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New Schools (Croydon)

Volume 489: debated on Monday 9 March 2009

3. What recent progress has been made on the establishment of proposed new schools in the London borough of Croydon. (261292)

The local authority in Croydon has consulted on transformational plans for its educational provision, which include the establishment of three academies to replace National Challenge schools. My Department is working closely with the authority on those plans. There are also plans in the borough to amalgamate an infant and junior school; that is currently being considered by the schools adjudicator. London challenge advisers are supporting school improvement in six secondary schools and 13 primary schools in Croydon through the Key to Success programme.

I thank the Minister for that answer. On academy plans for Croydon, what attention will he pay to the capture and continuation of the best of the predecessor schools, and to transferring any good traits to succeeding academies? I am thinking especially of Haling Manor high school, which has just been named the most improved school in London by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. What consideration is given to minimising disruption, for example in the case of Ashburton junior and infant schools, which have already been subject to a destabilising merger with another primary school? There were also three different succeeding plans and proposals for amalgamation on the Ashburton community school site, creating an all-the-way-through, four-to-18 school. That is an important issue for my constituents—

I met my right hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North (Malcolm Wicks) and the leader of the Labour group who, in a pithy way, made the same sort of points to me last week. Haling Manor school has shown improvement generally over the past few years, but there is still a lot more to do in respect of English and maths. Given the comprehensive performance assessment rating that Croydon council has recently received, I am not confident that that is the right body to provide the support that that school needs, which is why I have approved the move to academy status with one of the strongest sponsors that we have in the academies movement, the Harris Federation.