The simple truth is the Lewisham’s education system is failing many of our local children.
We have pockets of excellence but on average our schools’ performance GCSE is well below the national average with the worst perfoming school running at almost half of the national average. Our children are no less bright than any others so it is the local educational system which is failing, not the children.
On top of this underperformance far too many of our children are forced to go outside the borough because of a shortage of secondary school places and those lucky enough to get a place at all rarely get their first choice school. This means that some children have to travel miles to get to school and sometimes siblings are split and attend different schools.
My plan for improving the educational attainment of Lewisham’s children is simple, firstly I would give much more autonomy to head teachers and I would support them in their attempts to maintain discipline in their classes. Secondly I would dramatically increase the number of school places in the borough, I would do this by both increasing the number of schools and the number of places within the schools.
The council has secured a £180 million grant for school improvement which I applaud. I would ensure that this money is spent effectively, precisely targeted, fairly distributed and not wasted.
The priority of building would be for a new secondary school in the North West of the borough. Brockley, New Cross and Deptford have many young couples and the population growth in these parts of Lewisham means that the shortage of school places will only get worse. I will not stop there, a new school will help now but we will be in the same position again in ten year time if we do not plan for another new school now.