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A good time for primary schools

Opinion London’s primary schools are about to become much more welcoming places, says Simon Innes

The public face of the typical primary school in London is about to change dramatically. Up until now the typical school has been open only to its pupils. But now the government’s Extended Schools agenda (which requires all primary schools to offer more services over a longer day by 2010) and the second wave of Children’s Centres (venues offering care for 0-5 year olds and partfunded by Sure Start) are going to unlock these schools to outsiders. The new services offered by these two separate initiatives extend to health and social care.

The typical Victorian London primary school is a handsome three-storey structure sitting in a tarmac lake and surrounded by a (sometimes beautiful) 3m-high brick wall. Some of the nine new Children’s Centres in Southwark – a pioneer borough for the initiatives – will be in buildings that cut through these brick walls and occupy the gap, facing outwards. A new bird is about to nest in the fortress wall. HKR’s Ivydale School is typical of these new projects, and will create a new public space outside the front entrance of the existing school. Southwark is an imaginative borough and is using a variety of architects for this work: HKR, Architype, Eger Architects and Alexi Marmot Associates among them.

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