Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Swanage School

This posted by Carl Styants on Education Swanage Facebook page
(Hope you don't mind me posting here, Carl)
3:58pm Aug 9

Unfortunately we were advised last week by the landowner of the former Swanage Grammar School site that his offer of part of this land for The Swanage School has been withdrawn and that the site is no longer available to us. Clearly this is very disappointing and a big setback but we have been aware that dealing with the owners carried risks and have always considered alternatives.

We can report that Swanage Town Council, a strong supporter of The Swanage School from the outset, has this week resolved to help us look at using the Lower Grammar School Field site to the north for the school, which could be built next to a new St Mary's school. We have no intention or wish of preventing St Mary's building a primary school on the site. The site is large enough to accommodate two schools and there may be opportunities to share construction management costs and amenities such as parking.

The site, originally gifted to the town by James Day, is owned by Swanage Town Council under a 150-year lease from Dorset County Council. It is under a covenant held by the De Moulham Trust.

We are striving to ensure that The Swanage School will open as planned at the start of September 2013. The additional weeks needed for a new planning application would be offset by the weeks saved by no longer needing to remove asbestos from and then demolish the old Grammar School buildings.

At the moment we are at the beginning of discussions with lots of groups and more work is happening at the highest levels of the DfE. As soon as more news is available, we will let you know.


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Anonymous said...

I see from a notice in The Advertiser (2nd August) that plans for the new build St Mary’s School at Northbrook Road will be on display at Swanage Town Hall from 11:00 on Friday 10th August and all day on Monday the 13th. It would be good to see these and to try and picture how both schools will fit into what is currently a very quiet corner of Swanage. Hopefully a full site plan showing both schools can be produced in the near future.

As for Welfare Dwellings reneging on their agreement to donate the old Grammar School building to the town in return for planning permission to build a housing estate, what can I say except it strikes me as an act of very bad faith. No doubt they now want to fully develop the whole site for housing and use the recently granted PDC planning permission for 52 houses as a precedent.

Anonymous said...

The Section 106 agreement signed by the Welfare Trust can be read (in redacted form) on and it will be interesting to see if they try to wriggle out of their obligation to hand over the land got the school before starting to build houses, unless of course, they have simply decided that in the present climate there is no way they can turn a profit on the deal and prefer to put it all in the freezer for a few years.

sansom62 said...

Profit first, Education second.
How nice for the gentlemen concerned,

David Furmage said...

Well if the site is used for housing only , then it should be nothing else except affordable housing for locals. Please no more empty houses :(

Shame about the free school losing the site :(

Anonymous said...

The S106 agreement looks unambiguous and says they have to hand the school over before they can build any houses. No school therefore no houses. I wonder how they will get out of that.

Anonymous said...

As I understand things, the s106 agreement applies only to the current planning application. I would anticipate a completely new application being presented in due course which will seek to increase the number of total houses being built. The fact that permission has already been granted for 52 units is likely to work in the developer’s favour if – as I expect – any refusal of a new scheme were to go to appeal.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if instead of a school they have accepted an offer for the school site to be a POLYCLINIC?
I know I've learned to be cynical.

One who has 'been there' said...

'As for Welfare Dwellings reneging on their agreement to donate the old Grammar School building to the town in return for planning permission to build a housing estate, what can I say except it strikes me as an act of very bad faith.'

Indeed. PDC should explore its powers to revoke that planning permission.

'...they have simply decided that in the present climate there is no way they can turn a profit on the deal and prefer to put it all in the freezer for a few years.'

Quite likely.

'....The S106 agreement looks unambiguous and says they have to hand the school over before they can build any houses. No school therefore no houses. I wonder how they will get out of that.'

That is why companies and local government have legal teams. Since Welfare Dwellings appears to have withdrawn, I would expect that the deal to build is off. I wonder whether those parties affected can sue for lost money already spent or pledged? Or was this 'agreement' non-binding, which would have been a nonsensical deal upon which to rely.

'I wonder if instead of a school they have accepted an offer for the school site to be a POLYCLINIC?'

Anything is possible, but the developers would make more money from building a number of houses rather than one polyclinic on that site.

I wonder whether it would be prudent for ES and this givernment to push back thew proposed opening date a year, to get things right, rather than open before the 'actors know their parts' and 'the sets haven't dried'.? IMHO the date (9/2013) was always overly 'optimistic'. Then again, having launch this idea, to wait might kill some of the enthusiasm.

David Furmage said...

Just hope this has not killed the Enthusiasm already !

Anonymous said...

DCC forced James Day to sell the land to them in 1926 so that they could build the grammar school. When DCC reorganised the education system to a 3 tier the grammar school was closed and was no longer needed. The school building and land continued to be used by the community for sports, education and leisure. This land, when no longer required by DCC (for education) should have been returned to the original owner (James Day), or if not James Day, the second in line should have been STC - to be held in trust. How is it that every bit of land in this area was given by James Day for the benefit of the community of Swanage - to be held in trust to be used for education, sports, recreation. And yet this particular land was sold by DCC to a building developer and was lost to the community of Swanage?

Who is the owner of Days Home ??

Does all the James Day land have a covenant on it ??

No the enthusiasm is not waning - if anything there is more.

Is there any way that this land can be returned to Swanage - so that Swanage can decide how this land is best used.

One who has 'been there' said...

Judging by the relatively cavalier manner in which DCC treats most matters concerning Swanage and its ratepayers (the largest such group in Purbeck):

I rather doubt it.

Tumshie said...

Very disappointing. But surely it was always going to be a difficult path to tread when the land/buildings for the Free School were being provided through something as "flexible" as a s.106 agreement. Developers the country over have been reviewing/re-negotiating their agreements given the financial climate. Indeed Pickles has clearly stated that planning authorities should make it easier to develope land i.e have less onerous s.106 agreements. I'm afraid this just highlights the thi ice the free school project is skating on and does nothing to encourage me to send my children there - will there be an intake in Sept 13 or not? The Free School is not in control of it's own destiny and that is a problem. Sorry.

One who has 'been there' said...

If the Town Council does not give the land next to the new St Mary's to the Free School, then that is that.

I always thought the Middle School site was ideal........

It really is now up to STC.

Anonymous said...

"no intention or wish of preventing St Mary's building a primary school on the site"
But it isn'tbig enough for the two.
Why not use Herston fields
The NIMBY's can't object to a school can they?

Anonymous said...

Of course they can!

Plus the owners of Herston Fields want to make a mint building houses there instead - a la Grammar School site....

David Furmage said...

How about king georges ?

Anonymous said...

How could this go so far on the promise of a DEVELOPER ? Why were there no contracts ?
He may do well to remember the fate of Mr Durrant, the last developer who took on the people of Swanage.
And as for promises for those with a sense of humour.

One who has 'been there' said...

I find it astonishing that Education Swanage, PDC, Swanage Town Council and the DfEE would have gone this far with only a promise of intent, and not a binding contract, from the developers over this site.

Unless malfeasance on the part of the developer is established, it would appear that this whole scheme is doomed to failure before it begins.

I wonder how much due diligence Mr Gove's department took before committing to a free school for Swanage - to be open in such a short period of time.

I note that the website for the school has not been updated. I imagine people have more pressing things to think about.

I wish those involved well, but I cannot imagine this project coming together in under thirteen months.

Anonymous said...

As far as I know – and I am only an interested person on the outside looking in – Education Swanage have not yet secured a formal funding agreement from the Department for Education. No doubt someone with direct knowledge can confirm if they have.

Anonymous said...

"He may do well to remember the fate of Mr Durrant, the last developer who took on the people of Swanage."
Durrant was only following the planning policy of the day, ie to have a working harbour, which would still be very useful. We don't need a free school in Swanage, we didn't need a marina, but I hope PDC get it right this time and don't let the developer build housing before the planning gain materialises.

One who has 'been there' said...

'As far as I know – and I am only an interested person on the outside looking in – Education Swanage have not yet secured a formal funding agreement from the Department for Education. No doubt someone with direct knowledge can confirm if they have.'

As they have appointed a Head Teacher, they must have some basis upon which to establish a legal contract of employment. I would presume so. Otherwise the governing body will be personally liable.

Does anyone know how the school is legally structured?

Anonymous said...

What are you thinking of David? To suggest that, in Olympic year, King Georges playing fields, the premier dog walking site in Swanage, be handed over for development.

One who has 'been there' said...

I find it interesting that a Swanage resident considers dog walking more important than education.

Then again, it seems par for the course.

On a different note, regarding a building site for said school: what covenants are there regarding the former Forres School playing fields?

owner of swanage grammar school site said...

1st post of 2

I am a director of Welfare Dwellings Residential Care the company which owns the former Swanage Grammar School. I have read the comments on this page both from Education Swanage and others including anonymous postings.
There are of course 2 sides to every story and I would like to put our side so that the community can make an informed view.

The actual facts are as follows.

Over the past year we have invested a very substantial amount of time and money(£125,000) in this project. We would not have made such a commitment if we had no intention of proceeding with Education Swanage as that would be plain silly, as without the transfer of the school we cannot implement our planning consent so we cannot build anything. In fact we spent the time and money at our risk as at the time we had no assurances from ES or the Department Of Education that our school was going to be the Swanage Free School. In fact at no time have we been told 100%.

We have worked well with Education Swanage over the past year and finally achieved planning consent in March. The planning consent was for the refurbishment and extension of the existing school, 52 homes of which 26 were to be much needed affordable and the donation of land opposite to be used by the community as open green space. However shortly after receiving consent we were told by Education Swanage that it wasn’t actually feasible for them to refurbish and extend the school after all and that they were planning to put in a new planning application to demolish and rebuild the school. This came as quite a shock as they had had many months to tell us this.
Rather than consult and involve us in their application on our land they simply put in the application and told us the day after it had been submitted. We received no plans and the legally required planning notices that should have been served on us were not. In fact their architects signed a statement as part of the planning application confirming that we had been advised of the application in January 2012 which certainly wasn’t true.
A consequence of this is that their application did not include the housing part of our site. It only included the half that the new school was going on. Of course our planning consent included for the housing and the refurbishment and extension of the existing school.(not a new school) We were advised by both our architects and planning consultants that if Education Swanage obtained consent for a new school and implemented the consent that we would lose our consent.

There was no way that we could take such a risk so we asked for a value to be placed on the land and in return we would sell them a freehold interest in the land subject to their planning permission for a brand new school. Originally we were to transfer a leasehold interest in the school and surrounding land and we were in discussions with them on the term of the lease. In other areas the D o E have paid very substantial sums for land or existing buildings. Unfortunately we were unable to agree terms. We even suggested a rental arrangement.

Immediately after negotiations broke down we were told that they were planning to build the school on the other side of our land where the new Junior school is being built. The school can still be delivered on time and there could be cost savings through shared facilities. So it actually seems good news for the community and Education Swanage. This was the first we knew that a new junior school was planned on the adjoining site and was so far advanced. No one told us until a few hours after negotiations broke down. Had we proceeded with Education Swanage then our housing would have been sandwiched between a Junior School and a Secondary School which would have adversely affected the viability of an already extremely tight project.

owner of swannage grammar schhol site said...

part 2/2
I noticed that one blogger commented that developers the country over are renegotiating their 106 agreements in the current financial climate. Our deal was workable but you do not need to be a rocket scientist to work out that if you give half your land away on a lease, and then you are asked to give half the remainder for affordable, and then you are told that you have to purchase and donate several acres of additional land to the community and then you are told that you have to pay transport contributions to the community in respect of all the units including the affordable which you have already given away in the sum of over £250,000 that really there is not much left. And then you are advised by your planning experts that you will lose your planning consent if you transfer the land!

The loss to the community however is the much needed 26 affordable new homes as it seems the school will still proceed.

