Abacus Belsize Primary School
News Update July 2021
The Ham&High reports that the Haverstock School is in discussions with the Department for Education and Abacus Belsize Primary School over a deal which would see the Free School move onto the Haverstock site. Abacus has lacked a permanent home since its founding in September 2013. A Camden Council spokesperson said the aim is to have the new site ready for the 2022/23 school year. Full details here
Why Abacus wants to move into the old Police Station
As one of the co-founders of Abacus Belsize Primary School, I would like to dispel some of the myths I have seen flying around as a result of the application to convert the former police station on Rosslyn Hill into its permanent home from September 2017.
Myth: Hampstead already has 55 schools so there is no need for another one.
Fact: having lived in Belsize and Hampstead for 19 years, I can name 33 primary schools including Abacus. I may have missed a few but 55 is an absurd claim; of the 33, 19 are private, fee-paying schools, which are unaffordable and/or undesirable to many local people. Another six are schools with admissions criteria requiring church attendance, which again is unpalatable to many families. This leaves eight community state primary schools (including Abacus) open to all. Due to the high standard of education across Camden schools, these schools are massively oversubscribed.
Four of the eight are one-form entry, which compounds the oversubscription and small catchment areas they serve. None of these schools are in the Belsize ward, despite it being densely populated with families and consistently having one of the highest birth rates in the borough. True, the original bid to the Department for Education in 2011/12 was for a one-form entry school. But the lack of a suitable site in Belsize led to acquisition of the former police station, which is too large to function economically as a one-form entry school and gives scope to offer more families a real choice in where to educate their children.
Myth: there are numerous sites in Belsize Park to put the school.
Fact: there are none in fact. As founders we combed every street in the area for years and acted as local eyes and ears to assist the Education Funding Agency finding the school a permanent home. EFA assessed dozens of public and privately owned buildings in the vicinity and the school was very much a part of that process.
Myth: there will be more congestion and traffic as a result of Abacus using the police station.
Fact: Abacus is a walking school! Parents apply knowing this is part of its ethos and expected behaviour. A growing number of the children attending live in or close to Belsize.
Fact: people walk to good schools if they are a reasonable distance away. Yes even four-year-olds. I walked my children from Belsize to New End every day for five years because it is a great school. The traffic in Hampstead is horrendous but, as the majority of schools in the area are private, the school-run traffic cannot be blamed on those travelling to state schools. Yes, there will be occasions when parents unavoidably have to drive, but routinely driving to school is absolutely against the school’s ethos.
Myth: the school does not engage with the local community.
Fact: the school was built by the community and in the three years that it has been open, in two different temporary homes, has started to build links with numerous local businesses, the library, other schools and Camden Council. It has done the same in its second temporary site in King’s Cross, and will do so in its permanent home. It will bring vibrancy to the bottom end of Hampstead – and bring it on foot.
As part of the planning consultation, there is a public exhibition on April 28 from 3.30pm-8pm at the WAC Arts Centre. All are welcome and we look forward to finally being able to share the proposed plans for the conversion of this wonderful building into Abacus’s new home.
Chair of Governors, Abacus Belsize Primary School
Ofsted Abacus Belsize Primary School
Report May 2015
Overall Effectiveness: Outstanding
Abacus Free School seeks Michael Gove’s support to move into Hampstead Police Station or Belsize Fire Station read full Ham&High article here...