Lanfranc is latest Croydon school in fear of academisation

GENE BRODIE, our education correspondent, wades through the morass of educational half-truths to investigate why private education is quite so popular in Croydon

Archbishop Lanfranc School badgeThis week’s latest Ofsted tables of school performance by borough showed that Greater London performed especially well. With a few notable exceptions. Such as Croydon.

Fifteen London boroughs were in the Top 20 for the percentage of their secondary school students attending good or outstanding schools. Seven out of the nine local authorities where all secondary students attend good or outstanding schools are in London.

But Croydon does not appear even in the top half of the boroughs’ league table. Croydon languishes at No 104 in a list of 151 boroughs. Croydon is the bottom of the London boroughs.

This is rather troubling after all the political spin from the Town Hall that greeted the summer exam results.

Nationally, the top 20 boroughs were:

School tables 1

Other London boroughs worth noting performed as follows:

School tables 2 (1)That means that 31 per cent – almost one-third – of Croydon’s secondary school pupils do not attend a school which is considered to be at least “good”.

As noted in previous reports, even those schools which are considered “good” by Ofsted, such as the academy at Crystal Palace that is run by the Harris carpet baggers, do not look quite so good when you actually analyse their figures.

That doesn’t stop political party hacks such as Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell claiming, “GCSE results a tribute to hard work of pupils and teachers – and the policies of our Conservative Council”. Will Barwell now be claiming the credit on behalf of “our Conservative Council” for only 1 in 3 of Croydon’s secondary school pupils being in a “good” state school?

Of course not, and it is just as unlikely that Barwell will be resigning from the Whitgift Foundation and the board of governors of the Foundation’s £12,000-a-year private Trinity School to resolve the possible conflicts of interest.

After all, if Croydon’s state secondary schools were truly thriving, would local parents see any need to consider paying tens of thousands of pounds a year to have their children educated privately at schools run by the Foundation and receiving millions of pounds a year in public subsidy through tax breaks?

Croydon’s  state schools meanwhile also have to live in fear of “academisation”. Fear is not a good framework for effective teaching and learning.

While local schools have their Christmas decorations up and prepare for the last week of term, in the corridors outside the staff rooms around the borough, there are whispers over which of the academy chains will be allowed to get their teeth into Lanfranc School.

It is Lanfranc that has taken so many of the borough’s most challenging pupils and produced some real value, despite working in a building which is slowly sinking into landfill.

The school now faces change:

  • The heroic Head, Dave Clarke is to resign
  • A new building is to be built at public expense – thus making the school attractive to the circling academy chains
  • But how many pupils will be required to “leave” in order to improve the results for the sake of any incoming academy?
  • Where might the “inconvenient” pupils – those with English as a second language, or with special educational needs, for instance – be displaced to?

Meanwhile, Tower Hamlets celebrates its phoenix like rise up the league tables. A rise driven by strategic planning and vision and by cooperative working between schools.

It is not poverty that is holding Croydon back, but a complete lack of ambitious vision by those who run our council.

If inner city, East End Tower Hamlets can do it, why not Croydon?

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2 Responses to Lanfranc is latest Croydon school in fear of academisation

  1. Congratulations to many London Boroughs on being so near the top of the league. Croydon continues to suffer relative large cuts in funding from central government when compared to similar London Boroughs and I wonder if that is being reflected in the results? Also the second table are all south London Boroughs of mixed political control. Is there a common factor that leads to their poorer performance?

  2. Education has a long “business” cycle – children come into the system at 3 or 4 years of age and exit at 16 or 18 years of age. That process works a lot better if there is a long-term consistent strategy.

    Sutton benefits massively from the long-term cross-school working that happens at all levels. The borough is educationally poorer than Croydon and in the late 1990s it cash-starved its grammar schools to the point where their funding was below that necessary to put one teacher in front of 30 children, but that incredibly tight management of resources and long=term strategic planning has produced excellent results.

    It is also important to look at environment. Sutton just feels less “brutalist”; estates like Roundshaw have been completely redesigned to create much more socially cohesive areas. Meanwhile Croydon are building masses of high-rise accommodation with very little public play space – that is going to have an impact on child development which will impact on school results.

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