In fact the loss to the community is actually must greater than that as some may recall that our entire site was the preferred site for new housing with a high percentage of affordable after an extensive consultation in 2012. Due to circumstances that I will not go into here the site was deferred and so was the much needed social housing in Swanage.

I must say that Swanage Town Council, the planning department of Purbeck District council and the local Councillors have been very supportive and helpful with the project from the start.

Anonymous said...

That is extremely informative. I was a little surprised, however, when I saw the application for houses as I seem to recall that your organisation's response to the planning consultation was along the lines that 50% affordable was so onerous that no developer would be prepared to build housing. Now it seems that the sums can be made to add up. This seems a trifle inconsistent.

Anonymous said...

It sounds as though people have not been on the same page.

Anonymous said...

Well if Education Swanage go about their business in such a way, do we really trust them to run a school properly? Why on earth did they not keep Wellfare Dwelings in the loop?

Anonymous said...

I would hope the reason is inexperience, not guile.

But neither inspire confidence. The newly appointed head should have a word........

Anonymous said...

The new head is probably thinking "What have I got myself into?" poor bloke!

David Furmage said...

Well for one it would have playing fields, 2. No congestion would be cause by blocking roads and parking on pavements by the school runs 3. Would stop certain dog owners letting their dogs poo everywhere on that so called premier dog walking site. 4. Maybe the skate park could someday be incorporated into the school. 5. close to the beach for activities. 6. The river that flows past could be harnessed to power certain parts of the school.

J.Hissket said...

From J. Hisket. There are always 2 sides to every story and for education Swanage to be working on a complete new rebuild without telling welfare Dwellings, who were still spending their own money on plans for the old school,does not seem very fair.Also we will not get the social housing now. It does seem that the school building is past it's sell by date and surely the way forward is to use the whole site for housing on condition 50 affordable homes are guaranteed. 3gishargm

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I read the above entries by the “owner of swanage grammar school site” with a sense of incredulity. Whilst clearly it would have been at the very least good manners for Education Swanage to have run the new school plans past him before submitting them , I fail to see how not doing so was the basis for the whole agreement to collapse.

The original combined plans showed the school and housing development as two distinct plots within the same application. Extensive alterations and additions to the existing ex-Grammar School buildings were also shown. How on earth then would consent for a total new build school result in withdrawal of planning permission for the adjacent 52 houses? This simply doesn’t make sense and I fail to see how the District Councillors who are so keen to see the combination of affordable housing and the free school would tear up these plans.

The establishment of a new St Mary’s Primary School on the north side of the new housing development has been talked about in Swanage for several months and if the “owner of swanage grammar school site” only became aware of this in the last few weeks I have to seriously question his appropriateness as a local property developer. Clearly he needs to identify someone with even a modicum of local issues to help!

I understand that those closely involved with St Mary’s are EXTREMELY worried about the viability of building two schools on the lower Grammar School field – at least without unacceptably compromising on outdoor space. Surely a simple solution to this problem would be for a land swap to take place with the equivalent amount of land on the north side of the area earmarked for housing being swapped in exchange for the Grammar School plot. Is the “owner of swanage grammar school site” willing to consider this or is he only interested in expanding his housing development?

Anonymous said...

There is no way I'd trust the ES lot in the care of my children. It seems thay have brought this on themselves. I just hope that St Mary's get the new school they deserve without having to compromise on important factors such as their use of outdoor space, just so the FS can share the land.
As for the housing issues. If homes were to be built for local families then that would have saved doing the whole 'Purbeck review' on the schools as families would have been able to afford to live here. Thus filling the excess places in the schools. Just as Swanage Middle was gettig a good name for itself, they close it!
The whole thing seems to be a complete mess from the start. Perhaps DCC should have listened to local people from the start!

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps DCC should have listened to local people from the start!"

Indeed - but many local people want secondary school edcuation in Swanage, something that DCC officers (but not local Councillors) oppose. The fact that the plans to date for this have turned into a pig's breakfast is not all Education Swanage's fault.

Anonymous said...

The free school crusade has been based on bluster, bluff and hubris. Any attempt to make sense of how the whole thing was going to work was stamped down, everyone was asked to have *faith* and shut up and not ask questions, lest the bubble burst and the whole thing come crashing down. Well, now it has. What a staggerig waste of time and resources, creating division and bad feeling in swanage and rarely being even remotely to do with the kids.

Anonymous said...

While many may want secondary education in Swanage, there are many too who don't (and who are concerned about the impact that a free school would have on Purbeck).
It may not be all Education Swanage's fault, but it was rather foolish of them to bypass Welfare Dwellings in submitting new plans.
Have they received a signed funding agreement from the DfE yet? Nobody ever seems to answer that rather crucial question. It does make you wonder about the competence of those involved ( including the Government).

Anonymous said...

11:52 AM is entitled to his/her opinion but I completely disagree with it. The free school campaign has certainly been based on vision and even a degree of wishful thinking but nothing more sinister than that. Despite extensive opposition from DCC officers and certain staff at the Purbeck School, the plans have their full backing of the Department for Education who consider it a very good proposal.

There are enough children in Swanage to justify the creation of a secondary school. The fact that a number of current local parents are far from convinced at present is perfectly understandable given the on-going uncertainty. But is that reason to abandon the proposal entirely?

The ‘Purbeck Review’ was disgracefully skewed against Swanage. Despite its stated goal of increasing pupils at the Purbeck School and using Swanage numbers as part of this, the fact that it sought to redirect children from Sandford and Bere Regis to the already heavily subscribed Lytchett Minster School instead of the Purbeck School was particularly dubious.

Anonymous said...

It is not just a few staff at Purbeck School and officers at DCC who oppose the Free School. Many others do too including parents. However whenever anyone has tried to have their say against the school they have been shouted down as bad sports! Others just don't want to say anything for fear of being ostracised. I know nothing about organising a Free School but surely ES would have a team of advisers so why didn't they advise them to liaise better with the developers over this? Even I would have done that without a team of advisers!!!

Anonymous said...

There remains a suspicion that Welfare offered the old school for free without realising that the government is throwing enough money at free schools for them to be able to pay handsomely for their premises.

Does anyone know the going rate for the developer's margin on houses sold to housing associations? In this case the land was purchased long before the last value bubble so there is no reason they should not do well out of the deal. Conversely it has to be said that one the one hand PDC laments the lack of affordable property but on the other it is very keen to make development as expensive as it can. Joined up thinking would suggest incentives rather than hinderances even if they only want to meet their remarkably unambitious target of reducing the housing list by 20% over a period of years.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of whether a free school is feasible in Swanage or not, it is clear that the plans for St Mary's Primary School will be severely compromised in terms of the provision for their pupils. The plans for their new school on display in the Town Hall show a one storey building with plenty of outside space. If they are made to share the site with the FS (which is what Swanage Council have decided), the school will have to be 2 storey with very little of its own outside space.

The one common factor in the Free School's dealings with the owners of the Grammar School and St Mary's appears to be a lack of consultation. I heard that St Mary's were not told of the plans to share the site until after the Free School had done provisional drawings and dealt with Swanage Town Council (who had actually voted to release the lease to St Mary's some months ago but have now just voted to make this conditional on sharing the site with the FS).

Anonymous said...

These are the very same people who criticise DCC over their consultation not too long ago! St Mary's and their pupils are the real losers in all of this.

One who has 'been there' said...

Well, this will keep Swanage talking for a while!

Let's remember that there are people of good will trying to get something set up for the people of Swanage. It seems they lack a certain degree of business sense (or 'business cynicism') to spot the pitfalls ahead, however; relying a bit too much on good faith and good luck to rush this through.

Nickthefish said...

And the Town Hall meeting tonight what's that all about?

Anonymous said...

Asking Swanage people to support a New Secondary School is one thing. Asking them to support shafting St Mary's is another thing entirely. It's over Ed Swan, accept it gracefully.

Anonymous said...

As a parent at Swanage First I am more concerned that St Mary's or rather the Plymouth diocese are being given all this land, far more than they need for the 24-place school they were allowed by DCC. Are St Mary's planning to expand to 30? If they do that will kill of St Mark's. Then we'll be left with a great empty middle school site which will have been given away to another church. St Mary's and DCC have not consulted anybody in the town on any of this!

Anonymous said...

St Mary's are being forced to go back to the drawing board and to compromise on the education of their children. Good outside space is essential for Primary Schools. This will put them back several months and meanwhile they NEED to get on with building works before they have to keep Year 6 in 2013. They simply do not have space in their current building and are already forced to accommodate a class in the Methodist Church. On the other hand, Swanage DOES NOT NEED a free school.

David Furmage said...

Look at everyone starting to squabble amongst themselves like vultures around a dead carcass. What happened to that Swanage community spirt ? Why can't 2 schools share a plot ? You certainly see peoples true colours when the shit hits the fan. Let's all calm down , deep breath and let's see what happens first:)

So this meeting at town hall , is it about this situation ? Maybe we might find out if this meeting is about this some useful info.

Anonymous said...

Reasoned debate is not squabbling. "let's see what happens first" No, let's not. Public debate is crucial. Without it, we could end up with something that is totally wrong for the town. My main issue to date is that the free school supporters have tried to squash debate to hide the fact that Swanage is not entirely convinced about the benefits of their school.

David Furmage said...

And maybe that's why we might get answers if the meeting at the town hall is about this. So patience is what is needed and let's see what unfolds:)

Anonymous said...

Returning to the reasons why the owner of the Grammar School has so suddenly pulled out of the agreement with Education Swanage. As I read things this is due to the increased floor space of the new school design which will in turn require a reduction in building footprint on the housing development? If this is the case then one obvious solution would be to offer St Mary’s the Grammar School site. Their single storey plans would easily fit in there with outdoor space as well.

Anonymous said...

The meeting at the Town Hall today is a chance to see St Mary's plans for their new school at Northbrook Road and to meet the architects at 6.30pm

Anonymous said...

Plans that - as things stand - will have to be torn up...

One who has 'been there' said...

Education Swanage's website remains unchanged.

Anonymous said...

They don't seem to update it very often. Doesn't give the impression of openness and transparency.

Anonymous said...

Best way to hold this chat is on their Facebook group where you can ask them questions and discuss the issues with them =!/groups/206734756702/

Anonymous said...

Until they remove your comments and delete you from the group as they have done in the past. Which is why an alternative discussion group was set up here:

Anonymous said...

ES have still posted nothing on their official website about the loss of the Grammar school site. Maybe whoever updates the site is enjoying a holiday in the sun unlike the St Mary's staff who have no doubt had to cut their holidays short to come back and try to deal with the chaos that is unfolding!

Anonymous said...

The newly appointed Head Teacher of Swanage School must be in touch with his union.

Meanwhile ES seems to have gone into hiding. Looks like a massive blunder. Or worse.

How many parents are truly 'on board' with their sprogs? 30?

Anonymous said...

The owners of the grammar school site have posted suggesting that they have been kept in the dark and that the reason for the collapse of the deal is that their housing consent is at risk.

Education Swanage have not been directly involved in the negotiations, as it is the Education Funding Agency (EFA) who are responsible for the build. However we have been kept informed and have been in contact with the Henshers throughout.

The EFA (via its land agent Jones Lang Lasalle) had been trying to get the Henshers to agree Heads of Terms for the land transfer ever since the outline planning application was agreed in principle by the Planning Board at the end of March. They were told initially that the Henshers needed to concentrate on finalising the S106 agreement and PDC advised this would normally take 4 to 6 weeks. On that basis, the EFA decided it must press the button on starting the procurement process that led to Kier being appointed and the start of the detailed design and planning work.

