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.
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).
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