14 of us stuffed our faces with pizza, pudding and cake, but still managed to talk about things, such as….

Hillcrest Primary
Cath reported that a new group, ‘CAFE’, is meeting to discuss the problems at Hillcrest primary school and how they can support the school. CAFE = Community Action for Education, they meet every Thursday at 6.30pm at the West Indian Centre.
They are a group of local educationalists and community social justice activists who got together after seeing the YEP article in January, ‘The Leeds School which runs anger-management courses for 5-year-olds’. It was based on OFSTED reports from June/10 and December/11, which said Hillcrest was making ‘inadequate progress’, ‘with a high volume of staff absence’, and nearly 40 pupils excluded last year.

They are meeting with the council, governors, the head teacher, parents and others to find out the extent of the problems that Hillcrest faces and will hold a public meeting to share their findings and their suggestions for what we can do.

Hillcrest has a lot of problems (including 43 languages spoken, a very transient population, children arriving with low educational attainment, a lot of young parents or parents who don’t speak very good English, plus lots more), but these problems seem to be dealt with much better by other local schools, so there is hope.

Hopefully someone who was in this discussion can write it up, but it was to discuss how it might be possible to help the more vulnerable among us a bit more – elderly people, new arrivals, etc.

Sikh Free School Application
There was some discussion about concerns over the application by the Sikh Temple to build a free school on the old church site, opposite the current temple.

Concerns included:
– that perhaps it would be quite a faith-based school and not suitable for/accessible to children from other communities
– that ‘free schools’ deprive other local schools in their area of money they would otherwise get. In the context of the Hillcrest discussion, this seemed quite pertinent
– rumours about discord in the Sikh community at the Temple.
There wasn’t anyone from the project around to defend it, so it feels a bit rude to go into the concerns here in depth, but most of those present were against the plan.

Other stuff
We had a quick update from the Food Festival group (a plan which was hatched during the first conversation back in September) and also some info about Chapeltown Development Trust.

There were 4 or 5 new people who were all enthusiastic about coming again – here’s to the next one: Wed 23rd May, 6-9pm