Harris determined to build primary beside polluted A23

The Harris Federation, established by a carpet salesman to run a chain of academised schools, seems determined to push ahead with establishing a primary school on the Purley Way, on a derelict site alongside one of the busiest roads in south London, where air pollution has been measured at levels dangerously in excess of legal limits.

Eight pages of Harris brochure, and not a word about air pollution levels near the school

Eight pages of Harris brochure, and not a word about air pollution levels near the school

Croydon’s planning department recently rejected plans for a four-form-of-entry Harris primary on Purley Way because they advised that the site of the former Red Gates school was too small for a school supposed to accommodate more than 700 children.

Undaunted, Harris was leafleting households in South Croydon over the weekend, in doing so announcing that their school will be opening in September 2016, initially housed in temporary huts, with the permanent-built school due to be ready a year later. The eight-page brochure invites applications from parents of children to start next year, but makes no mention of how many pupils the school will be catering for.

Despite the obvious traffic and pollution issues for a school located alongside the A23 Purley Way, Harris intend to have a catchment area extending well beyond Waddon and into central Croydon.

“We would aim for children to be able to walk to school due to lack of parking around the site,” they state, without any mention of how they might prevent parents driving their children to a school with a potential for 1,000 additional car journeys daily on that stretch of the road. Maybe Wing Yip, the Chinese superstore across the busy main road, will oblige by letting parents drop off kids in their car park?

The Purley Way primary will be “twinned” with Harris’s Haling Park secondary academy. The new primary building provided at tax-payers’ expense by Croydon Council will, Harris state, “…be bright, welcoming and spacious…”. Which sort of contradicts the council’s own planning department.

Earlier this month, Inside Croydon revealed exclusively that the school proposal, for it to be built not far from the Waddon Leisure Centre and close to the often grid-locked and heavily polluted Fiveways junction, had been switched from Oasis to Harris, but council officials reported that “a 4FE [four forms of entry] school would be over development of the site and would not be supported primarily due to transport related matters”.

Harris may well now be proceeding with plans for a slightly smaller school – three forms of entry would still mean 540 pupils on site, plus staff – although how this would address the “transport-related matters” flagged up by the council planning department is not mentioned in the Federation’s leaflet, which promises “everything an outstanding primary school could need… high-quality indoor and outdoor play spaces”.

“This is the perfect setting for Reception children starting school,” claims Harris’s publicity bumpf.

The brochure fails to mention whether gas masks will be a compulsory part of school uniform for the young pupils exposed to the Purley Way’s air pollution.

Harris is staging consultation coffee mornings, especially convenient for parents and residents who work for a living, on Thursday November 19, from 9 to 10.30am, and Wednesday, November 25, from 10 to 11.30am at Harris’s Haling Park primary academy (50-58 Haling Road, CR2 6HS), and information evenings staged at Waddon Leisure Centre on Monday November 23 (7.30-8.30pm) and Thursday November 26 (2-8pm).

The school website is available by clicking here.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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4 Responses to Harris determined to build primary beside polluted A23

  1. This plan is nothing short of criminal.It denies modern toxicological research that proves air pollution DAMAGES children in VERY many ways.It denies the negligence of Croydon Council in failing to measure its pollution accurately.It denies the recent mortality rates found in Croydon.

    Film and report launch from CleanAirLondon
    Coincidental Telegraph article;
    Mapped: Where is air pollution killing the most people?

    “Clean Air” Sutton councillors hang your heads in shame,as for Croydon’s air quality monitoring,AWFUL AND IRRESPONSIBLE.
    Rail commuters go into the worst air in Europe for their working day,and then pay the price.Drivers sit in congested roads,behind illegal engines.Children walk to school in dangerous air.At their head height the levels are X3 those recorded at monitors (if they were working and correctly sited!)

  2. Lewis White says:

    It is a fact that there was a very good school just a few hundred metres to the North West on a very fresh-air filed site at the Western foot of Duppas Hill, just abut 15 years ago. It was a senior school, Heath Clark.

    Guess what–the building footprint is now a housing estate!. Flogged off by a shortsighted Croydon Council I think. The playing fields are still there, thankfully, and are grass–and are used mainly by dog walkers.

    What a waste of an existing education site WITH good amounts of green fields for the students to run around on !
    Maybe the remaining Heath Clark site could become super new primary school, well away from the A23. A nice new screen of trees along the Duppas Hill frontage (possibly soon to be where the Waddon Flyover descends to Earth) would give an anti-pollution barrier to filter the air.

    All children should enjoy open air and a view of grass and trees. Not breathe in the filth along the A23!

    We owe the Croydon Planners a thankyou for turning this Harris proposal down.

  3. veeanne2015 says:

    Whatever Harris wants, Harris gets – regardless of anything else, and now, presumably they want yet another feeder school for their secondary schools.

    The Harris Federation is very good at spin and propaganda.

    Never mind that the disappearance of so many GCSE pupils was blamed on their moving away, but other schools in the north had full or nearly full numbers.

    Never mind that lower grades have been blamed on a lower ability year, although schools were called ‘failing’ because of this.

    Never mind that the 2011 DfE Performance (League) Tables showed that a very high percentage of the much increased 5 A-C GCSEs including English and Maths were not 5 GCSEs at all, as parents believed, but B.Tecs.

    Was the omission of these details in 2014 tables due to advice from Daniel Moynihan, as academies in general and Harris Academies in particular were showing such large reductions in the GCSEs only table ?

    I wonder if the amount of Council/Government taxpayers’ money spent on new/refurbished buildings, facilities and equipment at Harris Academies in Croydon has yet reached £200 million?

    You won’t find this sort of information in glossy and sometimes inaccurate brochures.

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