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Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children: what's the future?

frankbarnes.jpgFrank Barnes is a bilingual primary school based in north London, specifically in the London Borough of Camden, teaching through the mediums of BSL and English.

The school has been recognised for its quality, and was previously awarded beacon status for high performing schools (scheme now phrased out).

The London Borough of Camden wants to close the existing school, and redevelop the site to make way for a (hearing) secondary school, set to open in 2011. The authority states that one of its reasons for demolishing the school is that only three of its pupils come from Camden, and around 40 other children outside this borough.

Within the UK local authorities usually assume responsibility for schools, and places for any children outside the borough are charged to the authority in which the children reside. A London Borough map can be found here.

Deaf people (including children) will always be geographically spread out, and to this end solutions designed in response to how a hearing society or the majority is constructed, cannot be applied. The school's catchment area goes beyond Camden, which shifts the priority the LEA is giving this matter.

Now the authorityl is looking at 5 possible solutions:

- Building a specialist regional centre for students from across London in Camden.

- Rebuilding the school alongside Primrose Hill primary in Princess Road.

- Turning an existing building somewhere in the borough into an appropriate location for Frank Barnes.

- Building a new base next to a current Camden school to cater for just eight students with hearing difficulties.

- Merging Frank Barnes with Blanche Neville school for deaf children in Muswell Hill.

Why should it have less priority and become second, or make way for something else. Frank Barnes got where it was first (does anyone know when it was established?), thus it is now expected to give up something for a majority. Due to their minority status / don't easily fit into mainstream structures, they are being penalised.

What do you think of Camden's decision to demolish the existing building, and what should they do now? Do you have any strong opinions on this subject?

Source: Ham & High

New hope for award winning deaf school

AN AWARD winning special needs school which was set to disappear under Camden Council's plans to build a new secondary has been thrown a lifeline.

Frank Barnes school for Deaf Children on Harley Road in Swiss Cottage will be flattened to make way for a £30million secondary school, which is set to open in 2011.

When the council first announced the proposal last autumn it admitted the school would probably have to be relocated outside the borough.

This statement left bosses at Frank Barnes worried they would be cut adrift to fight for their future but under pressure from governors and staff, Camden Council has agreed to look at various alternatives.

Schools chief Andrew Mennear said: "We have committed to work closely with the school to find a solution for Frank Barnes that en-sures the best possible specialist education for Camden's deaf students.

"This is an extremely important decision and we will be working closely with the school and listening to parents and residents before weighing up all the options."

Frank Barnes is currently at-tended by around 40 children with severe hearing problems from all over London.

And one of the council's reasons for demolishing the school is that only three of its pupils come from the borough.

During a controversial meeting on July 25, shortly after confirming the new secondary would be built on the site of Frank Barnes and run by University College London, the executive members of the council agreed to look at five specific solutions for the school. These are:

o Building a specialist regional centre for students from across London in Camden.

o Rebuilding the school alongside Primrose Hill primary in Princess Road.

o Turning an existing building somewhere in the borough into an appropriate location for Frank Barnes.

o Building a new base next to a current Camden school to cater for just eight students with hearing difficulties.

o Merging Frank Barnes with Blanche Neville school for deaf children in Muswell Hill.

Despite Frank Barnes governors' concerns, the council is keen on the last option because it may be achievable within the timescale set by the government for its massive investment in secondary schools.

When John Bryant, Camden's spokesman for children visited Frank Barnes he said the pupils were 'some of the happiest he had ever seen'.

"This is about finding a way forward for those parents who want to send their children to a school that teaches in British Sign Language," he said. "We want to secure the future for delivering the curriculum in this way."

Over the next three months bosses at Frank Barnes will begin fighting for their preferred option which is to create a regional centre in Camden.

The council is due to make a final report to the government in October.

Comments (6)

Its been thrown a lifeline!
according to See Hear
http://www.bbc.co.uk/seehear/latest/index.shtml#2008

This is exactly the same article as I posted for this entry!

Camden did the same to Penn School for exactly the same reasons back in 1999. We survived and are now flourishing as a non-maintained school!!!

@ Alison, that's really interesting to know, something I was not aware of re Penn. If Camden take away support for Frank Barnes, they own the land + want to do something else with, then could a solution be found in this instance if went down that route? Buy Camden out - London land is a premium?

Other people - I've still not received letter templates, so I am not in a position to pass anything on. Sorry.

What happened now after the protest? I hope that Camden pay attention and listen to the people in the protest, I am gutted that I didn't know about this before and couldn't give my support.
Any more further actions must be widely publicised to all Deaf people.

An updated report of the aftermath of the protest will be good for everybody in the Deaf community to know and wake them all up to see that there are serious problems in the UK and the world for Deaf people happening now.

I heard that there is a new website & group called Thumb down Frank Barnes against Thumb up Frank Barnes parent group. The anti Frank Barnes group was set up by ex members of staff and parents who left and receives support from Camden Council privately. Is that true?

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