrong. According to the Head of Ofsted it is detrimental to educate girls and boys separately. I get the feeling that MST have just thought well we have a girls only school, lets have a boys only school to match it. “
Cllr. Julia Dockerill Q: “There is a big issue regarding transparency here. No-one tells me anything! It seems the Council is giving preferential treatment to MST.
Cllr. Rachael Saunders A: “It’s a very odd situation that we are trying to navigate out way through, this is the first time we have done this process.”
Q: “I have a seven year old son and I am adamant that i want to send him to a co-ed school. How do we register our preference?”
Sue Hughes, Friends of St. Katharine Docks “It seems to be that while it is great to hear about the plans of MST for London Dock there is no agenda and I only heard about this via Love Wapping. The presentation tonight is great promotion for MST but we need to understand the process. This is too soon. It must be open and transparent.”
LW Q: ”Why was a press release announcing that MST had been given permission to create a new boys only secondary school published on the MST site for only a short time then withdrawn from view?”
MST A: “As you know being a member of the media we publish news for a short time only then withdraw them.”
LW Response: ”What absolute nonsense!” (Or did we say ‘What absolute bullshit?”)
The Press Release That Was Published Then Unpublished
LW does not usually ask questions at these types of events but we took this opportunity to make public a peculiar wrinkle in this particular story.
When researching our previous story London Dock secondary school – parents to decide if mixed or single sex the Wapping Mole did his usual thing by doing a Google search for Mulberry School for Boys as we had been informed that MST had plans for a boys-only school at London Dock.
This is the result Google returned:
Bingo! Or so we thought. Because clicking on the Google result gave us this:
Odd. It seemed to LW that something had been on the MST site then removed. We clicked on the teeny weeny black triangle to the right of the Google search which provides people with a cached version, i.e. a version of the missing page that did exist at some point. We were rewarded with this:
Ah! And lo and behold below the title of the cached page was an inviting little link called ‘Click here for the full press release’. Being nosy by nature click we did.
And here was the press release which was identical to the one that MST finally supplied us with and we published here: . Apart from the addition of the sentence ‘The site is yet to be determined.’ Last minute addition.
For Release on Friday 16th September 2016
Mulberry School for Boys gets the Go Ahead from the Department for Education
The Department for Education has given the go ahead for the Mulberry Schools Trust, which operates in Tower Hamlets, to open a brand new Secondary School in East London. The school called Mulberry School for Boys will be a state funded Free School and will be an non-selective school. [Our emphasis]
Seems that The Press Release That Was Published Then Unpublished has now been really deleted from the MST site.
See? It must be true, it’s on the interwebs.
Part Two will be published when we can. We should warn you that Part Two will contain less cake. Sorry