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New Secondary Schools for Bromley

There is a critical shortage of secondary school places in the Bromley Borough, currently estimated at 8 forms of entry in 2017 rising to 19 forms of entry by 2021. Bromley Council have a statutory duty to provide enough school places for every child in the Borough. In response to this shortfall 3 new secondary schools are currently proposed, with a likely need for a fourth.

This article outlines our response to those proposed new schools and we invite comments about these plans. It is an issue very much of concern to parents of children who will need a secondary school place in the next 4 years, as well as of concern to residents near to the sites of the new schools.

Eden Park High School, Beckenham

Eden Park High School

The council have just (25 Jan) given planning approval for this school, based in Beckenham, it will eventually provide 16,000 places. Run by the Multi Academy Trust E21C, the first intake will start in September 2017 in temporary accommodation at Ravensbourne School. The new building will open in 2019. The school will have playing fields, reasonable access and good transport links.

There were some concerns from some local residents about traffic. However on balance we feel this is a good school in a good location and we are inclined to support the new school

Bullers' Wood School for Boys, Chislehurst

Bullers Wood School

The Council narrowly turned down a proposal for a Boys School in a chaotic council meeting on 25 Jan, despite widespread support in the local area and 452 applications for places at the new school in the next academic year. The main reasons for rejecting the proposal were concerns about traffic congestion and safety in the local area. We expect the school to apply again, but this is not confirmed.

This school would be an independent comprehensive Free School, with 6 forms in each year and would be set up and run by staff and governors from the girls' school of the same name. The first intake would have been accepted in 2017 in temporary buildings near the proposed site on St Hugh's Playing Fields (although this timescale may not now be achieved).

In general we feel we should support this school, it will be linked to a school ranked outstanding by Ofsted, and it has broad support in the area. The issues of traffic and congestion on local roads and junctions around the site already exist and the Council have failed to tackle them. A proposed travel plan including a pedestrian crossing in Bickley Road could improve the situation for everyone.

SHaW Futures Academy, Westmoreland Road, Bromley

SHaW Academy

The planning application for this school has not yet been submitted to the council, although public meetings have been held to discuss the proposal. It will be located at the corner of Westmoreland Road and Masons Hill.

The school will open in 2019 and will provide 180 year 7 places (1,260 in total). The school will be an academic and vocational establishment with links to local employers, specialising in science, health and wellbeing (SHaW), giving pupils a mix of academic and technical education with support from a number of employers in these fields.

In general we support the concept of the school, but feel that the location is totally wrong, It is a tiny footprint for such a large school, it will mean another tall building with no playing fields and limited outside space and is in an area already suffering from high levels of air pollution. However, we do appreciate it is extremely difficult to find a suitable location and this location is already owned by the Department of Education.

One of the advantages of this school is said to be the excellent transport links but this area is already hugely overcrowded at rush hour, and is only to get worse when the new blocks of flats are completed at St Marks Square. This may be an opportunity for the council to re-think the layout of this busy and dangerous junction in terms of traffic, cycling and buses. We will certainly be scrutinising the planning documents as soon as they are published.

So in summary we acknowledge a school is needed, there is a shortage of suitable locations, the concept of the SHaW school seems a good one but we have serious reservations about the location.

We will examine the planning application carefully once it is submitted and report back.