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A Straight Line Walk Across London
by Paul K Lyons
69 - Ofsted's little flaw, the growth of an art school and trade union training
Just before Hornsey Rise reaches its modest summit, I pass a Shell petrol station, which seems to be enclosed on three sides by a large conglomeration of flats, and Hornsey Lane on my left. At this point the road becomes Crouch End Hill and I cross into the London Borough of Haringey. A bridge takes me over the disused railway line, now the Parkland Walk, which connects Finsbury Park and Highgate. Below the bridge are the concrete platforms of the old Crouch End station but no station buildings or rail lines any longer. By the bridge's side, though, there's the acid yellow Crescent Cafe.
The Coleridge Primary School, on the west side of Crouch End Hill, provides full time education for around 400 pupils aged from four to eleven, most of whom are considered ethnically white. Following its inspection in 2000, Ofsted gave the school an excellent report. Moreover, in the summary of the parents' questionnaire, the report noted that 446 respondents 'strongly agreed' with the statement that 'behaviour is good'. This was a fantastic response, considering only 78 questionnaires were actually returned. Ofsted needs to go back to school and study some maths or proof-reading or both. Outside the school gates, pinned on several tree trunks, there are colourful 'Soup Dragon' posters advertising a 'Fantastic Sale' of children's winter and summer clothing, wooden toys including dolls houses, farm yards and furniture.
A large plot on the east side of Crouch End Hill is taken up by the National Education Centre, a Trades Union Congress (TUC) establishment. The TUC says it is 'the major provider of training and development services for professional trade union officers and staff'. The kinds of courses available include: advanced tribunal practice; advocacy skills; black and asian workers programme; contemporary issues in discrimination law; contract law and the small claims court; creative management of stress; disciplinary and grievance procedures; essentials of employment law; negotiation skills; organising for the European information and consultation directive; public speaking and time management.
For nearly a 100 years, until the 1970s, though, this site was occupied by Hornsey College of Art (under various names), now part of Middlesex University. In 1882, an artist and teacher called Charles Swinstead opened the first school - in specially commissioned buildings (still extant) - teaching subjects such as drawing, oil painting, watercolours, geometry and perspective. When he died in 1890, his son took over. By the turn of century, the school was securing grants from Middlesex County Council, and new subjects, such as modelling, design and wood carving, had been added to the syllabus. After World War One, London County Council took over full financial responsibility. A new extension was opened in 1931, and, after World War Two, photography was added to the curriculum. Subsequently, the college grew rapidly, expanding into several annexes scattered around north London, until, in the 1970s, the college regrouped in premises at Cat Hill (which is little more than a giant pounce or two northward from Crouch End). In the early 1980s, the TUC added further buildings to this complex on Crouch End Hill.
Christ Church, on the same side of the road as the school but a few yards further down the hill, dates from 1860s. It was designed by Arthur Blomfield, Thomas Hardy's one-time boss, and built of ragstone with a large stained glass window (now protected by a metal grill) facing east on to Crouch End Hill. Sunday services are held at 8am, 10:30am and 5pm. The church noticeboard promises a 'warm welcome'. A poster, with a picture of a compass, asks if I'm 'looking for direction?' and then assures me I've 'found the right place'.
A Straight Line Walk Across London - along the 300 easting
by Paul K Lyons
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