ISSN 0963-8253

Volume 53 Number 3 2011


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Moving in Darkness: back to the future at Crown Woods College


At the end of July 2011 The Guardian reported on the recently opened Crown Woods College in Eltham, South-East London. The College had been rebuilt on the site of the previous Crown Woods School with 50 million of funding via the Building Schools for the Future project. Its nine buildings include four 'mini-schools', one of which is a sixth form, alongside a state-of-the-art gym, a building for children with moderate learning difficulties, special educational needs (SEN) or visual impairment, and a technology and design centre. Media interest was aroused by the way the College had extended its previous policy of streaming students by 'ability'. Each mini-school (leaving aside the sixth form) operates separately from the others and is populated by students deemed to be only of a particular 'ability'. Since each mini-school has its own uniform, Crown Woods College students are effectively identified in public by 'ability', with mini-school populations prevented from mixing. The Guardian's headline was: 'School Colour-Codes Pupils by Ability'. The Guardian's report, which generated some 250 comments, was picked up by other newspapers. Elements of the original were reproduced on blog sites and Internet-discussion forums. In an article also published by The Guardian, FORUM board member Melissa Benn took up some of the issues raised by the public funding of a segregated state school. We reproduce that article, along with a piece by fellow board member Patrick Yarker, who taught English at Crown Woods school.

To cite this article

PATRICK YARKER, MELISSA BENN (2011) Moving in Darkness: back to the future at Crown Woods College, FORUM, 53(3), 421-428.


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