In the event, it took almost 4 months for the Henshers to sign the S106 agreement with PDC and they continued to refuse to discuss the land transfer throughout. Two items seem to have held things up. Firstly a lengthly debate with Natural England over the precise specification of the SANG (site of alternative natural green space to mitigate the effect of the housing), which ultimately PDC persuaded NE to back down on. Secondly an attempt by the Hensher's advisors to negotiate a reduction in the standard level of transport contributions to DCC Highways in respect of the new houses.

more follows

Anonymous said...

Throughout this period, as the school design progressed and preparations were made for the detailed planning application, it was Paul Hensher (the son) that was ES's / EFA's primary contact, and he seemed to be acting in good faith, as frustrated by the delays as we were. He was advised by us back in April that the EFA's survey reports had shown the building was in a much worse state than anticipated and that it could not be saved. His response at the time was that he was not greatly surprised and thought we would end up with a better school design as a result. At no point in the process did Paul Hensher or his advisors request to be consulted on the design of the school and at no point did they raise the question of whether reference to the outline consent for their housing scheme needed to be included also in the detailed planning application for the school.

The Hensher's finally signed the S106 agreement in late July and the tone of communications changed almost immediately as JLL sought to obtain urgent agreement to the Heads of Terms and also for Kier to start work on removing asbestos from the old building in preparation for demolition. Paul Hensher was moved aside as primary negotiation contact by his father, David Hensher, who stated that there was no longer enough money to be made from the housing scheme to justify transfering the school land at nil cost (as specified by PDC in the original planning consent) and that he now wanted £1.9 million for the land. The only justification for this sum seemed to be a comparison to multi-million pound sums being spent by Dorset County Council and Poole Borough Council on other school building programmes in the county. A couple of alternative payment structures were suggested but all of them amounted to the same sum.

Repeated reference was made (and continues to be made) to the opinion of the Henshers' planning consultant that there was a theoretical risk to their original outline planning consent given the school design had changed to a complete new build. PDC planners therefore wrote to the Henshers to confirm that the intention of the Planning Board was clear and that they remained fully supportive of the proposals for a 50/50 mix of affordable and market housing on the neighbouring land. However the Henshers ignored this. ES even volunteered to work with PDC to resubmit the school planning application with the housing scheme included, to overcome the issue completely. Paul Hensher said they now had "other plans for the site".

In an attempt to break the log-jam, the EFA had JLL value the land as a development site for affordable housing, this being the only development route currently feasible for an exception site outside the settlement boundary, and factoring in the costs of demolition and site clearance. This final offer was refused by the Henshers and so EFA had no option but to pull the plug on further work on the former SGS site.

Anonymous said...

This is all very well and your word against theirs I suppose but what about St Mary's? You still haven't mentionesd that on your website. You also haven't mentioned, as was mooted at the meeting last night, that you have 'started conversations' with Harrow House and Allnatt Centre to be available to accommodate the new intake in 2013 if the new school isn't ready on time.

Anonymous said...

In case anyone following this blog is confused, the 14/08/12 9:08 am and 9:08 pm posts above are a copy of a statement by Carl Styants (an Education Swanage governor) on the ES Facebook page.

Anonymous said...

No doubt ES will issue an update on their position regarding the lower Grammar School site and St Mary's School in due course. However, despite all the accusations of incompetence expressed earlier in this blog, I have to say that in my opinion ES have acted entirely correctly and honourably in respect of their dealings with the owners of the Grammar School site. As some of us surmised, it’s ultimately all down to the property developers moving the goal posts and wanting to make even more money.

Anonymous said...

The St Mary's School website is also completely devoid of anything regarding their proposed new site and hoped for admission size:

Anonymous said...

That's not true - St Mary's have put their plans up for public scrutiny in the town hall - however those plans will now presumably have to be scrapped, as ES have greedily decided that they want to elbow St Mary's aside in their ridiculous drive to create several hundred school places that aren't even needed. Did these people even get what the whole Purbec review was about? The whole point was that there aren't enough youngsters, so running economically unworkable schools had to be ended, painful but true.

Seeview said...

Response to 9:35am

I don't agree.It appears that ES have been very secretive about the whole thing.They knew about losing the grammar school site for a week before posting anything here or on their facebook page and only then in response to a direct question from one of their facebook group members.They still haven't released any information about their (secret) arrangement to muscle in on the St Mary's site and appear to have had secret discussions with STC,Harrow House and The Allnatt Centre,again without posting anything on their own website or on their Facebook page.Excuses that they haven't had the time really won't wash - how long does it take to put a couple of posts on Facebook,a minute or two?

However good their intentions,they seem to be less accountable than DCC Ed Dept,which they criticised for lack of consultation and accountability!In my opinion they now need to be open and honest and provide the people of Swanage and surrounding areas with up to date and comprehensive information,so that people are well enough informed so that they can make a reasoned decision.As it stands ES seem to want to treat anyone outside the inner circle like mushrooms.

Anonymous said...

Sorry 10:13 AM but you are being very selective with your criticism. Like St Mary’s, Education Swanage have publicly published their plans (and a scale model) and held public open meetings. The argument about school spaces is just that – open to argument. The facts demonstrate that there are enough kids in Swanage and the surrounding area to justify an 11-16 school here. The Purbeck School would still be a viable, above average, sized school without that intake – particularly if they had the Bere Regis and Sandford children on board. Also the ‘Purbeck Review’ is\was outdated being based on the previous Labour government’s policy, withdrawn since 2010, to provide a large number of diploma lines.

It’s easy to criticise but I can see why there are no public announcements whilst detailed land and facility negotiations are still taking place.

Anonymous said...

The reason for the week of delay before admitting they'd lost the site was because they were behind the scenes getting friends on Swanage Council to give them part of St mary's land, all secretively and behind St M's back. Very shabby, very underhand. I'd love to hear their version of how this was achieved, I wonder how they'll masnage to sell that as part of their noble cause?

Anonymous said...

Is this new news?

St Marys aims to expand to 300 on its new (proposed) site. St Marks aims to expand to 325 on the Middle School site ??

How can both schools expand to these numbers ?

Anonymous said...

Maybe there are enough kids in Swanage and the surrounding areas to fill a school but I doubt there are enough parents who want to send their kids their!

Anonymous said...

Why do the St Mary's supporters refer to the field in question as "St Mary's land" ? It doesn't belong to St Mary's, it belongs to the whole town so it is entirely logical that STC should prioritise it's use for a school for the whole of Swanage. The site is more than twice the size of the site the Free School was working with, the lower eastern part being used for sports pitches and the higher western part for the buildings, so where's the problem with the 2 schools sharing it ? I can understand St Mary's being disappointed they can't have a huge site to expand on if / when St Mark's is squeezed out, but less of the "holier than thou" bleating please.

Anonymous said...

Finally an admission by ES that they don't yet have a signed funding agreement (as posted by Carl on their Facebook page).

Anonymous said...

10.26 it's not so surprising that they've kept discussions with Harrow House and Alnatt Centre secret. I would expect that to put a fair few parents off. Why on earth would anyone send their child to be taught temporarily away from the main school site when there is a school in Wareham where impressive building works are already underway? I know which I would opt for.

Anonymous said...

I am not a 'St Mary's supporter. I personally have nothing to do with the school. However, I can see that the way ES have gone about securing a section of the land promised to St Mary's, behind their backs, is wrong.

Paul Angel said...

As I'm sure most people will understand, all members of ES and our DfE advisors are working very hard to resolve this setback.

It should be remembered that although the public face of ES are local unpaid volunteers who have framed the vision for the school, we are supported by a huge number of DfE appointed professionals with experience in every aspect of opening a new school.

Unfortunately, as with any transaction, if one side delays signing contracts and then withdraws their offer at the eleventh hour, plans need to be re-drawn. Yes, we trusted the Welfare Dwellings Trust to deliver on their offer, but we were confident that a promise made in public would be kept.

ES have always made public as much as we possibly can about every aspect of the school plan, while respecting issues of confidentiality which inevitably apply when dealing with a project of this scale involving private developers, government agencies and local councils - and other schools. Some information can’t be made public immediately - it takes time to work through the issues.

For example, it was sensible to investigate the practical and legal feasibility of a shared site before broaching what has clearly proven to be a controversial subject with the school we hoped to share it with. As far as we were aware St Mary’s were still at the feasibility stage, as no public consultation had yet taken place – clearly St Mary’s were further down the line than that with a firmer set of plans than anyone had realised and the timing of our initial approach clearly caused offence, for which I apologise.

We are grateful for the many messages of support we are continuing to receive and can understand the genuine concern in the community. This is a huge project, and one worth continuing to strive for - research suggests that the lack of a local secondary school will lead to falling numbers of young families, with inevitable consequences for the future of our expanding primary schools.

Anonymous said...

Well said
Linda Welsh (I don't want to be anonymous)

Anonymous said...

You may not want a free school, but I and a lot of other people do and yes, we did need a marina as if has proved over the last few years when the bay has been empty of boats during easterly winds, when they could have been save in a marina enjoying our town. A marina would have regenerated this town and brought huge benefits in the way of trade for the shops and restaurants, chandlers etc, it was a missed opportunity, again scuppered by short sighted people who wants the town to die on its feet.
Linda Welsh

Anonymous said...

Why is there so many people unwilling to put their name at the end of their comments, although for ease I use Anonymous, I still put my name after the comment, please, if you have something to say, put your name down so we know whose saying it!!

Linda Welsh

Anonymous said...

Thanks Paul

Its good to receive some calm and reassuring news. I would like to say a big thank you to ES. Education Swanage have worked incredibly hard, supported by the STC, community groups and parents. As a parent I have attended all ES drop ins and the most recent open meeting at the Mowlem showing plans for the old Grammar School site. At this meeting there was also an opportunity to meet the head teacher. It was an inspiring meeting. Its very disappointing for us all that the landowner of the Grammar School has pulled out.

On this blog there are many comments about ES not being open. Personally I have found them always to be open and have always been more than happy to answer questions. From what I understand the ES group is set up as a co-operative and anyone can join.

I have nothing against Purbeck School, but living in Swanage I would like to choose a human scale, co-operative community school, in the same town that my family and friends live in. Also I think community is important. By asking questions of ES, I have learned that in addition to there being a core curriculum there will also be a local curriculum. This is where many of the supporting groups in the Swanage area are offering help for mutual benefit to themselves and the new school. There is a wide range of groups that are working with Education Swanage. For me, this is what makes this school special for my children. That the importance of community and relationships will be at the core. For me this is not about being negatively critical about other schools, its just that I live in Swanage and simply would like my child to attend a local secondary school.

AS a parent,a supporter of ES and the community of Swanage, I will continue to give my support 100% for a new secondary school.

If we all pull together we can achieve something special.

Anonymous said...

I take it that it has dawned on the owners of the site that Mr Gove is happy to throw very large amounts of money around to get his pet "free" schools built and they would like a cut.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a small but loud minority who for reasons i cant understand are against this school and are looking for it to fail at every turn, well to me the answers simple, if you dont like it dont send your children there and stop sniping.

With regard to the Marina it was not so much the Marina itself that was objected to but the loss of public rights of access, moorings and the handing over of Crown Estate to a private enterprise.
Also that no guarantees concerning the loss of our beach (a far more valuable commodity) were offered by the developer.

David Furmage said...

I am in full support of ES aswell , and wanted to send my kids to a school that's different from every other school.

Though this whole situation seems to be like a middle east war zone of Dorset. Religion , land comes too mind now. We have oil in Dorset only thing missing is poppy fields and apache helicopters.

I like this town cos it's got a strong sense of community and that is what will make the free school happen. Yeah it's a shame this situation has happened but sometimes we can't have it our way all the time and life is full of hurdles , though working together we can achieve so much more than personally finger pointing the blame on others. Let's hope and work to something that can put Swanage on the map :)

Anonymous said...

