As Christmas creeps closer, it’s quite possibly time to purchase some presents for your nearest and dearest – unless they only deserve a lump of coal this year…
Here is a round-up of the festive events The Charlton Champion has details of so far, but please let us know if you’re organising something that we’ve not spotted yet. Send us a message or leave a comment below, and we’ll update this list over the coming weeks.
Thursday 13 December has the British Oak pub on Old Dover Road hosting an 8pm Beer and Carols night in conjunction with St John’s Church, Blackheath.
On Christmas Day The Old Cottage Coffee Shop in Charlton Park are running its annual Christmas lunch for the elderly and it need volunteers and donations for the day. Please get in touch in person or on Twitter.
Governors at Sherington Primary School have scrapped plans to break away from council control and become an academy, parents have been told this morning.
Teachers and local councillors had campaigned against the proposal, which would have seen the highly-regarded school join the Leigh Academies Trust chain.
But a letter from the school’s governing body states that while the school faces “challenges” in the future, “we are better placed to address them as a local authority maintained school than as part of the Leigh Academies Trust”.
The school will now remain controlled by Greenwich Council – and be directly funded by it – rather than breaking away and joining the Kent-based Leigh chain, and getting its cash from central government.
The letter says: “We promised to make this choice in the best interests of children now and in the future. That meant choosing the option that gave us the best prospect of financial sustainability and stability; the strongest opportunities for the recruitment, retention and development of high quality staff; and the best chance of delivering a sustainable school in a changing environment. The Governing Body has concluded that while these challenges remain, we are better placed to address them as a local authority maintained school than as part of the Leigh Academies Trust.
“Sherington is a great school, but there is some hard work to be done to make sure we stay that way and remain fit for the future. Working in partnerships with other schools and organisations is already an important part of the school’s operating model, and will become more so. We look forward to working closely with the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and to making the most of the partnership opportunities and other support they can provide.
“We would like to thank the staff of the Leigh Academies Trust for the candid and helpful information they have provided and also the parents, carers and staff who have asked questions, presented views and taken part in an emotive debate over the last few weeks.
“This has not been an easy process by any means, but it’s important that we are able to show our Sherington children that we can have difficult conversations and conduct them in a courteous, respectful and positive way.”
Friday update: Local Democracy Reporter Tom Bull writes: Greenwich Council deputy leader and cabinet member for education David Gardner said: “It is brilliant and very welcome news that Sherington Primary School governing body has voted to continue as an outstanding Greenwich community school.
“Governors decisively rejected academisation and, after a long and rigorous process evaluating all the options, and decided the best partnership remained with the borough.
“My personal congratulations to the parents, staff and Charlton community who campaigned so effectively to stay ‘Greenwich and proud’.”
Squeeze frontman Glenn Tilbrook is asking fans to bring food to his solo show at Blackheath Halls next month, which is part of a tour aimed at helping the Trussell Trust charity.
The Charlton-based singer is promoting awareness of the charity, which operates 420 foodbanks across the country, including the Greenwich and Lewisham foodbanks which serve Blackheath.
There will be food drop points and collection boxes at the show on Friday 14 December, while all Tilbrook’s profits from merchandise, which includes a four-track EP, will be donated to the trust.
Tilbrook says: “It is shameful that in the 21st century there are people that can’t afford to put food on the table. Anyone, from any walk of life, can fall upon dire times, and I hope that by doing this tour it will remind people that there is a very real need.
“Most of us can do something to help – be it giving some food or a little money – and I hope people coming to the shows are inspired to donate.”
Three years ago, Tilbrook changed the lyrics to the Squeeze song Cradle to the Grave during a live performance on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, on which David Cameron was a guest. “There are some here who are hellbent, on the destruction of the welfare state,” he sang.
Charlton’s two C of E churches, St Luke’s and St Thomas’, are pledging to do more in the community over the next few years. REVD LIZ NEWMAN, the rector of the Benefice of Charlton, outlines its new action plan, which includes setting up a youth cafe and schemes to combat loneliness and social injustice.
What is mission? In the Church, one short answer to that question is that it’s “finding out what God is doing and then joining in!” But before we can join in, we need to listen to what’s happening.
At St Luke’s and St Thomas’ churches, we’ve been doing a lot of listening over the past year. Listening to our community, to ourselves and to God. As a result we’ve come to some conclusions about what we believe God is calling us to be and do. And we’ve decided on our priorities for the next three to five years.
So what is top of our list? Where are we going to put energy, time and love?
Engaging and nurturing children and young people
Sharing our faith confidently
Reaching isolated groups
Better community engagement
The recent United Nations report on poverty in this country highlighted shocking statistics about the impact on our poorest communities of living with little. Knife crime and gang culture is taking and ruining far too many young lives in our city. We live in challenging times of injustice, and that is a concern to people of all faiths and none.
Jesus was on the side of the poor and dispossessed, and following his example means we need to be as well. We are already part of Greenwich Winter Night Shelter, which houses 15 homeless people through the coldest months of the winter. And we have plans to start an open access Youth Café, to strengthen and extend our existing Schools Project, to run fun activities for children during school holidays, to develop a mental wellbeing project and a social justice project and to grow a project that will combat loneliness.
Charlton is a place that is set to grow hugely in the coming years. We need to be able to live together well, so that everyone can belong and flourish. St Thomas’, St Luke’s and St Richards Church Centre want to work with our local communities for the good of all.
We have plans to make connections with people and places in our local area that we haven’t had relationships with before, to develop our churches as community hubs and to continue to work with other local people and the council to ensure that Charlton Riverside becomes a true community where there is plenty of affordable and social housing.
