Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

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custardy
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Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby custardy » Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:13 pm

Went into the library this morning (Sat) with my young son to change his books and to look at the ARK / NSC info on the new Academy.

On the way out my path was blocked by a very aggressive campaigner from the anti-school group. She was actively stepping into my path as I tried to walk out. I put my head down, walked round her and said "no thanks not interested". (I am interested in these issues, but I wasn't interested in a discussion in the street when my son was running ahead of me). Next thing I know she is getting very stroppy and directing loud comments to me about everyone has to pitch in no matter what "their situation is" and "this is a very wealthy area". I was fuming. I found it so incredibly rude - she made an instant assumption that I would be some massively wealthy, have-it-all mother who didn't care about spending cuts, library closures, money being spent on the new school.

If anyone who campaigns on these issues is reading this, please note that you won't be making friends and gaining supporters if you're going to shout at people in the street and make very public assumptions about their views, their income and their motivations. Hectoring people and telling them they live in a wealthy area is not the way to go.

Oh, and next time you see a mother on her own with a young child running ahead of her in the street, please don't try and block her path!!
Goldhawk
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby Goldhawk » Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:38 pm

It was probably someone from this group on FB

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=gro ... 7416247995
Laura&Lottie
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby Laura&Lottie » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:59 am

Well said ! I had much the same experience, I tried to engage in conversation with one of them to genuinely find out more and got little more than a "people like you" tirade in return.

Appalling. Did little to help their cause. Next time they set up 'camp' in a certain area I suggest they leave their prejudices behind before attempting to gain the interest of those walking past.
janee
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby janee » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:30 pm

On behalf of Wandsworth Save Our Schools I would like to apologise if members of the public felt harangued. I would agree that one member of our group was "overly passionate"! The rest of the group did take her to task for it.

The majority of the group were polite and respectful as evidenced by the number of members of the public who did stop, talk to us and also sign the petition.

That said, I do sympathise with people who are angry that the Council has over £100 million in reserve funds and will spend a minimum of £13 million in order to provide a school which is not necessary (over 1000 surplus places in secondary schools and approximately 40 % of Chestnut Grove students come from out of borough). At the same time, still insisting that they need to save £100,000 approximately by closing York Gardens Library.
The links to the Library consultation and petition are:
http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/site/scrip ... akecomment
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6457921/York%20 ... tition.pdf
MGMidget
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby MGMidget » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:32 pm

My DH got cornered by a 'rather aggressive' campaigner outside the libary too as he was walking past. He took a leaflet home - I'm a bit sceptical about some of their claims in it and how well they did their research or understand the situation!
custardy
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby custardy » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:46 pm

JaneE - thanks for the acknowledgement that some of your group's campaigning style was a bit OTT. Definitely something to bear in mind for the future!

Just for the record, I agree that the York Gardens closure plan is an utter disgrace. The Council clearly thinks that all residents will be completely self-interested, and as long as the library nearest to them stays open, we'll let York Gardens sink.

I would be happy to see an increase in my council tax directly related to keeping this library open. I also think the Council have been disingenuous about how easy it would be for those using YGL to go elsewhere, but that applies to people living near Northcote library, we could easily go to Balham or Lavender Hill.

People who live in or near Northcote Rd do care about York Gardens - please don't let members of your group assume that if you live in Northcote you are just a "Yummy Mummy" who couldn't care less - you may find that lots of Northcote residents could add some really helpful weight to the campaign against the closure of York Gardens if you engaged with them properly!
Virgil Tibbs
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby Virgil Tibbs » Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:14 pm

JaneE - can you tell me where we can find out about the number of surplus places in Wandsworth - you say in excess of 1,000? The figure I have heard is about 350, half of which relate to the Catholic schools, so only about 175 spare in non-VA schools. And yet you think there are over 1,000 spare places? Thanks.
LauraBrown
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby LauraBrown » Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:02 pm

Hello there. I was also involved in the demonstration about the proposed free school. Apologies if people felt harrassed - I guess it is a topic that many of us feel very strongly about. I totally understand the concerns about small children wandering off as I had my 3 year old helping hand out leaflets :) If there are any questions regarding the information in the leaflet, I'd be very happy to answer them. The key sources of leaflet information are set out below for those interested (hopefully my links will work!):

