All change at Coulsdon's newest school
by Jolene Hill
Hundreds of Coulsdon pupils will be walking through the doors of a brand new school this morning as the Oasis Academy, Coulsdon opens for business.
The rebirth of Coulsdon High has been mired in controversy since Croydon Council announced it was going to close the struggling high school and replace it with an academy last July.
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But for new head John Murphy, making sure the new academy provides the best education for its 650 pupils.
The former head teacher of John Paul II School in Wandsworth told the Advertiser he wanted the school to be a community hub, as well as an excellent learning environment.
He said: "It's a fresh start, a new beginning for a new school. We are going to provide the community with a high achieving but inclusive academy for all."
The school in Homefield Road, Old Coulsdon, has been repainted and the uniform has changed so pupils will be sporting a darker green tie with their black blazers.
The library has been transformed into a Year 11 study area complete with plasma information screens – all made possible by a government cash injection.
Students at the academy which specialises in technology, and business and enterprise, will also be allocated a teaching mentor who they will see everyday, to guide them through problems.
The academy has a health centre and a teacher training college, and from this week is offering computer classes and adult education classes to the community, and activities such as family cooking sessions.
The progress of the new academy will be watched with interest by parents and the community.
The Advertiser revealed last month how it was the most unpopular school in the borough, with only 25 parents selecting it as their first choice for this school year.
And Coulsdon High has been closed in the year it celebrated its best ever GCSE results, under previous head teacher Colin Mackinlay, with 41 per cent of pupils gaining five A* to C passes, including English and maths.
But Mr Murphy, 41, who has been teaching for 18 years said he was delighted by the admission figures.
He said there were 110 pupils on the Year 7 roll book compared with 87 last year.
And, he added at least 650 pupils would be attending the school in September which surpassed predictions of 597.
He added: "We will be judged on our performance and I am happy to be judged on our performance, and of course on the love and care we give our students."
"The most important thing is that the decisions we make is in good integrity and in the best interests of the children, and that's all we are concerned about."
Other plans for the future of the academy include opening a sixth form in 2011, a nursery in 2009 and expanding the school to 1,150 students by 2011/12.
This will be helped by a government cash injection of £20m in 2009, for the construction of new education and sports facilities.