An education minister has confirmed that the Government is still committed to the stalled plan to create a university technical college on the Southwark College campus in Bermondsey.

This exchange took place at education questions in the Commons on Monday.

Simon Hughes:

Will Ministers confirm that the Government will do everything they can to ensure that the Southwark and Lewisham college campus site in Bermondsey gets not only a continuing further education college but a university technical college and, if space permits, a secondary school, too?

Matthew Hancock (education minister):

Yes, I can. I know that my right hon. Friend has met colleagues in the other place, and my colleagues in this place and I are happy to meet him too to ensure that we can sort this problem out.

The Compass School Trust has announced the appointment of Tony Searle as the Compass School’s first headteacher.

The Compass School is a new state secondary ‘free school’ in Bermondsey. It was approved by the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove last autumn and plans to open in September 2013.

Tony Searle joins the trust from the Cabot Learning Federation, where he is the vice Principal of Hans Price Academy. Prior to that he had a number of assistant principal roles within the Federation, including the John Cabot Academy and Bristol Brunel Academy.

“The Compass School’s ethos is centred on the “4Rs” – reading, writing, arithmetic and the fourth “R”, relating,” explained chairman Doug Lewis.

“As well as excellent academic standards, the Compass School will focus on developing our pupils’ ability to relate to the world around them – from their peers to the workplace.

“We will be opening our doors in September 2013 and are absolutely delighted to have appointed such a high calibre and committed individual as Tony Searle, who comes with an impressive track record in educational excellence.

“We very much look forward to him joining the Compass team and helping translate our vision into reality for hundreds of Southwark families over the years to come.”

Tony Searle said: “Excellence is the platform for any really successful school and that’s our starting point in Southwark. I want parents to expect the best from us and I want our pupils to demand the best from themselves.

“The Compass School will support and inspire our pupils in the classroom and beyond- through sport and performing arts and a range of extra curricula activities all aimed at equipping them for life and the world of work.”

Over the coming months the Compass Schools Trust will be hosting a public meetings for local families and residents to hear more about the plans for the new school.

A new website has also been launched at




The new Southwark Free School  will open its doors this September after education secretary Michael Gove signed the funding agreement for the school.

The school will eventually be located at 399 Rotherhithe New Road but will not be able to move into that building for another two years.

The first pupils will be accommodated in the Ledbury Estate  TRA Hall in Pencraig Way SE15, just south of the Old Kent Road.

The Ledbury Estate site is nearly two miles from the Borough area in SE1 where the school had originally planned to open.

“This is fantastic news and the culmination of months of hard work and determination,” says chairman Patrick Shine.

“We are now set to open in September and begin to realise our ambition of providing an outstanding primary school in Southwark.”

Jeanette Mason, chair of the Ledbury Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said: “This is absolutely fantastic! The hall has badly needed repairing for years and it’s empty during the day because nobody wants to use it.

“This way, not only do we get a brand new school that will help a lot of young families on the estate, but we’ll have a completely renovated hall and much needed investment in the community.”

Patrick Shine added: “Located in the estate, our school will be at the heart of the community, a place where children will have the chance to benefit from a first class education. We want to thank the secretary of state and Ledbury Tenants’ and Residents’  Association for enabling this to happen.”

Southwark Free School is be holding a series of public exhibitions for local residents and prospective parents. Taking place on Thursday 16 August 3pm-9pm and Saturday 18 August 10am-4pm at 399 Rotherhithe New Road, the public exhibitions will allow residents the chance to come and view the plans, meet the project team and have their say on what is being proposed.

Southwark Free School will eventually accommodate up to 420 children as well as up to 60 nursery places on the site of the old print works at 399 Rotherhithe New Road.

On Thursday Borough Market welcomed the next generation of budding entrepreneurs to try their hand at market trading for the day.

Students from Bacon’s College and St Michael’s College joined t the market to sell their wares as part of a project to develop young people’s business and enterprise skills by supporting them to initiate and develop sustainable business ideas.

The initiative, run by Southwark Education Business Alliance, has seen local youngsters working in teams to produce unique business ideas which were then presented to a panel of judges drawn from the local business community.

“Borough Market is proud to welcome some of Southwark’s budding entrepreneurs to the market for the day to try their hand at trading,” says market MD Keith Davis.

“The market is home to over 100 traders who provide a wealth of artisan skills and specialist expertise and are only too keen to share some of their passion and knowledge.  I can think of no better place for youngsters to learn about business and trading.”

Lulzim Osmani from SEBA added:  “We are delighted that Borough Market is offering Southwark’s young people such a wonderful opportunity to improve their entrepreneurial skills by selling in London’s most famous market.

“We hope that this experience will help young people engage more with their local area and appreciate it more.”

Extracts from a report on school places in SE16 prepared for next week’s Education, Children’s Services and Leisure Scrutiny Sub-Committee meeting, covering the Compass Free School, University Technical College and Southwark Free School:


14. Compass School have yet to identify a site and this non-identification of a site, both permanent and temporary, is a significant risk to the school opening as proposed in September 2013.

15. This ongoing uncertainty may result in Compass not progressing and consideration may need to be given as to how additional places could be delivered within the existing estate.


16. The DfE has approved the deferral of the opening of the UTC to September 2013. The UTC proposals are not currently progressing as a result of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future of Southwark College and the potential for this to result in the non-availability of the site or the necessary ancillary facilities for the UTC. Even with the quick resolution of the site issues a September 2013 opening is unlikely to be achievable.


17. Discussions and recommendations in regard to the delivery of the 100 additional places are not being progressed at this time as it is considered that these should be delivered in the context of the delivery of all the identified required places. These other proposed expansions are currently at risk due to site availability issues and should they not proceed the delivery of 100 places at a particular school may undermine site potential and funding for expansion there or elsewhere if required.


18. In 2011 Southwark Free School (SFS) secured Department for Education pre- opening approval to open in September 2012. At the time of this approval the school was proposed to be established at a site in Great Dover Street.

19. In March 2012 SFS initiated a public consultation process seeking feedback from local stakeholders in regard to proposals to establish a 420 place primary school at 399 Rotherhithe New Road. The current status of this site acquisition is unknown.

20. The preferred site is not in a condition that would enable the school to be established in September 2012 and Partnerships for Schools are therefore also seeking to identify a temporary site. No temporary site has been confirmed but a September 2012 opening date is still targeted by SFS and PfS. The school was not included in the 2012/13 admissions arrangements.

The Central School of Ballet is this week celebrating a year of providing free weekly dance lessons for pupils in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.   CSB has been running a satellite school based at Alfred Salter Primary School since October last year giving local pupils free dance tuition.

An average of 80 pupils has been participating in the weekly sessions which also include pupils from Redriff and St James’s primary schools.

“We can see a greater confidence in the children who have taken part, both physically and mentally,” says Fran Burke, arts co-ordinator at Alfred Salter Primary School.

“This has had a positive effect on both their work in the classroom and at play.”

The project is funded by The Ironmongers’ Company who enable CSB to provide dance teaching staff, a pianist and a dance uniform for the pupils.

Jess Mahoney, learning and participation manager at Central School of Ballet, said: “We have been delighted with the progress made by students taking part in the first year of our exciting satellite school project.  We are now hopeful of raising sufficient funds to allow us to continue these classes during the next academic year, meaning children in Southwark can enjoy access to free regular ballet classes, learning to love dance in a safe and supportive environment.”