Not sure you can tell that it is a small minority. Same could be said of those that support the free school (around 4% return on their consultation wasn't it?)
Either way, time will tell. Parents will either chose to take the risk with their children's education, or not. It's their choice, as you say. It doesn't mean that other concerned Swanage residents shouldn't express their misgivings.

Anonymous said...

Well said, although don't totally agree with you on the marina, overheard in the supermarket on the day of the referendum, two elderly ladies, "I'm voting no, can't get a taxi now without waiting, what will it be like with a marina"!!!!! if residents voted on grounds like this and we did get a No vote, no wonder the town is falling apart in front of us and we are losing all our services.

Linda Welsh

Anonymous said...

Get a grip! The town is not falling apart. Some of you are overly dramatic.

Anonymous said...

Linda and David.
There are a variety of reasons why people don't put their names to posts, some of which are explained on the EDucation Swanage Facebook group. In the past, governors of the free school have made it difficult for some to engage in public discussions. In my opinion, this has create unnecessary divisions and bad feeling. It is such a shame that we can't all talk openly and freely ask questions without censorship. The good thing about this blog is that people can post anonymously, which means that they have an opportunity to voice an opinion. It gives us freedo, of speech.

Anonymous said...

Well said. In my view anonymity is a great strength - and not a weakness - of this Blog. There's no way I would be as candid as I have been if my identify was revealed! Also, I would have to say that 95%+ of the posts here are in the main objective and reasonable. There's also a good spread of opinion, e.g. pro Free School as well against.

David Furmage said...

Well you are one of 3 people. You kind of gave it away on FB lol:)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't trust my child with ES.... what qualifications do they have to run a school? Yes, The Purbeck School may be only satisfactory in its' last inspection, but that means it is performing on the average with other schools. With a new Head about to start I'm sure it will go from strength to strength especially as she is coming from an outstanding school. The new building program is excellent - you can see that by the refurbished technology block. A child's education is too precious a thing to risk.

Anonymous said...

David. I'm not a member of the Facebook group. I just followed the link posted and read your comment on there because its an open group. I haven't joined the group precisely because I want to maintain my anonymity. So there is.nothing to lol about.

Anonymous said...

I also happen to know that there are more than three people chosing to post anonymously on here!

Anonymous said...

"I wouldn't trust my child with ES"
Nobody is asking you to but let those that want the choice have it. Why are you posting on here ? we are happy for you to send your child to the Purbeck School if that is your choice.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
As a parent at Swanage First I am more concerned that St Mary's or rather the Plymouth diocese are being given all this land, far more than they need for the 24-place school they were allowed by DCC. Are St Mary's planning to expand to 30? If they do that will kill of St Mark's. Then we'll be left with a great empty middle school site which will have been given away to another church. St Mary's and DCC have not consulted anybody in the town on any of this!

13/8/12 3:55 PM

I am not sure how much land you think St Marys are being given but it is only approx 1/3 of the Lower Grammar School field. (Northbrook Road end). The bottom approx 1/3 is a flood plain and not appropriate for building or winter playing fields. The middle section, I believe is ok to build on. As for your question about numbers the architect informed us that the planned new classrooms are designed for 24 pupils. However, regarding your concern about St Marks, the DCC representative at the St Marys meeting last night said that the new St Marks building will be able to educate 300 pupils and they expect that amount on roll within the next 15-20 years. St Marys and DCC have consulted the town by displaying the plans over the last few days, unfortunatley through no fault of there own these plans may well have to change now. By the way, the plans have cost approx £40000 to draw up, this money comes out of the new school budget and if it has to be redone more money spent on plans rather than the building itself which directly affects our childrens education.

Tumshie said...

Is there a huge amount of negativity around the Free school or are we having a reasonable debate; the latter I believe.

In terms of transparency and communicating a message surely ES are banged to rights here - as a previous blogger mentions their website is not maintained and in 2012 how do we communicate news. Hmmm. Equally not everyone dopes or wishes to use Facebook.

The landowner in his blog of 12.8 @7.44 said ES had submitted revised planning application without discussion. Frankly if someone submitted a planning application for my land without letting me know I might be a tad disappointed. As many of you would.

No doubt much can be salvaged here and it will be a great thing for the town; maybe ES need to re-align their delivery programme and accept sooner rather than later that a new scholl will not open until Sept 14. However I can't afford my kids to be the guinea pigs for this experiment - there's too much to miss in life without a solid education behind you - and sadly I am not encouraged by the lack of transparency so the daily grind to Wareham beckons. Or I may win the Euro Millions.

David Furmage said...

Best post for a while :)

Michelle Nash said...

Statement Governors now available on St Marys website. Cut and paste below....

Statement regarding our proposed new site at Northbrook Road

On behalf of the governing body of St Mary’s, I would like to make it clear that we do not in any way oppose the new school planned by Education Swanage nor would we wish to stand in the way of its development.

We have however, in common with the other existing schools in Swanage, worked extremely hard for several years over the course of the Purbeck Review to ensure that the quality of education for the children of our community will be maintained.

In September 2013, our existing buildings will no longer be able to accommodate the entire school as we become a Primary school with seven year groups and we have no choice but to look for alternative sites for the school.

We have been in talks with Swanage Town Council and Dorset County Council over the course of the past year or more and we were confident that the Town Council would release part of the land to the North of the Grammar School land to accommodate our new building. It therefore came as a shock to us that Swanage Town Council would make sharing the site with the new secondary school a condition of our being able to use the land.

The advice we have been given would suggest that the site is not large enough to suitably accommodate both schools and it is mainly for this reason that we are at this stage not able to agree to sharing the site.

We will continue to work with Swanage Town Council, Dorset County Council and Education Swanage to achieve the outcome that is best for the children of Swanage.

Oliver Christmas
Chair of the Governing Body

Anonymous said...

So it would seem that ES didn't give St Mary's the courtesy of talking to them about possibly sharing the land before making a request to STC, who then made it a condition of using the land. Poor St Mary's. After months of hard work, they suddenly discover that they must go back to the drawing board.
The question is now, did ES mislead the meeting at the Town Hall on Monday when Helen O'Connor said they simply wanted a conversation with St Mary's about sharing the site?
Perhaps someone fromSTC can shed more light.

One who has 'been there' said...

In some sort of parallel universe, I would plump to retain three tier education in Purbeck, and instead spend money to improve what we have.

However, we must not stand in the way of progress. It 'knows what it is doing'.

J Selman said...

Totally agree. J Selman

Anonymous said...

Interesting reading about schools admission process:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

“However, we must not stand in the way of progress. It 'knows what it is doing'.”

But is this progress? Is removing the last vestiges of secondary education and forcing ALL 600+ children in Swanage over the age of 11 to have to travel a minimum of 10 miles by road to school progress? Is giving the current “satisfactory” Purbeck School a virtual monopoly progress?

Yes I know that the Purbeck School is in the process of ‘raising their game’ – that’s good but in my opinion this has been part driven by the prospect of having to ‘compete’ with a new Swanage secondary school.

I also appreciate that a large number of parents of what would be the initial intake at ‘The Swanage School are sceptical and even opposed to sending their children there. Who can blame them? But is it right that the concept should be completely rejected and abandoned altogether? OFSTED statistics show a higher percentage of ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ grades amongst smaller schools (i.e. less than 500 pupils). Swanage could potentially one day have a school as good as this:

Sadly, the Education Swanage people have pursued their goal in the face of opposition from DCC Children’s’ Services and. They – and the long term prospects for the town – deserve better.

The Postman said...

Difficult to follow all that's going on here. Have deleted a comment by JButterworth that made a severe accusation against a party. Can you be careful not to make serious accusations that might have legal consequences? I may need to delete any such comments, just to be on the safe side.


One who has 'been there' said...

9.41 Fairfield School in Hereford looks to be an outstanding model for Swanage School to emulate. But I stress the word 'emulate'. Having been involved with the start up of one school in the UK and a charter school in the US (both of which are flourishing), it took the first about ten years to achieve its potential and find its feet; the second is younger and still developing, thankfully in the right way.

The question is this: are parents prepared to risk their children's education while a school finds its feet?

In both cases I have cited, the answer is yes, and no. The ones who may take the risk are parents who 1) are uniquely connected with the concept of a local school; 2) may have children who will not thrive in a large comprehensive 8 miles away; or 3) have children with special needs. The ambitious parent may steer well clear until the new school is proven. The latter is natural 'parental nature' that the new Swanage School must recognise. The stories flying around at the moment are not a step along the path toward reassuring parents.

I am not aware that the Fairfield School has another local comprehensive in which all of its incoming pupils have a place reserved if their parents decide to take up that choice. Another challenge for the Swanage School to consider.

Key to the success of my two schools was to have the Head designate on board full time for the academic year preceding the opeing of the school, and to become a part of the community. Confidence cannot be built with no human contact; this will be the person upon whom this enterprise relies. I have 'been there and done that'.

Helen O'Connor said...

Hi, I would like to answer the question from Anonymous posted at 1.01AM 15/08/12. Anonymous asks, 'The question is now, did ES mislead the meeting at the Town Hall on Monday when Helen O'Connor said they simply wanted a conversation with St Mary's about sharing the site?'

From my perspective, the answer to this is no, I did not mislead the meeting. My role at the meeting was to listen and inform and my statements about ES wanting a conversation about sharing the site was genuine in the context of Monday's meeting. Regardless of what had gone before, and who had done or said what, my aim at the meeting was, and still is, to encourage members of the community to talk in a collaborative way, in order to investigate possible ways forward. In light of the meeting ES is reflecting on how we will move forward, I would like to encourage everyone to try and work together to resolve issues, rather than work in conflict. I hope that makes sense and addresses the question raised. Best Wishes, Helen

Anonymous said...

I found "one who has been there"s list of those to whom a free school would appeal interesting, but possibly questionable. 1 is obviously true. 2 I have trouble with. What difference does size make to whether a child thrives. I think that this becomes a problem if parents, consciously or unconsciously, structure the child's expectations and make size an issue. Thirdly, as regards special needs, it is hard to see how a very small school is going to have the resources and experience to deal with the enormous range of special needs that are encountered. If you have dyspraxia or dyscalcula for example another few hundred square metres of school is not important. I would have thought that, on the contrary, the larger the school the better. I am afraid writer implies that they are thinking of special needs only in terms of learning difficulties.

One who has 'been there' said...

3.57 My three criteria are based solely upon the experiences I have noted. I do not for one moment believe they apply to everyone in every school in every town. I threw them out as one view among many that needs to be considered, that is all.

One of the 'selling points' of the new school might be to develop a special needs unit that is first class. It is neither right nor wrong to think that a large school might excel in providing these measures - it depends upon that school. I cannot speak for the Purbeck School and its provisions - I will leave that up to others with more knowledge of that question.

(Am I the only person who finds the 'robot check' almost impossible to decipher?)

Anonymous said...

Click the reload button next to the box you type the code in until you get a legible(ish) combination.

Special needs departments seem to depend, as one might expect, on the calibre of the staff they attract. The Swanage school could be fortunate or it could end up running a child minding service and doing little for children with special needs. Why so many people seem to make wildly optimistic sassumptions about the likely performance of a school that does not exist and equally pessimistic ones about the future performance of one that does, is a puzzle. Since both would be educating the same students there is nothing to suggest one will be better at the job than the other. The focus on small size being a good thing stems entirely from the schools size being limited by the number of potential students in Swanage. If there were twice as many I think they would want a school for 800 so they are making a virtue out of necessity.

One who has 'been there' said...


Thanks for the advice about reloading!

I cannot quibble with anything you say. I can add just one point coming from decades of managing schools:

'The best schools are those with the greatest level of parental support.'

