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Think again on Carlton Primary School closure, urges arts leader

Camden continues to consider future of long-standing primary school

10 January, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Debbi Clark

AN arts leader has called for a primary school to be saved from possible closure.

Debbi Clark, chief executive of the Arts Foundation in Queen’s Crescent, said she was concerned by discussions surrounding the future of Carlton Primary School in Grafton Road. She said: “The council have to take notice of this school. It’s a family – they all show respect to each other like brothers and sisters.”

The New Journal revealed last year how Camden had raised the possibility of closure due to a boroughwide lack of applications to its primary schools.

Ms Clark said: “A third of children who come to our gallery have come from Carlton Primary and they’ve all shown a great aptitude for the arts. Every child from the school that has attended the workshop and have shown discipline. They haven’t missed a single session.”

She runs Sir Hubert von Herkomer arts foundation gallery, which itself was under threat of closure last year, just a stone’s throw from the school. Funding is strictly based on how many pupils are enrolled, and Carlton is operating at around 60 per cent capacity at its historic Victorian building.

Closure is not a done deal, however, and one possible way of staying open is to use parts of the site for rental income. School applications close on Monday, which represents a chance to boost rolls and show the council how much it is wanted.

Ms Clark spoke to the New Journal at the school’s winter fair in December where children were selling products they made during classes as part of their entrepreneurial “Building Brighter Futures” challenge – each year group is given £50 to create a business idea and whatever profit they make is used for an end-of-term trip.

Fincie Door is a nursery nurse who has been at the school for 42 years.

She said: “I went here as a child and met my husband here. We didn’t get together until we were 18 but we met here. Infants and juniors were separated during that time and we had two separate headteachers. I have made so many friends here and we still keep in touch.”

Carol Parry, another nursery nurse, has been at the school for 15 years. She said: “It’s the kind of school you come to and never want to leave. Here at Carlton we do so much for the children. Anything they need we will do it.”

A Camden Council spokesman said “no decisions have been made yet”, adding: “This September the number of reception children admitted to Camden schools was down 9 per cent – 145 pupils – compared with the 2015 intake. This means that across Camden we now have around 15 per cent more primary school places than we need. Our funding is based on how many places we fill, so we need to manage our school estate with this in mind. We have a duty to work with headteachers and chairs of governors to ensure that our schools are viable, financially secure and successful going into the future. We will consult with parents, governors and interested parties on any proposals that come out of these discussions.”

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