Local primary school is top of the class in reading

image002Ark Conway Primary Academy, a primary school on Hemlock Road, was last week praised in ‘Reading: the next steps’, a report by the Department of Education which sets out evidence on the importance of reading and progress being made across the country.

The school was highlighted as an example of a school successfully improving literacy and getting results. Pupils at Ark Conway achieved an incredible:

  • 100% pass rate in the phonics screening check at the end of Year 1 – well above the national average of 74%.
  • The school is also ranked joint first in the entire country for its results in reading – 93% of pupils achieved the highest test levels by the age of seven.

These fantastic results have been achieved through a whole-school focus on literacy and the use of Read Write Inc., an innovative programme to teach phonics where pupils learn the combinations of letters which make all the different sounds, and how to combine these sounds to make words.

The school focuses on more than just results and works hard to encourage a love of reading, with initiatives such as ‘Drop everything and read’, where everybody in school reads for 10 minutes uninterrupted every day. Pupils recently celebrated World Book Day. The school was filled for the day with superheroes, gruffalos and wizards amongst others, and children took part in a book swap and read to each other.

Executive Headteacher Damian McBeath, who is also Executive Headteacher of nearby Ark Bentworth Primary Academy and Ark Swift Primary Academy, was recently named as one of the ‘Education Reformers of the year’ by the Education Foundation for his inspiring leadership and achievement of pupils in a new school.

On Ark Conway’s achievements Mr McBeath said:

“It’s fantastic and gratifying to see that all the hard work and effort of our children and our teachers has produced such incredible results. Every child is working above the national average, whatever their background. Our focus on English will give our young people the solid foundations they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

 Zaia, a Year 1 pupil, said:

“I like reading at school and phonics lessons because we get to write interesting letters and do some interesting writing. I like reading and I’m getting better and better. I loved the book Jade’s Party because she got the wrong bag and ended up with a jumbo pack of nappies!”

 James Burrell, a parent with children in reception and year 1, said:

“”It’s been a great excitement to watch Grace and Tarka’s love of reading grow in their time at Ark Conway. Its phonics programme ensures they are becoming confident and curious readers, while enabling us to support their learning at home.”

 Richard Welsh, Phonics Lead at Ark Conway, said:

“I’m incredibly proud of what the team have achieved in both results and creating brilliant lessons that have enthused all the children to making such amazing progress. Seeing the children progress so quickly and gaining such confidence in their reading has made the role all the more worthwhile.”

More new free schools for Hammersmith and Fulham

arkburlprimHammersmith and Fulham continues to lead the way for free schools.

In September we will see the opening of the Ark Burlington Danes Primary. It is confirmed by inclusion on the list of free schools published this morning.

There was also news of the following:

TBAP 16-19 Academic AP Academy in Hammersmith

This school will be the latest addition to the successful Tri-Borough Alternative Provision (TBAP) chain of schools and will be located alongside the Bridge AP Academy in Hammersmith. The free school will offer the International Baccalaureate to 16- to 19-year-olds who may not succeed in mainstream sixth forms, but have the potential to go to university. Students will be supported by a rigorous mentoring program that will help them meet very high academic standards.

For too long Pupil Referral Units were just (very expensive) places to dump excluded children who had been disruptive in mainstream schools. The system would write them off.

That is not the approach of Seamus Oates, the inspirational Executive Headteacher of the TBAP Trust. It’s not just that he does a good job to turn things round for the children at the Bridge Academy. It’s that others can be held to account.

The challenge becomes: “If it is possible for excluded children sent to the Bridge Academy to flourish academically then why should that not be possible for excluded children placed in alternative provision elsewhere.”

Free schools have represent a revolution for choice, innovation and high expectations. They have helped to drive up standards.

What a terrible thought that in May we could have a Labour Government that would be hostile to such schools and threaten this progress.

Barons Court Project to hold open day

baronscourtpicThe Barons Court Project, based at 69 Talgarth Road, announces an open day on March 14th from 11am to 2pm:

“We are inviting you to come along to our project to see how we work with members of the community who access our service. Members of staff will be on hand to show you around and to answer any questions you might have. Delicious homemade refreshments will be available to buy from our Café.”

The Project helps the street homeless and the mentally ill. Their Manager Michael Angus described their work in a post for this site here.



Council leader’s Capco meetings – those “minutes” in full

cowanThe Labour manifesto for the council election made the following pledge about meetings between councillors and property developers:

“Labour will not only publish when the meetings take place but we will also list all who attended and publish the agenda and minutes.”

What has been the reality?

capcoA meeting on February 10th with the Council leader Cllr Stephen Cowan and representatives from Capco offers the following as the only “minutes”:

“Discussions took place regarding Earls Court in the context of the manifesto aims, benefits to residents, the conditional land sale agreement and the potential for revisions to the masterplan.”

Then there was a single note about three other meetings with Cllr Cowan and Capco – on September 16th, December 9th and January 27th. The “minutes” for all three meetings offered the following wording:

“Discussions took place regarding Earls Court in the context of the manifesto aims, benefits to residents, the conditional land sale agreement and the potential for revisions to the masterplan.”

Groundhog Day. So far as we can tell exactly the same was said at all four meetings.

The dictionary defines “minutes” as a “detailed (although not verbatim) record of business transacted.”

If you believe that Labour are publishing a “detailed” record of the business transacted at their meetings with property developers then you will believe that they have kept their manifesto pledge.




Why is the Council delaying new homes in Goldhawk Road?

Joy Nichols MBEBusinesswoman and Shepherd’s Bus resident Joy Nichols has got in touch about delays trying to redevelop a site on the corner of Goldhawk Road and Hammersmith Grove.

She says:

“I have owned  95 Goldhawk Road since the Doctors vacated the Grove Health Centre back in the late 1990s. I used to run an employment agency there.

I have had a long history of trying to engage with the Council to creating a better structure for my rundown site.  In fact its been over 10 years since I commenced my application to create homes on the site.  I have had nothing but obstacles put in my way from the council.

In 2013 permission was eventually granted (subject to Section 106) to build 9 flats with ground floor offices.  In 2011 the council agreed to sell me a tiny piece of land and a narrow strip of the pavement that would greatly enhance my scheme.  These pieces of land on their own is of no use to the council in fact it cost them money to maintain.

IMG_2023Although both the council and I have engaged our respective valuers to see what a fair price would be for the land (Lambeth Smith Hampton on the council’s part),  the council has been dragging its feet ever since.  

I have been told that the agreement to sell must be authorised by  the Cabinet.  Each time I am told that my case is to be discussed at a Cabinet meetings it has not happened.

Over the past months I have written to the Deputy Leader complaining, I have emailed Lisa Homan requesting her intervention and last Friday I tried to arrange a meeting to discuss this with the Leader.  I am awaiting a response to the possibility of this meeting being granted.

I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating and stressful this has been.  

I have offered an eye watering £450,000 for the pieces of land that can just about accommodate two park benches and the Council have been thinking about it for years.  In the meantime my eye sore of a building remains undeveloped and is a magnet for rough sleepers.

The danger is I may have to withdraw that offer to purchase the land because my source of funding has been treading water for so long and is not available for much longer.  I was told that the Leader could make a decision because of the situation but having spoken to the responsible officer was told that that avenue is blocked.”

The little scratch of land is of new use to anyone at present. The proposal would make the area more attractive as well as providing new homes and reducing council debt (and thus interest payments which is still where a big chunk of Council Tax goes).

I have asked for an explanation for the delay.