I will leave it to others to comment on that.

Anonymous said...

There are a very great many factors that make a school one of the best.

Parental support is one of them. It's also true to say that there are many highly successful, schools with excellent pastoral support that thrive despite being in difficult circumstances with disengaged parents.

The calibre of their staff, visionary leadership, a culture of caring and collaboration, resources and facilities and a commitment by all to give their very best all play their part in helping kids to thrive.

Anonymous said...


Rather a catchall list of everything, don't you think?

Can you name any school that has everything you mention? Is life that utopian?

Have you ever been a head teacher, a governor or a teacher?

Anonymous said...

Yes, all three.

Bit snippy?!
I don't think that my (brief) list was either 'catch-all' or 'utopian'. More the essentials for a good, or better, school.

My point was merely to say that things are less simplistic than that 'the best schools are those with the greatest levels of parental support'. That's all.

Some excellent schools enjoy great levels of parental support. Others are excellent despite not having such great levels.

Anonymous said...

'Bit snippy'.

Oh dear. Such comments from a 'head teacher'.

Anonymous said...

'Bit snippy'.

Oh dear. Such comments from a 'head teacher'.

The point of this post is ?

Anonymous said...

The point presumably...
That Headteachers shouldn't adopt such colloquialisms!

Or that they shouldn't comment on the snippiness of remarks designed to dismiss.

Either way, a bit snippy!

However diverting this is, perhaps we should return to the point of this thread.....

owner of swanage grammar school site said...

I have been reading the various comments with interest. One thing that has struck me is that there is clearly not universal support for the school. There does however seem to be universal support for affordable housing.

I read the comment from Anonymous at 9.08 on the 14/8/12 and this is obviously from Education Swanage. I think it would be helpful if they did not post anonymous comments. I would like to comment on a couple of their comments so that the community has an accurate account of what happened.

Firstly it is true that the signing of the 106 took 3 months to complete. All I can say is that there was absolutely no delay on our part. Our solicitor nearly always responded within 24 hours even when he was on holiday. ES have acknowledged that we “acted in good faith and were as frustrated by the delays as they were”.

The negotiations on the transport contributions did not delay things as they were carried out in parallel and in fact only for a couple of weeks. I do not think it is right that we are charged transport contributions on the housing that we are giving away but I do fully respect the policies that Purbeck District Council have. I employed a transport consultancy firm to prepare a report which we sent to Purbeck, the result of which was that transport contributions were reduced from £316,000 to just over £250,000. It was the later figure that was inserted into the 106, but I emphasise that there was no delay due to this. These contributions still included contributions in respect of the affordable.

It is also true that we would not finalise the heads of terms with the DoE and ES until the 106 had been signed. The reason is simple- no 106, no planning, and until we had the final wording it would have been foolhardy to proceed.

0wner of swanage grammar school site said...

As regards the potential loss of our planning consent (as advised by our two separate professional advisors) we did receive a helpful email from a senior planning officer at Purbeck District council which was much appreciated. I immediately sent this to our planning consultants but was advised (correctly) that it is not the planning officers who give consent and that our consultants had a similar situation in another council where the consent was lost and took 3 years to get back. The fact was that there was a real risk and this was brought about solely through the actions of ES.

An offer was made to us by the DoE but it was not acceptable. At that time we did check what the DoE were paying elsewhere which was substantially more.

I have worked very well with ES over the past year and they have obviously put in a great deal of time and effort into the project, as have we. There is no doubt that they think a free school in Swanage is the way forward and they are obviously doing everything that they can to achieve this. I must say that I was quite upset to receive an email from them almost immediately after the negotiations between us broke down which I think amounted to a very real threat against our organisation. The receipt of the email upset my father and I as we know they have a lot of power locally. It had the effect of souring our relations. It basically said that we should not underestimate their power locally and that they will do everything they can to prevent market housing on the site in the future.

Leaving our site undeveloped in the long term however with a decaying school does not benefit the community. If the new schools both go ahead on the adjoining land Swanage will have its free school. But it will not have any new affordable housing on the only site to have received a green rating and almost 80% support from local residents in the core strategy review. It would be a real shame for the community if ES use their substantial influence to prevent this in the future.


Anonymous said...

So why don't you and ES hand out the olive branch and get this free school back on track? If that is you are all grown ups about it. Like David Furmage stated in a post , it's like the middle east conflict of Dorset! Do the right thing for Swanage. Is it that hard?

Anonymous said...

"I was quite upset to receive an email from them almost immediately after the negotiations between us broke down which I think amounted to a very real threat against our organisation."

"It basically said that we should not underestimate their power locally and that they will do everything they can to prevent market housing on the site in the future."

Those are some really serious allegations. Are you going to give evidence to back them up?

Swanagedad said...

Many thanks for your update ‘Owner of the Grammar School Site’. I understand that the postings at 9:08 AM, on 14/08/12 were copied from the Education Swanage Facebook page by an unknown person and were attributed to Carl Styants, one of their governors.
Most of the District Councillors are very pro the proposed Free School and I think it highly unlikely that they would have revoked your planning permission had the new school build gone ahead

Notwithstanding the e-mail you received – which sounds completely unacceptable and which you should substantiate – are you adamant that no school building will take place on the old Grammar School site? As thing stands it seems extremely doubtful that two schools can be built on the lower grammar school field so in many ways you hold the key to resolving the present impasse and resolve both the school and housing issues. I would encourage you to keep talking – particularly to local Councillors and planners.

David Furmage said...

Hammer nail coffin , you have hit it bang on there. Though if this all boils down to money and it won't happen then we will never move on. For the sake of Swanage and future generations you like swanagedad says " you hold the key " Now show us that you can open the door.

Anonymous said...

The owners might 'hold the key' in so much as they have the land that's very much needed. However, if much of what has just been posted is true, then ES must accept responsibility for behaving somewhat immorally, in my opinion. It seems they went behind St Mary's back to broker a deal with STC before consulting the Headteacher at St M's too. A timeline of events has been posted here
At Monday's Town Hall meeting, apparently the Headteacher of St Mary's said she was emailed plans for two schools on the lower fields on Weds 1st Aug. This must have been after ES had written to STC as reference to it was circulated on their agenda for 6th Aug On 31st July.
Add to this, the fact that ES governors have attempted to stifle debate by banning members from their Facebook group when perfectly legitimate questions were asked, and they complained to local head teachers about school staff publicly debating the merits of a free school.
Yes, some of their mistakes can be explained by inexperience. However, if all that has been said is correct, it shows pretty poor character and certainly does not set a good example for a generation of children to follow.

Anonymous said...

A recent online petition “Purbeck people concerned about the negative effects of a Free School being opened in Swanage” contains 66 signatures of which 19 are staff members both Teaching and Admin of the Purbeck School. In addition to these are various noms de guerre and probable family members.

Should this petition not read “Purbeck School staff members concerned about the negative effects of a free school being opened in Swanage” ?

It seems to me that small but loud anti free school movement is led by employees of the Purbeck School.

Is this ethical ? I dont believe it is and will be writing to their employers asking for their position on this.
Does this set a good example for a generation of children to follow ?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Not sure you can tell that it is a small minority.

Because you continually whinge in the same sort of whiney, whingey way that whingers do. Get a grip, there is more to life than whinging - we live in a beautiful place. Purbeck School, is a great school so why not leave Swanage to try to also get a great school for its community. If you think this is such a bad idea and wont work then why are you so worried. And why do you keep whinging !!

owner of swanage grammar school site said...

I have read the postings asking for me to substantiate my comments regarding what we considered to be a threat against us by Education Swanage.I would be prepared to copy and paste the paragraph of the email but only if ES dispute what I have said. This is because I would not ordinarily post contents of an email on a blog to protect confidentiality.

Anonymous said...

Carl from ES here

The word 'threaten' is very strong. Actually the email contained understandable disappointment at the sudden moving of goalposts and an 'assurance' that ES would campaign against the site being reclassified for market housing, as indeed will many others. The Henshers dismissed a request from our group a couple of years ago and tried to develop the whole site. At the Core Strategy meeting PDC rejected this and supported the free school.

We would much rather be sitting around the negotiating table with the owners than answering accusations on Swanageview. Local opposition to the free school is very small compared to opposition to overdevelopment of sites outside the settlement boundary for market housing.

This is a chance for the Henshers to develop the site after many years of frustration and to make most people in Swanage very happy, even if they want sports and community facilities and don't care about the school.

Anonymous said...

Definition of threaten

State one's intention to take hostile action against someone in retribution for something done or not done

Seems perfectly reasonable terminology to use if the facts as stated by the owner of the Grammer School are correct.

Anonymous said...

Semantics: The meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, or text: "such quibbling over semantics may seem petty stuff"

Sounds like the sort of nit-picking the Purbeck teacher opposition get up to.

Whether you call it a threat or a promise, it's just stating the fact that the Henshers are not going to get market housing on their land without a fight if they shaft the community. Me and my family will oppose it too

Anonymous said...

I've just read all of the above thread and am amused at all of the righteous indignation and the way a very few (perhaps just a couple?) of people are claiming there is widespread opposition to the Free School. One person quoted 4% in relation to the school's consultation as evidence of this. But I've checked their website and 4% was the proportion of leaflets distributed that were returned ; as someone with a background in market research, I can tell you that anything over 1% for a survey issued in a newspaper is good. 4% is astonishingly high. And the key point (which curiously is not mentioned!!) is that 95% of those returned supported the school. Anyone who thinks cites their consultation results as evidence of a lack of local support for the school is manipulating the truth (who was it who said there are lies, damned lies and statistics?). The opposite appears to be the case: the consultation suggests that the vast majority of town wants to see the school go ahead. More power to your elbow!

Anonymous said...

A good point. 28 out of 245 responses in the consultation were opposed to the concept of the Free School.

Anonymous said...

Reading through all the posts, aside from the PR disaster that has developed from the news of losing the site it would appear that the whole project has come crashing down due to one aspect; available time.

It would appear that negotiations have broken down because one party wanted to carry on with the application process as quick as possible due to the fact that the school needed to be ready for the first influx of pupils in September 2013 and the other party were not in agreement and had been advised that the correct paperwork must be fulfilled before the process could move to the next stage.

This has meant in trying to rush the process, ES has compromised the most important aspect (the land for the school) and lost the trust of the land owner whom was giving the land for free.

The end result is we now have a school in concept, with a head teacher appointed and no school premises to build the school on.

This has now had the knock on effect of possibly compromising a successful school which needs to move to a new site for September 2013 due to the change schooling and the extra years it must now accommodate. Looking at the geographical location of the new St Mary’s site, it does not appear to be big enough to accommodate both schools without seriously compromising the outdoor space of both schools. It may well also have social implications as well, having 15-16 year olds in such close proximity (possibly sharing outdoor space) to 5 and 6 year olds.

Surely the best outcome from all parties involved would be to get ES and the Grammer School land owner back around the negotiation table and carry on the whole process in a manner such that both parties involved are happy with the progress. It must also be recognised from ES that meeting the deadline of September 2013 is unrealistic and postpone the opening of the school until September 2014. This would also allow time for sorting out other complex issues such as the use of Day’s Park and the car park as I’m sure this will cause some problems in the future as well.

Whether or not the whole project using the Grammer School is dead in the water, only the two parties involved can comment but the whole project was always going to be difficult due to the number of parties involved and the scale of the project. One thing is obvious though; it was important not to rush the process at any stage and it would appear that ultimately trying to meet the deadline of opening the school in September 2013 was the downfall of the project.

Anonymous said...

As they say, if you want an explanation follow the money. Mr Hensher has confirmed a point a made earlier in this discussion. "An offer was made to us by the DoE but it was not acceptable. At that time we did check what the DoE were paying elsewhere which was substantially more."

