DOWNHAM: Primary school set to merge with academy

News Shopper: Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock agreed to proposals to merge the two schools Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock agreed to proposals to merge the two schools

A LEWISHAM primary school is set to merge with an academy to create an all-age school.

Merlin Primary School in Ballamore Road, Downham, will merge with Haberdashers’ Aske’s Knights Academy in Launcelot Road, Downham to form the all-age three to 18 academy.

Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock agreed to the proposals at a Mayor and Cabinet meeting in Lewisham Town Hall on September 15.

More than 400 consultation documents were distributed to staff, parents, teachers, residents and school governors but only 23 written responses were received by the council.

The majority of people were in favour of the new school, which is set to open in January next year.

Haberdashers’ Federation chief executive officer Dr Elizabeth Sidwell said: “We really are pleased the Mayor and Cabinet have approved our proposal. There are still some processes to go through. There is still work to be done but we look forward to bringing it in to being.”

She added: “The main reason is an educational one to smooth the transition. If we can make sure a child doesn’t have a dip and can move forward with staff who know them, their education can improve.”

The school will remain on the same site and will be the primary section of Haberdashers' Aske's Knights Academy.

Funding will come direct from the Department for Education comparable with funding received by maintained schools from the local authorities.

Lewisham National Union of Teachers branch secretary Martin Powell-Davies said: “We regret the labour council hasn’t realised the government wants to use academies to tare apart local authorities and they will see the mayor’s decision as encouragement.

“There is absolutely no evidence academies improve the standard of education.”

He added: “Our concern is that it’s a gradual breaking up of local authorities which started slowly under the local labour council.

“The danger is it will now accelerate under the coalition government.”

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