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Urban primary moves out of town

29 June 09 15:09 GMT
By Alison Smith
BBC News education reporter

A south London state primary school is to buy a building in the home counties to give its inner city children a better education.

Durand Primary in Stockwell wants to become an "all-through Academy" for pupils aged 3-19, with those over 13 attending a state boarding school.

Chair of governors Jim Davies said a residential setting outside London would give pupils a better education.

But he also said knife crime in the area was a contributory factor.

"There is a concern about gangs and knives in the area," Mr Davies said.

"But this is very much a secondary issue. We want to teach our children in a better environment where they can take part in physical activity - some of the sites we are looking at have 30 acres.

"I believe that this does help drive up results," he added.


The school, situated in a deprived area of south London, has an intake which is 95% black or ethnic minority, and half its 900 pupils are entitled to free school meals.

The foundation school caps class sizes at 22 pupils, employing more teachers to keep the pupil-teacher ratio down.

And it also streams pupils in each subject according to ability.

The school says that these two aspects ensure those pupils who are finding a subject difficult get the attention they need.

Ofsted rated it as outstanding overall.

Mr Davies says there is just not the space anywhere in south London to provide the "kind of facilities pupils at Eton and Harrow have access to", says Mr Davies.

He says the first two years at secondary school are where some pupils may be held back or lost altogether if they failed to settle in, and the progress made in primary school could be lost.

Blurring the distinction between primary and secondary would help alleviate any such problems and continue to provide the same standard of education, he said.


Under the plans, which have been approved by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, children aged 13 and above would be driven to the new school on Monday morning, and return to their families on Friday evening.

Mr Davies said he believed children of 11 were too young for boarding school.

Parents have been very supportive so far, he said, though some were anxious about the idea of their children boarding.

The school is currently looking at four different sites for the boarding school, and the most likely option is the purchase of a failing independent school.

Once the Academy is open, children aged 11 will attend a middle school in Stockwell.

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