All the rest is wriggling.

Anonymous said...

Carl again, thanks for the recent posts.

Time has always been a huge factor. Most free schools try to open in one year and we had to get special dispensation to apply a year early. As we stated in our application this was to dovetail with the closing of the middle school when three years have to move en masse.

Our detractors may not believe this but as a group we have strived to cause Purbeck as little trouble as possible. We did not want them to have to expand to cope with a bubble of extra pupils in one or two years and then lose 400-odd in following years when the school opens. It also made sense financially as the school reached capacity sooner.

The owners of the site know they have no permission to build housing until the school opens, and it was in their interests to see it open as quickly as possible. They knew the schedule and what needed to happen by when.

Opening later is something we are discussing. We are also in talks with local organisations about using facilities temporarily. But no school can go ahead unless a definite site will be available at some point.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, practically with all project of this nature, size and complexity timing is in most cases the biggest hurdle. Having been involved with a fair few engineering projects (although none of this scale) rushing the planning process always meant that there would be a significant comprise or problem that would come up later in the project planning phase or execution.

I do believe that ES made the mistake of trying to rush it though, with the site owner, it would appear, wanting to following the correct paperwork procedure and completing one stage of the planning process before proceeding the next. Whilst it is in both parties interest to complete the project as quickly as possible due to a deadline, sometimes external factors dictate that the deadline cannot be achieved. This can sometime be fixed through negotiations by both parties and then both parties coming to an agreement. What is foolish is for one party, in this case ES, to carryon without the other as this then causes bad feeling, tension and also sends out a message of distrust.

I do hope that the process can restart in a timely manner without compromising external parties due to the mistakes made by ES. It would be pleasing to see a new secondary school in Swanage and give a better choice of schooling within the Purbeck area but at the same time it would be a fundamental mistake to compromise a successful primary school’s relocation in the process and at the same time compromise the premises for both schools.

One who has 'been there' said...

16/8/12 1:31 AM
Anonymous owner of swanage grammar school site said...

I have read the postings asking for me to substantiate my comments regarding what we considered to be a threat against us by Education Swanage.I would be prepared to copy and paste the paragraph of the email but only if ES dispute what I have said. This is because I would not ordinarily post contents of an email on a blog to protect confidentiality.'

If what you say is true, if I were in your place I would most certainly NOT be posting any such comments here. I would be talking to my solicitor.

Fighting what may become legal questions in blogs is foolish. In any event, any post here can be tracked back to the posters IP ... and right to the computer from which is was posted. This is not the place for any charges, accusations or worse that anyone would not be prepared to make face to face.

Your post makes me question if you really are who you say you are.

Anonymous said...

Response to 10:43am.

Well yeah,but that's life,I wouldn't expect anything else.After all,are you prepared to chip in £10,000 of your own money to ensure this project goes ahead?Do you know anyone who is?

One who has 'been there' said...

'One thing is obvious though; it was important not to rush the process at any stage and it would appear that ultimately trying to meet the deadline of opening the school in September 2013 was the downfall of the project.'

Moving the date assumes that 1) this Education Minister will still be in post; 2) same for this coalition government; 3) that the policy of opening New Schools after Sept. 2013 will still be in situ; 4) that funding will still be available. And so on.

To move it back a year (which I have proposed before) would run the risk of losing government backing and will send out a message that this school has had a hard birth.

In a way, the date is immaterial: they could start in a portacabin facility to accommodate the 30 or 40 who will be the first intake, and build around that. I do not know the numbers that will use SMS then, but perhaps part of SMS (with portacabins if necessary. School portacabins are not the builder's huts of old; many times they are better designed than many bricks and mortar building for school use) could be used for the new school while it is being built. At least SMS has the infrastructure to accommodate a small new school for a term or two or three; the building will be known to pupils and parents and, in an odd sort of way, provide the bridge to the new school. Just a bit of lateral thinking.

Seeview said...

Response to 12:52pm

Carl Styants post seems to substantiate this allegation,taking into account ES' different perspective.

I'm glad representatives of ES are being more open now as they did seem to be doing a bit too much behind closed doors,which has inevitably led to this debate,because this is a small community and in the modern world news travels fast and failing to communicate can often seem the greatest sin.This whole thing must be very depressing and frustrating for them,but I think if we're going to blame anyone it should be the government,because who posting here would give their land away if they knew the government was paying their neighbour 1.5 million for theirs?ES need to try and get the DofE to pay nearer the going rate.

I must say there's an awful lot of hypocrisy here regarding the landowners, given how much land is owned by local people in the hope that they will one day get planning permission for it and make a killing.

One who has 'been there' said...

Let me rephrase the last paragraph above:

In a way, the date the school starts is not necessarily under threat; they could start in a portacabin facility to accommodate the 30 or 40 or whatever who will be the first intake, and build the new school around that. I do not know the numbers of primary age children that will use SMS in September 2013, but perhaps part of SMS (with portacabins if necessary) could be used as the new school while construction continues. There is certainly plenty of land and playing fields at SMS for a short term share. School portacabins are not the builder's huts of old; many times they are better designed and equipped than many bricks and mortar building for school use) could be used for the new school while it is being built. At least SMS has the infrastructure to accommodate a small new school for a term or two or three with school portacabins; the building will be known to pupils and parents and, in an odd sort of way, provide the bridge to the new school. This would not be the first time this has been done.

Just a bit of lateral thinking.

The Postman said...

Word of warning folks. Do be careful in what you say/how you say it. If we stray into areas that potentially defame/libel people/organisation it might be necessary to delete the entire thread, which would be a shame if it stifles what could/should be constructive debate

Anonymous said...

One who has 'been there' said...

"they could start in a portacabin facility to accommodate the 30 or 40 or whatever will be the first intake"

Secondary age children in portacabins for a year (or more) when Purbeck School is only a few miles away with all the necessary specialist facilities in place or in the process of being completed (major building works are currently underway). That really will provide Swanage children who choose to stay in the town with a headstart in life at a time when it has never been more important to have good qualifications! While a desk and a chair may be sufficient for some subjects where will the facilities be that are needed for subjects such as Technology, ICT and Science?

One who has 'been there' said...


Temporary modular buildings are never ideal, but as I posted they are not the builder's huts of old. I have hired whole modular buildings blocks as a temporary Science facility while my school was building a new one; the units were joined 4 across and 4 over, with four internal staircases; there were four labs, one prep room, teacher's offices and three classrooms, as well as toilets and a first aid room. Each unit came equipped for one of the three branches of Science: Physics, Chemistry and Biology. There were absolutely no complaints from teachers, pupils or parents; in fact everyone thought they were a huge improvement over the old facilities being rebuilt.

These are not cheap to hire in the short term, but like everything else (including a delay to 2014 opening) they will add cost and so must be factored in. One advantage is that the builders can be held liable for an extension to the letting of the portacabin classrooms should they not make their target for completion and snagging.

I attended a university in the Midlands and studied in buildings centuries old; living in the 'New Building' built in the 1730s; I studied in a library built in
1450-1480. I received a brilliant education, even in those antiquated buildings. I can assure you of this: those teaching modular building would be far superior to the original idea of refurbishing the old grammar school building. (not my former school!)

Andy Speake said...

I thought that parents and friends of TPS may like an update with regard to the refurbishment works going on at TPS over the summer, especially in the light of the news that The Swanage School is currently experiencing difficulties with regard to a site for their school.

1) Work to reconfigure all of the car parking at the school (and for the Sports Centre) is on schedule and due to be finished in the next 10 days.

2) The new SEN Centre is nearly finished and will provide a suite of 3 rooms for students who require additional support for their learning. The new centre will be nearly double the size of the previous facilities.

3) Work has begun to construct the 3 additional Science labs that the school will require in 2013 (giving us a total of 13 labs) as well as a new entrance to the Science faculty and an additional year area. This work is due to be finished in December of this year.

4) Construction of the new Library and associated facilities will begin in December with the new Sixth Form centre due to start in January 2013.

If anyone has questions or comments do please email me

David Furmage said...

And heres Mr Andrew Speake who signed the petiition online against the Free School in Swanage. So tell us what is your involvement with the Purbeck school?

Some one mentioned on here that is not good for a childrens education to be working from porta cabins and that the Purbeck school have everything and why mess around with our childrens education. It's not just about porta cabin and science and IT , it's the distance we have to send our kids to the Purbeck if they want to do after school clubs aswell. Some parents don't drive and after school clubs go on late , so would you want your kids waiting in Wareham 10 miles from home at the aged of 11 upwards , bus fares come into it , sometimes buses don't come or even turn up. This is a disadvantage to some of our children in Swanage if I am allowed to speak for some of us parents. Where if a school in swanage can provide these clubs parents can get involved with them and know full well they are just a walk away from picking their children up if these clubs run late.

What get me is this online petition for purbeck people who are concerned about possible negative effects of the freeschool. Who by looking at it and doing a bit of detective work is signed by 19 teachers from Purbeck school and some of the relatives. I thought teachers were not allowed by school to get involved in these matters

The staff at the Freeschool have been honest and polite in their posts and I understand have stated in many posts on here and facebook that under no circumstances are they allowed to say anything bad about another school.
Though teachers and admin staff who probably post anonymous on here are out to slate everything they are trying to do and to alot of effect I might add. Well to be honest I for one have thought of home schooling my kids and wait for a freeschool to be built , than send them to a school were teachers behave in this manner , it's disgusting and childish behavour and to be honest you should be ashamed of yourselves your have done your school no favours and I went to Purbeck and I was proud to have gone to this school , but you have destroyed that with you damm right rude posts and evil posts against our Freeschool. Shame on you all , shame on you:(

One who has 'been there' said...

Mr A Speake is listed as a History teacher at The Purbeck School.

I am delighted to hear that TPS is having work done over the summer to enhance its educational provisions. However, I find it extraordinary that a teacher in the employ of another school should choose to post on this thread a comment which can only be taken as an opportunity to take advantage of the recent difficulties the new school is encountering. That an employee of a stronger school should chose to do this beggars belief and I hope the matter is looked into. As Dave says, this is an offensive and an unprofessional act and will, I hope, backfire.

Anonymous said...

9.27 really is typical of the way the supporters of the Swanage School have a cuckoo instinct that impels them to kick out at anyone who does not see things their way in the hope of throwing them out of the nest. This thread is an open discussion and not a propaganda vehicle for SW. They have a website and a Facebook page for that.

It was interesting to be told that about a third of those who signed up to the petition expressing disquiet at the Swanage School are professionally concerned with the education of the relevant age group locally. I find their views a lot more persuasive than those of Pat the Postman, Bob the Builder and all the other amateur experts who post on here.

Anonymous said...

SE not SW

David Furmage said...

So Mr M Rainsley who set up the other facebook page , who has stated he does not want to hear about the free school and any comments about it as this is his facebook page and deletes comments and people posting on it.

Mr M Rainsley who is head of science at Purbeck school , who has signed the petition against the free school which states that the free school would create unhealthy competition between schools . I thought that is what makes school strive to be the best ..... competition!

As for amateurs look it up in the dictionary , it's got a picture of the purbeck school next to it!

Swanagedad said...

The disjoint between the Department for Education (DfE) and Dorset County Council (DCC) in respect of the principle of future secondary school provision in Swanage beggars belief. The DfE clearly feels that The Swanage School proposals have great merit. However, DCC Officers have completely refused to reconsider their plans – despite the loosening of the diploma rules after the 2010 General Election. A number of people sceptical of some of those involved with ‘Education Swanage’ have told me that they would support the school if it had County backing.

