New Nunhead school building to close four years after it was opened

By Robert Firth, local democracy reporter

Town hall chiefs have headed off a furious reaction from parents and councillors to a proposal to close a four-year-old award-winning multi-million pound building.

Southwark council officers had suggested cutting the number of students each year at Ivydale Primary School in Nunhead by a third from 90 to 60.

But the borough’s ruling cabinet has acted swiftly to scrap the cut in the number of pupil places.

The proposal would have seen the school downsize to one building from next year – and the closure of the £8million Inverton Road site, which opened in 2018.

It was constructed to meet a surging demand for school places in Southwark and doubled the school’s capacity.

The building was awarded a prize by the Royal Institute of British Architects for its design.

But under plans to cut the number of reception classes from two to three, the building would have no longer been needed.

Instead all pupils would have been taught at the primary school’s Victorian site on Ivydale Road from September 2022.

The school accepted 90 reception students in the 2021/2022 academic year and is expected to recruit the same amount in 2022/23.

Council documents said cutting the numbers of students “will help to right size capacity across the locality, and enable Ivydale to reorganise as a strong 2FE [two form entry] school.”

But parents say the school is popular and there is no need to reduce its intake.

A petition created by Peckham Rye councillor Victoria Mills, a member of the ruling Labour group, demanding the school remain on two sites has been signed by almost 500 people.

It says: “We oppose Southwark Council’s proposals to close the Inverton Road building from September 2022 returning the school to a single site.

“Many local children will not be able to secure places at a smaller school.

“By moving to one site the remaining building and playground will be overcrowded. There will be 20 classes on a site that is capable of only accommodating 15 classes.

“We ask that the leader of Southwark Council and the cabinet member for children and schools reject these proposals and look for alternative ways to reduce deficits in the borough’s school budgets.”

Mills also tweeted: “Southwark Council’s proposal to return Ivydale School to a single site are wrong. Local councillors are opposed. This will be detrimental to kids’ education & to a school that is at the heart of our community. We are arranging a meeting with Leader of the council & Cabinet member.”

Another resident, Eli Marr, tweeted: “This is absolutely bonkers. This will not only impact education for the children, but also have a serious impact on the local community. Leave Ivydale school as it currently is. It’s an amazing school at the moment, which in turn creates a great local community.”

Commenting on the petition, one resident said: “This is an utter waste of a brand-new, award-winning school building, and appears to offer a reduced quality of education to children. If the purpose is to save money, there must be a better way.”

Another said: “All children need and deserve safe and enriching space in which to learn and play. Reducing the intake and taking away the extra space at Ivydale which so many people worked so hard for is a nonsensical decision on so many levels.”

Southwark cabinet member for education and deputy leader Councillor Jasmine Ali said: “I can confirm that the council has removed Ivydale from the proposals to be considered at Cabinet on Pupil Admission Numbers (PAN) and therefore the PAN for Ivydale remains at 90. The cabinet report is being urgently updated to reflect this. 

“The school is currently running a budget deficit and that will need to be resolved to ensure the future sustainability of the school. At no point had the council considered building on the school site and social media comments on that are unfounded.

“The current demographic changes impacting on pupil numbers such as the declining birth rate, uncertainties of Brexit and now a pandemic – which has shown that it is now possible to maintain a job in London while living further afield – remain a risk for many London primary schools. The council is committed to working with all Southwark schools, parents and the local community on plans to navigate our way through demographic challenge.”

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One thought on “New Nunhead school building to close four years after it was opened

  • Its ridiculous, old school site was not fit for purpose with the number of pupils the school has, it was a dangerous and poor learning environment with the high volume of children.

    Much better over two sites.

    Though council has a huge defect in finances, largely due to the current government and their austerity measures.


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