Tuesday, 7 December 2010

(Good?) news from the Triangle Playground & community news from Archbishop Tenison

I've been informed that Archbishop Tension School have published their first ever community news sheet.  On account of the fact that we're a caring, sharing blog that always represents two sides of any argument, I'll let you take a look:
I don't recall ever seeing an Archbishop Tension School community newsletter before, but perhaps I'm wrong and an eagle eyed reader will inform me that this is part of a long tradition.  My guess is that the letter was released because the Triangle Association have strengthened their campaign.

Now, whilst I'd acknowledge that there might be no current plans for Archbishop Tension School to take over the Triangle Adventure Playground and replace it with a car park, I simply cannot agree with their line (p1) "neither the school or Lambeth Council has ever had any plans for a car park on this site".  I make no comment other than to point you to the architectural plan 6 (the one Lambeth Council chose), which clearly shows that one corner of the space occupied by The Triangle is marked as "parking".  Also, I've still not had any good answer from the Council on the question of why plan 6 was chosen?  There are 5 other architectural plans which don't require the use of the Triangle's land for the expansion of Archbishop Tension School, and the Council chose the only one that required land from The Triangle.  Why?

In an attempt to be generous, the school acknowledge that they "desperately need more space for play..." and "want our school facilities to also be used by local residents".  But since the land is not theirs, why is the question posed in this manner?  Why do the school not graciously request permission of the Triangle Association to use the Triangle Playground, instead of attempting a take over and then "permitting" community use?  Also, the school argue that they have "strong links with the community in Oval".  Please could somebody comment on this point?  Mention of "community youth groups" is made, so it would be useful to hear which groups currently use the school site.  Also, I'd like to see a breakdown of the number of local people who attended IT training sessions at the school who were not already affiliated as parents.  Has anybody attended one of the school's IT sessions that could comment further on this?

Anyhow... The leaflet above seems to affirm that the school expansion will not take place (the BSF plans have been shelved by the Con Dems), but still states, "Once there is a clearer picture about the future refurbishment of the school we will discuss the possibilities.  The school desperately needs more space for play..."  This suggests, does it not, that the school intends to continue its attempts to get its hands on the Triangle.  It seems likely that the school is going to continue to insist that the Triangle be given to it on the grounds that the plans belatedly developed for the site under BSF represent the best use for the land and will provide a play facility for the local community adequate to replace the Triangle.  The point is though, that the Triangle Playground should not be "up gor grabs".   Founded by Marjorie Porter MBE in 1957, it is the oldest Adventure Playground in London.  She remained active on its committee up to the age of 97 and thought of the playground as one of her "greatest achievements".

There is a strong argument to be made, I think, in separating play institutions from educational institutions.  The organisation Fair Play for Children was brought into being, in part, through a letter to The Times from Bishop Trevor Huddleston, who stated in 1972:

"Since the Plowden Report it has been recognized that there must be Educational Priority Areas involving more generous financal provision from the state.  But, as the recent National Child Development Study From Birth to Seven makes clear... "equality of educational opportunity cannot be achieve solely by improving our educational institutions"... It is the total environment that must be be changed.  The local authority, the local community and many voluntary agencies in East London are doing their best to provide recreational facilities and opportunities during the school holidays.  But they are up against vast environmental difficulities in terms of disued canals, dangerous motorways and, above all, lack of open space."  Read the rest of the letter here (bold emphasis mine).

In my view, the school should be permitted to use the Triangle playground land, but it should not be handed over to them.  Play should be safeguarded alongside, but separate from education.  It's too easy to put up temporary classrooms in playground areas when schools become overcrowded, and a separate organisation can guard against this tendency more adequately.  There is an excellent Association that runs the Triangle playground for the good of all local children, and it would be a shame, in these days of an apparently resurgent co-operative movement, to abandon this good will.

But in the meantime, there's some good news... Cllr Robbins has advised the Triangle Association that it is his intention not to close the playground. However, the Triangle Association have requested a meaningful lease from the council in order to enable them to raise funds, and have requested that the council withdraw its proceedings agaisnt the Triangle's voluntary trustees.  The Triangle Association also wish to discuss the option for pupils at the Archbishop Tension School to use the playground at break times (geat idea).

Also, it has been suggested to me that there's an alternative option for expansion of the Archbishop Tension School, and for releasing more place space for them.  The car park on the school site could be immediately converted into playground space, and the school could take up an offer (from the Metropolitan Housing Trust) of one of the secure underground car-parks on the Ashmole Estate.  This would immediately release approx. 600m2 of playground space.


Juliet said...

An excellent blog. The Triangle playground has repeatedly offered the land to ABT school to use during the day but they have never taken up the offer. It is ownership they want. Does anyone know what preservation can be put on the land to keep it a green site. They are so rare in the innercity and once gone never replaced!

Anonymous said...

I think archbishops tenn has good links with surrey ccc. Does that count as community links?

Sid Boggle said...

I couldn't give you any recent evidence of Tenison's being linked to the local community. I went to Henry Fawcett, the nearest primary, and we had one place available to a HF pupil at Tenison's. It was a Grammar then. I didn't know any kids there from the neighbourhood (lived on the Ashmole 'til 1970) and a classmate who lived elsewhere in Kennington got the place the year I left HF.
I would say that Tenison's appear to have coped for decades without play space. They have a relationship with Surrey to use the Oval's facilities for cricket, and I remember boys being taken to Vauxhall to be taken for sports outside the area. I appreciate the school's population is probably much larger now than it was in the 70's, but they seem to have coped with sports well enough. Their and the Council's proposals still don't add up, to me. And this newsletter just looks like a vehicle to add their voice to those alarmed or concerned locals who fear losing The Triangle.

SE11 Lurker said...

For evidence of the /potential/ for temporary classroom extensions to be placed on playgrounds, see http://www.southlondon-today.co.uk/News.cfm?id=43070&headline=

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