Education…the means by which men and women…discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. (Freire, 2000, p.34)
Any history of Walthamstow will draw attention to our rich and deep rooted culture of creativity, innovation and community. Walthamstow is a truly dynamic community, open, welcoming and growing. Residents rub shoulders with ease along the High Street, in the Village and along Blackhorse Road, Hoe and Wood Street. From Pakistan to Poland, Romania to Jamaica, India to Turkey and Lea Bridge to Higham Hill, the rich heritage of its residents brings vibrancy to the borough. ‘Traversing’ Walthamstow market you come to realise the true diversity, listening in on conversations in Urdu, Polish, Romanian, Turkish, Lithuanian and East End banter.
The Stow Festival, Garden Party and Art Trail. Lloyd Park and the William Morris Gallery. The Vestry House Museum and the architectural splendour of St James Street, the Waltham Forest Council buildings and our Warner homes. Our cycle network and market, breweries and neon cafe. Walthamstow has a cultural and creative heart.
The multicultural makeup of residents, and its school age population, presents both a challenge and an opportunity for schooling within Walthamstow. The past, present and future of Walthamstow offers a unique situation, and for those willing to seize this chance the possibility for greatness. Walthamstow and education within the borough is at a turning point as the face of the borough is transformed with an enhanced focus upon its future.
Together we have an opportunity to build a future for Walthamstow and its youth which will make the borough a destination for educational innovation.
In line with projected demographic growth within the borough, conservatively estimated to increase by 16,700 by 2021, those within the 5-15 age range will represent a significant number. Between 2016 and 2021 it is projected that the population within this age category will grow by 3,500. The pressure is already evident with filled primary school places across the borough far exceeding the number of spaces available within the boroughs secondary schools. If numbers remain stable, when students look to transition to secondary school in 2017, 18 and beyond they will find it extremely difficult to find an available place. Walthamstow residents will particularly feel this shortage of available spaces.
Waltham Forest Council estimates that significant additional secondary school places will be needed by 2020, based on current projected numbers. By 2018 it is estimated that a further 17 forms of entry need to be made available for those entering into Year 7. Yet these figures are likely to increase into the future beyond these estimates, especially within Walthamstow where two significant housing developments near Blackhorse Road and South Grove, and a third proposed development on the High Street, will put additional pressure on school places.
Waltham Forest plans to address this shortfall through a variety of strategies, including:
- working with schools to ensure that available places are taken up;
- expansion of existing schools; and
- the establishment of new schools.
As the chart above indicates 4 new Forms of Entry were added to Waltham Forest schools. However the capacity of secondaries within Walthamstow are already stretched and space for further growth limited (See here Waltham Forests analysis of space and need).
The proposed opening of a new 8 Forms of Entry secondary school in the Lea Bridge area (The Lion Trust/Barclay Academy), will draw predominantly from Leyton and from within Hackney. If this academy were to open then if would meet secondary place needs up until 2019/20. However this proposed academy has been delayed several times due to planning concerns and concerns that it will fail to meet the needs of Waltham Forest. Building plans have yet to be submitted and building work to begun. If this academy were to get the final go ahead by the Dfe (which recently blocked its progression) it is unlikely to be complete and welcoming students sooner than 2020. As such the emerging desperate need for places will not be dealt with. Infinity School offers a solution.
In addition to the pressing need presented by number and space a need also exists within Walthamstow for fair access, choice and in an offer which provides enhanced variety of provision. In some areas of Walthamstow no or very little choice exists for a local education. As an example a boy of a non Christian denomination living on Wood Street has no choice at all when it comes to immediate local provision. One of the largest Wards, Higham Hill, has only one secondary school which exists on its far border limiting ‘easy’ access to its residents. The William Morris Ward fails to provide a local option at all. Similarly the Hoe Street Ward has no secondary school serving males of the local community (See a break down of school’s and wards in E17). A new school based in the heart of Walthamstow and with an open selection criteria not bound by ‘catchment areas’ would increase choice whilst not impacting negatively on neighbouring schools.
Schools within Walthamstow have made steady improvements in terms of provision and educational outcomes and the 2016 GCSE results highlight this continued growth. Waltham Forest and with it Walthamstow are in-line or slightly above national averages in key measures at Key Stage 4. However schools are at the lower end of the scale when compared with London wide averages regarding results at Key Stage 4. (See here for the Waltham Forest Hub analysis of school performance for 2015).
However education in London as a whole has improved greatly in recent times distorting the fact that large improvements have been made in the borough and within its secondary schools. We wish to praise the hard work of Waltham Forest schools and their ongoing success. We seek to contribute to and not deter from Waltham Forests ambition for
all schools and students [to] have high aspirations and excellent attainment levels on a par with the best in London, that our schools promote resilience and wellbeing and that young people successfully move into further education, training and employment.(Waltham Forest, The Hub)
Infinity School provides a potential solution to the above issues (providing much needed additional school places, enhanced choice and helping diversify further provision) but also offers a different approach to education. Our innovative approach to school design, our unique pedagogy and our real-world curriculum will provide a truly relevant and authentic education.
We are committed to providing an education which will help Waltham Forest and its family of schools, which we very much intend to join, to reach its identified goals of
Improved KS4 attainment across the board and equity in performance across the borough
The positive impact of the pupil premium is maximised, so that every eligible child sees a benefit
A successful secondary sector, building on the success of primary schools
Secondary sector is financially sustainable and secure, and the first choice for local parents
Our Mission & Culture, our Vision for Education, our Design Principles and our Distinguishing Features shape and represent the Infinity Education. At the centre of this education is our unique, dynamic and above all authentic, Infinity Curriculum: The Infinity Baccalaureate.
In this combination Infinity School offers Walthamstow a vision of education which matches the rich tradition for innovation and creativity embodied by this borough and its residents throughout our centuries long history.