1. Only 27% of Northcote ward children aged 11-15 are currently educated in Wandsworth state schools (this is from a council report - see page 17 of http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/moderngov/ ... x?ID=11818)

2. Only 6 (out of the 500) 11-16 year olds in Northcote ward are currently educated at Chestnut Grove (see page 18 at the link above)

3. This is despite it being just over a mile away from the proposed new school site, rated outstanding by Ofsted and the ninth school nationally in last year's league tables for contextual value add

4. There is a common misconception that Northcote residents would struggle to gain a place at Chestnut Grove on distance grounds. Of course, if all of the children leaving Honeywell and Belleville suddenly applied, there would not be enough space. However, last year's furthest distances where pupils were admitted are as below (bands A-E represent a banding of year 6 aptitude test results with A being the 20% with the highest scores):

A = 2.6 miles
B = 2.3 miles
C = 1.7 miles
D = 1.5 miles
E = 1.2 miles

(see page 23 of the booklet that you can download here http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/downloads/ ... chool_2011)

We are asking the Council to make a full assessment of where school places are needed in the Borough and plan accordingly to meet needs. I can entirely understand why local parents would like a school in Northcote but it does not necessarily seem the best use of £13million in a time of limited resources and I think it is up to the Council to demonstrate why the school is most needed in this area in particular before spending such sums.

Happy to discuss other thoughts!
Laura
Virgil Tibbs
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby Virgil Tibbs » Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:36 pm

Laura - I too got set upon by your little gang on Saturday, is that how you like to go about your business, blocking people from trying to get into the library on their day off? I happen to favour the school, as do some other 2,500 local parents I believe. Thats a lot of supporters isn't it? Your own flyer says that only 27% go to a Wandsworth state school - I would have thought that proved the need for the new school as much as anything else? You seem to be saying that we should go to Chestnut Grove school. That is in Balham, not in the Northcote ward, where we have two of the largest primary schools in London. Chestnut Grove school only gets 49% of pupils achieving 5 A-C grades inc english and maths - you appear to consider that good enough? This compares to Graveney at 71% and the local private school at 97%. I think it is a good thing that a new local comprehensive school will be offered that will take some of the pressure off the likes of Graveney and offer parents a greater choice. The ARK school brochure says that they aim for 80% for every child - I for one am all for that. In terms of the price, I am told that a very large amount of money will be spent on two other borough schools that will not add as many pupil places as the new Bolingbroke Academy will - I am not really too sure what the real basis of your objections are, but if it is to do with money, then shouldn't you be more worried about the amount that is being spent at these other two schools where hardly any pupil places are being added? People making up their mind about this should be wary of your own hype, never mind that of the 'privileged few' as you label the 2,500 parents. The parents behind the school campaign are to be THANKED for trying to do something positive about the shortage of state school places in the borough, as opposed to your group who seem to enjoy bullying and intimidating people.
LauraBrown
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby LauraBrown » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:19 pm

I am sorry you felt set upon, not our intention at all - I thought the tone of the protest was generally pretty jovial. We even spent some time outside with Katie from ARK discussing her views alongside our own with various people who were interested in a debate and it was very encouraging that she was willing to listen to both sides too. I'm surprised that people were intimidated by a group that included a 3 year old and a 2 year old generally hanging out; playing hide and seek in the phone box and helping hand out leaflets! It is interesting that you think Balham is too far away for a school for children in Northcote - walking a mile seems a fairly reasonable school journey. I live in Tooting and my nearest non-selective mixed school is also Chestnut Grove and it is even further away for me! The fact that people in Northcote do not currently support our local outstanding school is a shame. I have high aspirations for my children and would be very happy to send them to Chestnut Grove given what a fantastic school it clearly is and I know of several people in Balham whose children attend the school who are extremely happy (and saddened by the fact that others are not willing to give it a chance - have you had a chance to look around the school to see for yourself?). Individual parents will always want to do what they think is best for their children and no-one can question that urge. I would, however, question whether responding to a particular group who are campaigning in the interests of their own children is the best way to allocate resources across Wandsworth. More choice for one group inevitably limits the choices for others and it is up to the council to find compromise between the desires of everyone in Wandsworth to get the best for their children. Incidentally, the £13million is to purchase the building - I don't think figures are currently publically available on renovations, equipment, running costs etc.
custardy
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby custardy » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:27 pm

Laura - your co-protestor Jane E has already acknowledged that one of your group took things too far. I was not intimidated, I was angry that someone chose to block my path (when my 3yo was running ahead away from me), and saw fit to lecture me about the wealth of the area etc when I had simply stepped away from her far-too-full-on approach.