Our faith motivates who we are and what we do. Because we believe in a God of love, in whose sight we are all precious, we want to meet people where they are and help them discover that good news for themselves. So we’re building our own confidence and aiming to grow new congregations at St Luke’s, St Thomas and St Richard’s. They won’t necessarily look like traditional church, because traditional church isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But that’s fine, because if church listens and adapts, there is room for everyone. And of course, we’ll be aiming to grow traditional church as well!
The teachings of Christ underpin all that we do. We’re striving to be people who are joyful, live in loving relationship with God and our neighbours, are good listeners, forgive, work for justice and celebrate diversity. We have a lot of plans and we know we’re being ambitious! But we are trusting and living in hope. And on the way, we’re expecting to discover what we’re here on this earth for.
We believe Charlton is the place that God has given us to love and we look forward to doing just that over the years to come. If you want to know more, please visit our website at www.charlton.church. And, whoever and whatever you are, you will always be welcome at our churches and to join in the adventure that lies ahead.
Charlton Champion exclusive: Greenwich Council deputy leader David Gardner has apologised to the academy chain hoping to run a Charlton primary school after criticising it in a letter issued to parents.
Sherington Primary School is in talks with Leigh Academies Trust about becoming joining its academy chain, which includes 18 schools across south-east London and Kent.
But now Gardner, who is cabinet member for education, has backtracked on his criticism, with Greenwich Council saying “the words … could have been better chosen”.
In the letter, Gardner told parents that Greenwich had a strong record in running primary schools and there was “no pot of gold at the end of the academy rainbow”. He also criticised the high salaries paid to the chief executives and directors of academy chains, taken from a 5-10% “top slicing” of school budgets going towards their central funds, adding that Greenwich schools only paid 1% into central funds.
He also said: “Leigh Academy Trust does not have a good record. Its two secondary schools in Greenwich are among the worst performers and their primary record outside the borough does not match Greenwich’s performance.”
Leigh runs two Greenwich schools for which results are available – a third, Leigh Academy Blackheath, opened in Woolwich in September, and plans to eventually occupy the former Blackheath Bluecoat School site close to Sherington.
The first Leigh school, Stationers’ Crown Woods Academy in Eltham, has a Progress 8 – a measure of children’s progress between the ages of 11 and 16 – rating of “well below average”. But it has only run its second school, Halley Academy – the former Kidbrooke comprehensive school – since March 2018. Before that, it was known as Corelli College, and had also scored “well below average”.
Apologised to Leigh
A Greenwich Council spokesperson told The Charlton Champion: “Cllr Gardner has played an active role supporting Sherington parents and staff wishing to remain as an outstanding community school. In this respect he has made some comments about comparative performance with an academy trust in Full Council and at a public meeting. He was asked to supply the thrust of his speech to parents which was then circulated.
“On reflection, Cllr Gardner realised the words used in the letter of what he said at the public meeting should have been better chosen and apologised himself to the Leigh MAT [multi -academy trust] accordingly. The main issue being that Leigh acquired The Halley Academy on 1 March 2018 (the former Corelli Academy). GCSE results for Corelli College in 2018 belong to the former Trust which operated the school and not Leigh.
“Further, the council recognise that Leigh has made a real effort to turn around Halley this year to improve the outcomes and life chances for our young people at that school. It also recognises the successful launch of Leigh Academy Blackheath which is already proving to be a popular local choice for parents.”
The council did not comment on whether Leigh Academies Trust had complained about Gardner’s statement. The trust itself has not responded to a request for comment from The Charlton Champion.
Strains inside Greenwich Council
While Greenwich Council’s Labour administration has sought to present a united front over academisation, Gardner’s apology highlights the strains between different factions within the Labour group over the issue.
Councillors and members on the left of the party are fiercely opposed to schools being taken out of local authority control and handed to academy chains that are directly funded by central government, and want the council to do more to oppose the likes of Sherington and John Roan schools becoming academies.
But the council’s leadership, which is on the right of the party, has attempted to build bridges with the chains while criticising the government’s policy of forcing “failing” schools to become academies.
Gardner, who fits in neither camp, has attempted to bridge the two positions in what is widely regarded as an extremely difficult role.
Parents at Sherington are fearing strikes as the row over possible academisation escalates. It was revealed in September that the school was talking to the Leigh and Compass academy trusts about joining them, and Rochester-based Leigh is now seen as the likely choice.
Teachers have already written to its governing body outlining their concerns at plans for the school to explore joining Leigh.
A mile away at John Roan secondary school in Blackheath, which faces becoming part of the University Schools Trust chain after a poor Ofsted rating, pupils have already lost two days of education because of industrial action, although plans for three more were called off last week.
We were delighted to sell out our first print run of Charlton Champion postcards this week – thanks to everyone who called by the Corner At 96 to buy one, and to everyone who’s ordered one since. Proceeds from the sales all go to help keep this community website running. They’re now back in stock and available to order online here.
If you’d like to place a larger order, are interested in stocking them in your shop, cafe or business, or have an idea as to what we should produce next, then please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!
A simple and informal ceremony this morning saw the present day firefighters from Greenwich Fire Station honouring their Second World War counterparts, twelve of whom were killed at Invicta Primary School on the night of 14 November 1940 when the school was in use as Station 54X of the Auxiliary Fire Service.
Ironically, it was a quiet night in London, with the main focus of the Luftwaffe’s attacks being the city of Coventry. It was because of this lack of activity in the capital that the firemen based at Invicta Road were still at their station when the parachute mine that was to destroy the school drifted down. The explosion buried the men under tons of rubble and apart from the twelve firemen, three civilians, including the school caretaker, were killed.