Active opposition and derision from staff at The Purbeck School is, I agree, deeply disturbing. They really should be above this. The irony is that, as a result of the Purbeck Review, Bere Regis and Sandford primary schools have been removed from The Purbeck School catchment area making Swanage intake more significant than it need be. Lytchett Minster School is already extremely popular with Poole parents desperate to place their children there rather than the secondary modern schools of Poole (where academic selection and the 11+ still exists).

Anonymous said...

I think that in general the staff of the Purbeck School have been over fastidious in refraining from publicly criticising the ES proposal. If anyone thinks that what has appeared on here amounts to derision I can only say they are paranoid or at the very least feeling desperate.

The DoE has the task of putting their bosses flavour of the month scheme into operation. They therefore find merit in pretty well any free school proposal. How long this will survive when Mr Gove's sojourn in his present post come to an end none of us know. My experience of politician's big ideas is that they are quietly buried after the driving force joins the has beens in the lords.

Anonymous said...

Dave Furmage, you are being rather rude now. Pot, kettle, black. mr Rainsley Is head I'd History, so at least get your facts right.

David Furmage said...

Do apologise your are right and its Mr M Rainsley BA aswell. We can all make mistakes which we learn by. Just annoyed that a teacher can slate another school when really should keep their opinions to theirselves and be professional about things instead of being rude towards a school that's different to the one he works at!

Once again I do apoloigise !

Sleepless in Swanage aka Tish Alberry said...

I'm new to this site and it certainly makes interesting reading when you can't sleep. Below is a copy and paste of a comment I put on the ES FB page on Tuesday. I just wondered what all you Anons think of Councillor Bill Trite's judgement. Maybe I'm overreacting. Helen O'Connor from ES thinks it's an irrelevant fact. What do you think?

Last night I attended the meeting at the Town Hall which was initially to show and discusss the plans for the new St. Mary's on the 'Lower Grammar School' site but, due to recent developments, became a forum to discuss the possibility of sharing the site with the new Swanage School. This is clearly a worrying and emotive issue for all concerned. Helen O'Connor, representing ES, pointed out that all they were asking is that the parties concerned get together to discuss the possibility. This of course is an excellent idea. However, I was dismayed to see, on walking through the bar in The Red Lion after the meeting, Councillor Bill Trite sitting having a drink with the representatives of ES who had attended the meeting. If they were going to start these discussions so soon, it might have been polite to invite the representatives from St. Mary's to join their group. If, on the other hand, they were just having a friendly drink, perhaps the councillor should consider declaring an interest and withdraw from any discussions, as another councillor did recently.

Anonymous said...

As has previously been said, Mr Rainsley and others are not and have not slated another school. I agree that it would be unprofessional to do so. However The Swnage School is not yet in existence. It is simply a concept in the minds of a group of determined people at the moment. It has no building or funding yet. If anyone were to criticise the only member of staff The free school has, the head teacher (is he even in post yet?) that would be different. Members of this forum and Facebook groups are engaging in debate. A debate that I am not alone in thinking should be happening.
I also think that it is wrong to assume that the comments not favouring the free school on here are all from Purbeck School staff. I happen to know for a fact that they are not.
11pm says 'I think that in general the staff of the Purbeck School have been over fastidious in refraining from publicly criticising the ES proposal.' I would be inclined to agree.
Also Mr Rainsley is not afraid to put his name to his Facebook posts so I'm inclined to think that if he were posting on here, he wouldn't keep it hidden.

Anonymous said...

I'd encourage more Free School supporters to join Mr Rainsley's "Education Swanage - Free Discussion" Facebook page at!/groups/411582352207217/ in order to ensure a more balanced view emerges. At present Helen O'Connor seems to be trying to do this on her own there!

Anonymous said...

Similarly, I would encourage more of you join and to ask questions on ES Facebook page.

The Postman said...

Can people please be careful not to make potentially libellous or slanderous attacks on named individuals. This takes the debate too far, into areas that are perhaps not helpful.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that Helen is the only free school governor to be doing so. Paul Angel has been remarkably quiet.

Anonymous said...

David, can you please substantiate your claim that Purbeck staff have engaged in 'disgusting and childish behavour' on here and have made ' damm right rude posts and evil posts against our Freeschool.'

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you!

David Furmage said...

Ok great idea that everyone should get around a table and talk , don't see nothing wrong with this!

Though I would like a few questions answered , I mean this is what we all want is it not?

So ,

1st . Why are St Marys so interested in moving , when for the last few years they fought had to keep the school at the moment and billed on this ?

2. Why did those representing The church have a 2 hour meeting with Mr Trite before the town hall meeting ?

3. Why do St Marys not care what happens to children after they leave at 11 ?

4. I thought it says in their so called book it's about sharing and giving?

5. From what I heard St Marys and their attitude was outrageous towards the council and anyone else who question their motives about sharing with St Marks. Is this true?

6. Why should St Mary been giving this only piece of public land to build and school on it , when the church is rich beyond belief? Surely they could buy some land?

7. And do people not relize that if another primary school is built , we of swanage will never have secondary Education in town which means the population will drop and people will not move into town where there is no secondary education. Is this what we want of Swanage? Because I don't:(

7 simple questions that I would liked answered please :)

Seeview said...

In response to David Furmage's post of 16/8 at 9:09am.

Your post is really creepy and suggests you either have ready access to the petition opposing the FS or that you have made a note of the people who have signed it.This sums up precisely why people post anonymously here and why I have have serious reservations (not opposition) about the FS.Reading posts here and letters in the Purbeck Gazette it's easy to get the impression that Swanage is a very insular community with a big chip on its shoulder that doesn't take kindly to anyone who disagrees with the loudest shouted (but not neccassarily most popular) opinion.

My worry is that if Swanage gets it's own school the insularity will become even worse.I can understand all the arguments for a local school,but I can also see the downsides;kids trapped together in a small community from 4-16 without the opportunity to explore different views or cultural attitudes and with a belief that Swanage is worse off than the rest of Dorset rather than the reality,which is that the majority of people are far better off in every way than our nearest neighbours in Poole or Bournemouth.I also worry that difficult kids will soon be shipped off to PS,because the FS won't have sufficient funds to provide them with the extra care they will require and that with fewer pupils in future PS will struggle to fund a decent education for everyone's kids,not just the kids from Swanage.

I think these are valid concerns and shouldn't just be dismissed with vague promise,but posts like yours are hardly reassuring.

Anonymous said...

A couple of points in response to the post at: 17/8/12 12:01 PM

1. Swanage is not Devil’s Island! Does it not occur to you that having a good secondary school in Swanage might actually attract people into the town? Look at the number of people who commute to Swanage each day by car. I also understand that ES have received a number of enquiries from parents outside of the town who are disillusioned with the quality of education where they live. It’s a total misconception that the majority of supporters of the Free School are insular and have no interest in life and activity beyond Corfe gap.

2. There’s nothing “creepy” about referring to names who’ve signed the petition. All signatories are all clearly listed on the petition website at:

Seeview said...

As far as I'm aware the population of Swanage is not falling but has been fairly stable for the last few years.What I don't understand though is why some people are so keen to see the population here grow.What is it you think that will achieve?Bournemouth,Poole and Dorchester have all grown hugely in the last 20 years.Now wherever you go in those towns they're more crowded,there is more traffic and so more traffic jams and traffic lights and parking meters and potholes in the roads and uncut weeds and verges.There's more noise,more dirt and more pollution,more unemployed and more people on benefits.More drunks,more violence and more pawnbrokers.Is that what you really want for Swanage?As far as I can see all Swanage needs is a more diverse community not a hugely bigger one.

Anonymous said...

insularity ? no opportunity to explore different views or cultural attitudes ? Swanage is a holiday resort ffs it has a huge number of people from different parts coming and going, a big successful efl school with students from all over the world,Poole/Bournemouth is a short trip over the ferry with a good bus service,we are an important area for geological studies and field trips, have a big Arts community,shall i go on ?

Wareham on the other hand has a bypass and probably the odd good Banjo player.

This is not really a reasonable argument against the school but one i often hear.

Seeview said...

1)I didn't say the supporters of the FS are insular.

2)I do find it creepy that Mr Furmage is noting names.You don't - fine,that's your opinion,but it's not a fact.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, St Mary's did initially want to stay where they are but there simply is not enough space to build and accommodate the extra classes. I'm sure a St Mary's representative could confirm this.
I imagine the church had a meeting with Mr Trite because they had just been informed of the proposal from ES re sharing the land. If ES can meet with members from STC, it's only right that St Mary's should too, surely.
Can you prove that St Mary's don't care about what happens to child's after age 11?
Substantiate your claims about St Mary's 'outrageous attitude' please.
Your tone is rather defensive and becoming offensive.
And I'm just a by stander. I do not have any affiliation with Purbeck, the free school or St Mary's.

Anonymous said...

In response to comments made regarding my meeting last week with Mayor Bill Trite and members of Education Swanage after the Town Hall meeting (which I attended).

After spending three hours listening to the side put across by St Mary's School, I invited members of Education Swanage and Mayor Bill Trite to meet with me for half an hour in the Red Lion to discuss their views - to ensure balance was retained.

Anyone who feels this was a 'secret' meeting, or out of order, should perhaps return to the school playground themselves. At the Purbeck Gazette we ensure we speak to ALL sides of any debate to ensure non-bias.

Nico Johnson. Editor, Purbeck Gazette

Anonymous said...

Thank you Nico for that information This is the first time I've heard it mentioned that the meeting was with you at the Gazette. Helen O'Connor and Tish Alberry did not explain this in response to earlier comments. I'm looking forward to reading a balanced report in your paper.

Anonymous said...

Nico. Why did you not invite anyone from St Mary's to your after meeting meeting in the Red Lion which went on longer than half an hour?

Anonymous said...

Thx for posting Nico, were you at the meeting in the afternoon with St Marys and the council? I ask this because you say three hours of listening to St Marys view.. the evening meeting lasted for 1 1/2 hours.. 6.30 til 8? Also, ES and STC shared their positions within that time.

Anonymous said...

Responding to the issue of insularity:

This is not a criticism of Purbeck School, but does a school on the edge of Wareham really make a difference to whether a young person is able to make their way in the world. Until the 1970's there were 2 secondary schools in Swanage - did this make people insular - I don't think so. Young people are naturally inquisitive, and like to explore and cross boundaries. So I don't think there is a fear of young people becoming insular. At 16 they may go to college/18 to university. Or into a job - whatever.

Why wouldn't a community wish to care for its young people in the community where they live, so that they can grow in confidence and spread their wings ?? It is about nurturing and enabling young people to grow and learn the skills they need to face the wider world. Not to do with restricting them and not about making them self centered and insular. Its completely the opposite.

Is it too much to ask for there to be one secondary school for Swanage. If in 1970's it had been decided to build a comprehensive in the most populated town in Purbeck (Swanage), and Wareham people now wanted to,create their own secondary school for its town, would there be an outcry from Swanage.?? I'm trying to imagine this scenario. Wouldn't i seem strange for people in Swanage to make a fuss about Wareham wanting a secondary school.

This is about giving parents a choice, some parents may choose a large comprehensive for what it can offer, others may choose a smaller, community school in the town where their children live. Both have advantages. Its personal choice. Larger/Smaller ?? Both schools will have great but different things to offer.

I don't seen trying to create a school in Swanage as being an insular attitude, it has many strengths. Its about a community coming together, taking the responsibility for educating its young people in its community, for mutual benefit ie Socially, economically, environmentally. The New School if able to come to fruition will be proud of its strong vision and ethos. It is pleased to be supported by Human Scale Education and the Co-operative College.

James Wetz (HSE)has offered to speak to Purbeck School about Urban Village Schools.

I'm not sure why there is opposition to a secondary school in Swanage. The catchment of Purbeck School is so much larger, so why is there a concern ? It was confirmed at the inspectors meeting of the Purbeck Schools reorganisation (SMS) that a secondary school in Swanage would not negatively impact on Purbeck School.