You may all have been having a lovely time, but your reputation as a group hung for me on the behaviour of that individiual. I didn't notice anyone else from the group stepping in to apologise or tell her to tone it down when she was having a go at me about getting involved.
Virgil Tibbs
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby Virgil Tibbs » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:47 pm

Laura - The clear spike in population means that a solution must be found, and so to open a school in a part of the borough where none exists makes sense - not just to me but a lot of other people as well. We used to have several schools in Northcote but they have long since shut down. Just because we are largely middle class doesn't mean there is less of a need or that our opinions are any less valid than others does it? Where do you think the extra places are needed? Also, I queried the stat on the number of surplus places, plus why you think 49% is outstanding and also what you though about all the money being spent on the two other state schools - it is interesting that none of these points have been directly addressed by you or Janee.
LauraBrown
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby LauraBrown » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:51 pm

I am happy to acknowledge, as JaneE has, that there was a small amount of over-zealousness. However, having been there the whole time, I think it would be misleading to suggest that the group were trying to stop people from going into the library, block the pavement or intimidate families with small children in any way. I was mainly responding to another poster who stated that our group "seem to enjoy bullying and intimidating people".

I understand where you're coming from regarding your own experiences Custardy and I guess everyone will draw their own conclusions from how they felt they were treated by individuals on the day. We are all a pleasant, non-threatening bunch really so hopefully if you run into us again, you will see that side next time.
custardy
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby custardy » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:10 pm

The thing is Laura, your group's Facebook page states: "Draw your own conclusions about why the affluent parents in this area are unwilling to support existing schools and are pushing to create their own..."

Your group clearly assumes that everyone who lives in Northcote ward is affluent and pushy. This just makes your group look as if it has a chip on its collective shoulder. Many people bought houses round here a long time ago, we didn't all shell out £1m. Some people have different situations, there are even (shocker) single parents round here too you know.

Some of your points have a lot of relevance and certainly have given me pause for thought about whether the council is rushing into the Academy plan without properly assessing standards, places, needs, choice etc. I think you would do better to drop the statements about affluent parents and their pushy behaviour and focus on value for money, availability of places and standards in schools. You make good points about money being spent at a time of cuts.

However, I agree with the post above about 49% getting A-C not being a measure of excellence - so it would be great to hear about why CG is such a good school and one that people should be looking to choose.
LauraBrown
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Re: Anyone else get harangued outside Northcote Library today?!

Postby LauraBrown » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:12 pm

To Virgil Tibbs: Chestnut Grove is rated outstanding by Ofsted - extract from the report which sounds pretty good to me:

"Chestnut Grove School is an outstanding school. The school has very successfully created a cohesive and welcoming community for students from diverse backgrounds. The specialist arts status of the school has contributed to its creative and colourful cultural environment through highly imaginative displays of students' work. This stimulates students to develop greater self-esteem and higher aspirations. They are proud of their school, know that they are valued, and appreciate all that the school can offer them. One parent reported, 'I am very happy with Chestnut Grove and think what makes it work is the enthusiasm and dedication across all subjects!'

Students make outstanding progress in relation to their starting points and achieve average standards by the time they leave the school in Year 11. An excellent pastoral system has resulted in outstanding personal development and well-being for all students, good behaviour, and significant reductions in exclusions. The school has developed an outstanding and responsive academic and vocational curriculum that includes the specialist subjects. This motivates students to attend and enables them to make excellent progress in their studies during their time at the school."

I mentioned that we do not know the figures for the full cost of Bolingbroke Academy so it is not possible to compare with the BSF plans elsewhere. I would welcome the opportunity to understand the comparisons so I hope that information is made publically available at some stage. JaneE has the information on surplus places in the Borough so I can't help you there. Middle class opinions are just as welcome as all opinions in my view - the Council's role should be to provide impartial analysis to make decisions.