Local news for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets

London Dock secondary school, some facts, some opinions, some clarification

By on November 19, 2016 in London Dock school, Schools

In an attempt to provide everyone with the same information this post is a round-up of all the currently available information Love Wapping has managed to gather about the proposed secondary school on the London Dock site.

It is by no means comprehensive but it will hopefully help all involved. The information comes from a variety of sources, some are facts, some opinions, so we have labelled these as such.

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Facts

  1. Tower Hamlets Council role in the Tobacco Dock school decision making process is restricted to specifying the type of school and provision that is needed, to seek expressions of interest, to state a preference and then pass this information on to the ‘Regional Schools Commissioner’. This post is currently held by Dominic Herrington.
  2. All new schools are ‘free schools’ or Academies by law. If an existing school wishes to sponsor or open an a new school it needs to first become an Academy itself.
  3. Mulberry Schools Trust is believed to be open to the new London Dock school being mixed and the Council expects (wishes) any school on the site to be ‘diverse’ in its intake.
  4. The Council cannot enforce this expectation as parental choice and demographics will determine the nature of the school.
  5. Other schools in the area will also state their preference for school provision at London Dock.
  6. The meeting at Raines House organised by Mulberry was not part of any formal consultation process.
  7. The Council has not issued any formal invitations to bid for the London Dock school and no invitation to bid has appeared on the Department for Education or Education Funding Agency websites.
  8. Cllr. Julia Dockerill (Conservative, SKD and Wapping) sits on the Council’s Overview & Security Committee and has asked for a ‘direct investigation’ of the process of free school site allocation and is also talking to the Department for Education about this.
  9. Cllr. Denise Jones (Labour, SKD and Wapping has stated for the record that there is no conflict of interest between her role as a Councillor and her position as a Governor of Mulberry school. As part of her role as a school governor she has been assisting with the school’s informal consultation with parents about the possibility of Mulberry opening a new school on the London Docks site, and whether parents would prefer it to be a boys school or a co-educational school. “Although residents know I am a councillor, my role at the meeting was as a school governor. If I had been acting as a councillor my considerations would have been wider.” [LW emphasis]
  10. Mulberry Schools Trust did publish a press release announcing that the Department for Education had given the go ahead for it to open a brand new Secondary School in East London, Mulberry School for Boys, which would be a non-selective state funded Free School. This press release was later removed from the Mulberry Schools Trust website in contrast to other news releases published. The reason for it being removed is still unclear.
  11. Concerns have been raised by parents regarding the high levels of traffic pollution at the London Dock site.

Opinions and beliefs

12. Having the cabinet member for education at the Raine House meeting and a Mayoral adviser confuses people even though they may have attended in good faith and with no particular agenda.

13. There is a common often unvoiced belief that a single sex school would reinforce concerns regarding the way that the Council is dealing with providing segregated education. The specific concern is that the Council will allow the wishes of Bengali parents for single sex schools to hold sway over the wishes of the wider community for a mixed school.

14. In turn this concern regarding segregated education in the Borough will reinforce the perceptions that some schools in Tower Hamlets are almost exclusively for children of the Muslim faith. Many parents, of all faiths and none, do not want their children to go to a school which is perceived to be – rightly or wrongly – a ‘Muslim’ school.

15. Parents who feel they do not have a wide enough choice of secondary school in the Borough may send their children outside the Borough to be educated at fee-paying schools if they can afford to do so. This potentially further exacerbates the polarisation of school choices in Tower Hamlets.

16. At least two other groups in addition to Mulberry Schools Trust are interested in the London Dock site but are being stonewalled by the Council. The identity of these two groups is not known. (Please get in touch!)

17. An open competitive tender for the provision of the London Dock school should be run but events so far are neither transparent or open.

18. The lack of clear and accessible information regarding Mulberry’s activities has exacerbated this situation for which Mulberry Schools Trust and the Council must share the blame.

19. Tower Hamlets Labour Party wants Mulberry to be the London Dock schools provider to please existing parents – or existing voters if you prefer.

For more information

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