"Crown Woods must be allowed to compete with grammar schools in Bexley - It's what parents want."

Councilllors on the Children and Young People's Scrutiny Panel left the Town Hall last week to hold a meeting at the newly completed Crown Woods College, built under the last Government's Building Schools for Future programme.  Given that the programme has not delivered what it set out to do councillors have been regularly reviewing the three BSF programmes that did get the go ahead at Crown Woods, Thomas Tallis and John Roan.

Following a tour of the new school building councillors had the opportunity to have a Q&A session with Crown Woods Headmaster Mike Murphy who took councillors through the major changes.

A key point of discussion was the decisions to split the college into smaller 'schools' of 450 students, and that the membership of the different schools would be base don ability, with a school for the highest achievers.  Mr Murphy told councillors that this had been done to ensure a rise in standards as small schools often delivered better results.  It also meant that the college would be able to compete with the grammar school system over the border in Bexley, which literally 100s  of local parents choose over Greenwich schools every year. 

In explaining the system Mr Murphy made it clear that memberships of the different schools by ability was something that 'local parents want', that the college had to 'compete' with grammars and academies in Bexley and that the evidence of this was seen in the dramatic increase in first choice applications of local parents in the latest admissions round, when previously the school had generally had surplus spaces.

Councillors also asked about the transition from the old school to the new and the disappointing GCSE result sin 2011 which was one of the worst performances of a comprehensive maintained school in any London Borough.  

Mr Murphy was clear that the time of the transition, in May, had not been ideal and had seriously impacted on results for that year.  He was candid and honest about the role that senior staff had played in that, but following further questioning from Conservative councillors, Adam Thomas and Dermot Poston, the committee learnt that he had been given no choice in the timing of transition.