Monday, July 06, 2009

Colfe's and Catford High

Defend Education in Lewisham reports that 60+ people turned up to a meeting at Goldsmiths last week to oppose the plans for a Trust linking together Goldsmiths and New Cross schools (Deptford Green, Addy & Stanhope and Crossways).

More worrying still though, as highlighted by Green Ladywell, is the proposal to link together Catford High with the local fee paying private school Colfe's. The consultation document summarises:

' The Proposal is that a partnership is formed between Catford High School and Colfe’s School: Catford High School would be a Colfe’s Associate School. It would remain a state school and have its own governing body, constituted outside the requirements of The School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2007, to include the Head Teacher of Colfe’s, and to allow Colfe’s to appoint other governors to strengthen the governing body significantly. The reconstituted Catford Governing body would report into the main Colfe’s Board, which would have responsibility to steer it and offer advice. The Catford Governing Body would have representation on the main Colfe’s Board and would take account of its views in deciding the strategic direction of the school and in making key operational decisions. Catford High School would change its name to reflect its aspirations and the new partnership'.

In other words, an independent fee-paying school will have a major role in running a community secondary school - it is not a mutual partnership, but one weighted to giving Colfe's the leading role. The assumption behind this seems to be that Colfe's must be a good school because of its academic record and that this will magically rub off on Catford High. But the reason why Colfe's performs so well is because a) it is much better resourced and b) it selects only the most able pupils to attend. I'd like to see them them get such great results with the same intake as Catford High and the same funding and staffing ratios.

But of course this proposal won't challenge their intake - they will just siphon off a few of the more high flying students for bursaries ('The partnership will produce a regular flow of academically gifted bursary candidates into the Colfe’s Sixth Form') while retaining the basic social apartheid of one school for the well-off and one for the rest ('Colfe’s and Catford High pupils would not be taught together').

It is unclear whether Colfe's will financially benefit directly from this deal - there is no mention of money changing hands - but in the long term the financial benefits could be enormous. This is because the Charities Commission is finally getting round to querying the dubious charitable status of independent schools - charities largely for the benefit of the more affluent which enjoy all the tax perks of more genuine charities. As the consultation document states 'The partnership will enable Colfe’s to satisfy many of the criteria of the Charities Commission in respect of pubic benefit, most notably in respect of the provision of means-tested bursaries.' In other words to retain their lucrative tax status.

Consultation closes on 22 July 2009.


Eleanor said...

Question: Who runs Colfes?

Answer: Leathersellers

Question: Who won't join the campaign against Leathersellers taking over Lewisham Bridge Primary School?

Answer: The Green Party

Defend Education in Lewisham has always argued against the hard federation governed by Leathersellers precisely because we know that it would open the gates to them taking over other schools in the borough. The Name of the Game is privatisation. Unfortunately the Green Party bought the smokescreen of secondary school places and have never supported our campaign which it turns out is also Catford High's campaign.

In the words of Pete Seeger "When will they ever learn?"

Parents have a meeting with the local authority on Monday to discuss our views on bringing the children back in September. It would be great if Sue Luxton would exercise her right as my ward councillor and attend in support of our campaign.

Anonymous said...

Colfes Accounts are overdue according to Companies House website - either this is a sign of very poor governance or they are holding out for something they can use to evidence of their charitable status.

Anonymous said...

after so many years of living in the peoples republic of lewisham, I have managed to finally dig the last microbes of dust from the sole of my shoe. reading this just reinforces my pleasure at no longer living or breathing there.