I've just got back from witnessing one of the best good news stories in Coulsdon: the groundbreaking ceremony for the new buildings at Oasis Academy, Coulsdon. I was asked to say a prayer at the burial of a time capsule. (It 's the second time I've been asked to do this is as many months.) It was only to be a temporary burial, as later the capsule will be placed under the floor of the new reception block. I joked by saying that most burials I officiate at stay down permanently.
Since the Academy opened just over 2 years ago the learning community there has been transformed. The first time I visited, just after the opening, I was struck by the atmosphere of quiet but energetic activity. The skill of the senior management, the care of the staff, the responsibility given to older students - this all makes for a community that is buzzing and positive. Local residents have noticed the change in behaviour at the nearby bus stops. Several of the students joined in our church 750th anniversary celebrations by helping at our Medieval Banquet, and by writing and collecting good news stories.
What particularly pleases me is to see a school that is not separate from the local community, but is wanting to be part of it. An increasing number of children from the local schools are applying for places, and I hope it will soon become the first choice for many Coulsdon parents.
The Academy has a strong Christian character, but an open admissions policy. That chimes very well with the mission that a parish church such as St John's has. It means that any children, whatever their background, can apply and then will be part of a transforming experience.
The new buildings are going to look fantastic. You can follow a virtual tour here: http://www.oasisacademycoulsdon.org/academy-life/galleries/view/item8857/
I was talking to one of the design engineers after the ceremony and he was really excited about the design of the new buildings in the use of space and light, energy and natural air-conditioning. The students who use these new premises will be very luck indeed. But actually they are even more fortunate to have such a motivated teaching staff.
If you are thinking about a secondary school place for your children, do consider Oasis Academy: Coulsdon.