Please let's try to build bridges and work together. Purbeck is such an amazing community full of lovely people and great resources. And between us, there is much cross pollination!!

Its intended for The Swanage School to make positive links with Purbeck School and to work together. There could be benefits for the young people at Purbeck School students from Wareham could join Swanage for outdoor education eg. sailing and students from Swanage could sometimes share Purbeck Schools facilities. A barter type system.??

This is not a fight, its Swanage trying to do something good for its community and town. There is a strong will for this new school to happen. I realise there is opposition too, its only natural that people don't like change.

I am not trying to persuade people to go to The Swanage School. Purbeck is a great school too. Lets celebrate that we are so very lucky to live in such a wonderful place.

David Furmage said...

Then forgive me !

If shall rephase that question.

Do teachers of St Marys care what happens to children when they are 11? And Do they not think Swanage needs a secondary school?

What I do find creepy or it might be a coincidence is some of the names on the petition against the free school seem to be family members of the teachers aswell . Does that means if I was to sign any petition I could put my pets name too it. Just wondering!

One who has 'been there' said...

My only reservation about the viability of a secondary school is the number that will choose to attend. A secondary school of 50-100-200-300 will not have the breadth of curriculum that larger schools can offer. What happens if parents choose to send their kids there from 11-13 and then move them to Purbeck because they perceive more on offer there - the sports centre, for a start.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know how Purbeck's A levels went? Nothing about it in the Echo

Anonymous said...

"What I do find creepy or it might be a coincidence is some of the names on the petition against the free school seem to be family members of the teachers aswell"

Whats creepy about that. The more the people I talk to about this know about secondary education the stronger their reservations are about a Swanage school. It the tiny size and resultant lack of choice within the school they pick up on. These are exactly the things ES have tried to present as a strength.

Tish Alberry said...

In answer to David Furmage's questions:
1.Why are St Marys so interested in moving , when for the last few years they fought had to keep the school at the moment and billed on this ?
Ans.The staff and governors of St. Mary's would have preferred to stay where they are but the cost of redeveloping the site is more than than DCC will cover and the children would still be on a confined site even if they would pay for it.
2.Why did those representing The church have a 2 hour meeting with Mr Trite before the town hall meeting ?
Ans. The meeting was between the school, the diocese and STC asked for by St. Mary’s because they had not been told anything about sharing the site and the council had voted on this without consulting them. They would obviously need these facts beforehand.
3.Why do St Marys not care what happens to children after they leave at 11 ?
Ans. Having sent your boys to St. Mary's I'm sure you know very well that they care about all children but do not believe in compromising their safety and education.
4.I thought it says in their so called book it's about sharing and giving?
Ans. I'm not sure which book you mean but the school motto is 'be loving and truthful'. In my opinion Mrs Lake wouldn't hesitate to share that site if it was big enough and the safety and education of her children was not compromised.
5.From what I heard St Marys and their attitude was outrageous towards the council and anyone else who question their motives about sharing with St Marks. Is this true?
Ans. No this is not true – indeed Helen Armstrong the headteacher of St. Mark’s was at the meeting and offered her support to St. Mary’s. I certainly didn't witness any outrageous behaviour.
6.Why should St Mary been giving this only piece of public land to build and school on it , when the church is rich beyond belief? Surely they could buy some land?Ans. The school is a DCC school and there are other pieces of land which I understand the free school did not want.
7.And do people not relize that if another primary school is built , we of swanage will never have secondary Education in town which means the population will drop and people will not move into town where there is no secondary education. Is this what we want of Swanage? Because I don't:(
Ans. Can I refer you to the statement from the chair of governors of St. Mary’s on the school web site.

And Nico, I know you always give a balanced view in the Gazette and trust that, as you have met with ES and the council, you have or will also meet with St. Mary's.

David Furmage said...

Tish ,, thank you very much for giving me an honest answer to the questions I had ask , I shall ponder on these answers as I am in the middle of dinner :)

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm aware the population of Swanage is not falling but has been fairly stable for the last few years.What I don't understand though is why some people are so keen to see the population here grow.What is it you think that will achieve?Bournemouth,Poole and Dorchester have all grown hugely in the last 20 years.Now wherever you go in those towns they're more crowded,there is more traffic and so more traffic jams and traffic lights and parking meters and potholes in the roads and uncut weeds and verges.There's more noise,more dirt and more pollution,more unemployed and more people on benefits.More drunks,more violence and more pawnbrokers.Is that what you really want for Swanage?As far as I can see all Swanage needs is a more diverse community not a hugely bigger one.

Hmm, until the diverse community part you sounded like a Daily Mail reader.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone seriously claim having years 7 and 8 taking a bus to school in Wareham rather than taking a long walk up Northbrook Road or being driven there would stop people moving to Swanage? It beggars belief. I wonder how they persuade anyone that this is remotely plausible.

Michael Joyner said...

How many different 'anonymous' writers are there? Would it be possible, for instance, for the very first 'anonymous' writer to call himself/herself 'Anonymous 1', then the second 'anonymous' writer (being a different person) call himslef/herself 'Anonymous 2' etc then it will be psossible to follow the the 'train of thought'(hopefully)of each 'anonymous' writer

One who has 'been there' said...

The answer would be to require everyone to adopt a name, like 'One who has 'been there'

Anonymous said...

Which would of course enable those intent on taking the mickey to pose as another poster very easily. It would also take us further down the line of the ad hominem attacks we have seen in some threads against people like Robin and away from debating the merits of the case at issue. In other words a slanging match. If you wish to put forward an argument against some view it makes no difference if that view was expressed by one person or a dozen. Behind the demand is the fallacy that a view is right is it is widely held and wrong if it is not. There are in fact countless examples of widely held nonsenses. Enthusiasts for them get terribly offended if they are ridiculed, as we have seen from time to time on here, so I will not give concrete examples.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 666


David Furmage :)

Anonymous said...

Anyone out there with a black moustache? You could be Anon 118!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone seriously claim having years 7 and 8 taking a bus to school in Wareham rather than taking a long walk up Northbrook Road or being driven there would stop people moving to Swanage? It beggars belief. I wonder how they persuade anyone that this is remotely plausible.

18/8/12 10:46 PM

Who are 'they' ?

I think the point that is being made is that if there is no secondary education in Swanage ie no 11-16 education then from the point of view of someone considering moving/continuing to live in a town with young children, they may be more attracted to a place where there are primary and secondary schools. Estate Agents include schools in their marketing information.

The reason its good to encourage young families is to achieve a vibrant community, with a good balance of young, middle and elderly people. Why wouldn't Swanage want to achieve this ?

Quoted from a house agents website.
'Education is a vital requirement for people with families and this means that moving into an area with good schooling is very necessary for any parent.'

David Furmage said...

Haha well if I go to hell , least that's where they play the good music:)

Well know a few families that are considering moving out of town already and not like Wareham or Corfe , further a field. Might be time aswell.

Anonymous said...

'Education is a vital requirement for people with families and this means that moving into an area with good schooling is very necessary for any parent.'

Somebody was paid to write the obvious.....and to do so, so poorly?

Estate agents are not the sharpest knife in the drawer....

Anonymous said...

When I wrote "I wonder how they persuade anyone that this is remotely plausible." I was of course referring to Education Swanage who claim that a 20 minute bus ride is so horrendous that 11 year olds cannot be subjected to it. Journeys of this duration are perfectly normal all around the country.

There has been no 13-16 education in Swanage for about 40 years. The town has not emptied of population as a consequence. If the 11 and 12 year olds to to Purbeck school as well it is not going to make any difference.

The statement that the quality of the school the children in a locality attend is important when people are buying a home is well known. It it misleading to maintain that this means the school must be located within the parish. It is a statement about the quality of whichever school the local children go to.

What on earth is a "vibrant community"? If you look at the census website you will find that the age distribution of Swanage is markedly different that found in large towns and the loss or gain of a dozen or so families worried by the bus trip is not going to alter this. The implication in what you say is that departure from the average age distribution is in itself unhealthy.

Over the years I have seen a number of schemes for different things proposed in Swanage. The only thing they have in common is that part of the propaganda is always "Swanage will wither away without this." Its something that needs to be taken with a generous pinch of salt.

Anonymous said...

At last some common sense about the schools saga.

A 20 minute journey is no big deal and children all around the UK are well used to that sort of thing.

The important thing should be to provide the best, cost effective education and in all probability Purbeck School can do that if it ups its game. Surely it is up to parents to push for the best education there?

Anonymous said...

Let's not kill the baby before it is born. But let's start seeing some tangible results. A website and good intentions are all that exist so far....and September 2013 is just over twelve months away.

Anonymous said...

I am sure Purbeck School is up tp providing the education required but thats not the point.
If there is enough demand for a school to provide secondary education in Swanage then why shouldnt we have one ?
I really dont get the objections, it is another choice and if TPS is your choice you can still send your children there.

Anonymous said...

Don't think TPS paints a pretty picture. Being a student there for the last 3 years , it is very overcrowed already. Teachers talk about how badly run it's is and some of them are rude and almost bullish towards students. Some classes are already busting at the seams with 35+ , though they say 3 more labs being built that will still not solve the problem of an extra 300
to 400. Also bulling is still a major concern with it sometimes not even being resolved. Though we are told to put up with things. If I was 11 I for one would find a big school quite scary and that's something that could hinder a childs education.

Anonymous said...

"Let's not kill the baby before it is born"

Killing it when it is a screaming two headed toddler would be a lot harder.

"If there is enough demand for a school to provide secondary education in Swanage then why shouldnt we have one?"

This is the nub of the problem. The population of the catchment is simply insufficient for there to be enough demand, however fervently local people may desire a school. Ask some secondary school teachers for their views on a very small school.

With regard to bullying, there is no correlation between this and size. It can be a problem in the tiniest school. This goes for pupils and staff.

Incidentally, Eton College has over 1300 pupils, about the same as Purbeck, and some of its former inmates have got on quite well despite having attended such a large school.

Anonymous said...

"the problem of an extra 300"

I seem to recall reading that years 7 and 8 will use the redundant Wareham Middle School premises which would mean they are not contributing to overcrowding. Correct me if I am misinformed

Anonymous said...

Something that was posted a while back by free education. Got some valid points.

Swanage should get a new secondary school rather than bussing over 700 children from the area to Wareham every day.

We are the ONLY town in Dorset not to have a secondary school (except for new town Verwood) but we have enough children to fill one.

The Purbeck School will soon take 1750 children - making it enormous - bigger than 97 per cent of secondary schools in the country - most are half that size. Do we want children to go from tiny village schools to a huge comp split over two sites in Wareham? Why can't one of the sites be here?

The town lost its two secondary schools by one vote in 1974. This is a chance to put it right.

We could get adult education and sports facilities at the same time, plus all the benefits of after-school activities and better parental involvement.

Anonymous said...

700 children bussed to Wareham ? is that number right ? if this is correct then saying the catchment area doesn`t have enough children is ridiculous.

One 'who has been there' said...

'Incidentally, Eton College has over 1300 pupils, about the same as Purbeck, and some of its former inmates have got on quite well despite having attended such a large school.'

Eton College is broken down into houses, in which a smaller number of pupils sleep, study and eat away from the other 1300. This reduces the large size to small, cohesive units.

Which makes me think: why doesn't PS reorganize into 'houses': 'Wareham', 'Swanage', 'Bovington', 'Purbeck' etc. Or is that 'too competitive' for a comprehensive school? Why not also mark the change to PS by renaming it 'Purbeck College' and extending its use to the community by developing adult courses for the evenings? Why not push the boat out and really get the place going?

Anonymous said...

Why travel to do courses when I can do them online?

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