Free Primary 160m from existing undersubscribed GOOD primary!!

Tracy Hannigan's picture
Hello. I am a parent at Addison Primary School in West London. Addison is a two form entry primary, rated a good school and is well known for the incredible progress its pupils make during their time. It is also well known for being the first primary in London to earn the Values Quality mark. There is a strong heritage of musical talents within the school. Despite the vast diversity, there is a very strong 'community' at Addison.

A local businessman who sells services to schools has solicited, by questionable means, to promote placement of Rivendale Free School. The support for demand was essentially a streetside questionnaire of 'schools are full, do you think a new school is a good idea?'

They found a site in the Borough first, rather than finding an area which needed pupils and then finding a location. The proposed location is a very popular NHS Health Centre - about 160 metres from the entrance to Addison. (!!)

They claim need, but Addison and other local primaries have vacancies due to the massive amount of migration in the immediate area. That has often been the case, and when it has not, local schools have been asked to support a bulge. This time they have not.

Internal data show that pupils leave for migration reasons rather than dissatisfaction. The council shows no data for need in this Ward other than political.

They claim something 'extra' - when we offer equal to what they can plus stability, accountability and experience. They spin things 'we will offer admissions to SEN and pupils in care first' as if it is unusual. 'We will offer Latin' - when Addison offers Latin. The HeadDesignate has no primary headteaching experience at all. And the admission seem to be in contravention of law. They are taking applications in person because LA procedures have closed, and they are offering pupils places alongside the LA.

The site is also located on a narrow road which is parked on both sides. They promise a policy of public transport to school, but this is unenforceable. With irony, the only place to park at that time of the morning is on the zigzags in front of Addison.

The grounds are small, so they are placing a play area on top of the building. The required fence atop the roof will result in a huge change in the character of our local area.

So this is our struggle. I've started to rally the troops via this site. Wish us luck!!

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Rosemary Mann's picture
Mon, 14/02/2011 - 21:17

Good luck, but from the overall picture you present their campaign and strategy does not sound all that hot so hopefully it will fail at the first hurdle. How can they locate into a health centre? The mantra presented by the Lewisham Montessori Free School campaign was essentially the same as here ie do you want a three form entry primary, or do you want a new school and an over painting of the picture of calamity when in fact the local authority has always got most of its pupils into their first choice school.
I wish you the best of luck, but also hope that this won't progress far anyway saving your valuable time and energy!

Anton Daley's picture
Tue, 15/02/2011 - 17:37

I also wish you all the best but I think you will find that the local authority in question is clearly putting free schools way before schools like Addison that have served the community so well. The 'flagship' West London Free School will be opening a stones throw away from a brand new academy, whilst other secondary schools do their best to compete whilst serving the whole community (and not just the few who fit the profile of the free school). Best of luck!

Tracy Hannigan's picture
Wed, 16/02/2011 - 22:46

We are fighting and won't quit. And if they get through, we'll continue to try to negotiate the best situation for our locals and children.

Anton Daley's picture
Thu, 17/02/2011 - 23:00

It seems that hardly a day goes by without another 'Hammersmith and Fulham supports the development of yet another free school' article. This time, another secondary school to go with the WLFS and the 2 primary free schools already going through. What about the community schools??? The two tier system is well and truly moving forward at pace in that particular borough.

Melissa Benn's picture
Sat, 19/02/2011 - 10:45

Tracy, I don't think you have much to worry about if this promotional video by the founders of Rivendale, courtesy of the Department of Education, is anything to go by....

Fiona Millar's picture
Sat, 19/02/2011 - 12:31

There is also something odd about this school's admissions too. Firstly the admissions criteria don't seem to be set out clearly on the website. If you click on the admissions policy link you don't get directed to a policy, but to an 'enrolment form' which asks for information about applicant's ethnic background and medical 'ailments'. Requesting information about medical conditions is explicitly forbidden under the Admissions Code. This is the sort of information that is usually asked after pupils have been accepted to the school and are being enrolled, but in this case it appears to be an application form as it has to be submitted before the admissions are decided.

Fiona Millar's picture
Sat, 19/02/2011 - 15:18

It is also quite wrong in my view that they close their admissions process after other local schools have made offers and presumably had them accepted ( this usually has to be done within a couple of weeks). This could easily de-stabilise Rivendale's neighbours who may find parents withdrawing pupils at a very late stage, although having had a good look at the website and at some of the other local schools, it doesn't seem to be offering anything very special or different, so many parents may just be happy to stick with their original choices, in which case a lot of public money will be going into a project that may not be viable.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 19/02/2011 - 11:05

Two nodding heads, clunking editing and cutting off one of the comments before it's finished - couldn't the DfE have produced a better video than this?

Tracy Hannigan's picture
Sat, 19/02/2011 - 13:03

The local area is 'all over this ' from several view points and I think they are feeling the pressure. The DFE is attending the next (second) consultation meeting. Do they usually do that?

Anton Daley's picture
Sat, 19/02/2011 - 16:02

Having just watched the DFE video, it would be laughable if it wasn't for the fact that this kind of lunacy is being funded and promoted as the way forward. Having attended all the events arranged by the West London Free School in the same borough I came away each time with the impression that these people are simply 'playing' at schools. The other secondary free school now being backed by this borough is using 2006 data to try to convince parents that their 'school' is needed and, like the WLFS, do not answer any points or challenges that are raised with any depth or any honesty. Shameful!

Tracy Hannigan's picture
Sun, 20/02/2011 - 17:49

I met with the head of Rivendale yesterday and he was unable to answer the most basic questions about sustainability at the school - like how much a free school gets per pupil etc. I agree Fiona, the local schools are extremely concerned. There are several counts possible to push on this one - the dates, the form, etc. Interestingly, I have spoken to two people who know parents who submitted 'interest' statements when they got going and started recruiting parents, these particular parents were not contacted. One lives in the immediate vicinity of the office. The reasons seem to indicate a very particular type of cherrypicking.

From what I have seen today (I put some of the data on my website) there is little to support the blanket statement that this area is experiencing a population expansion, a growth in primary numbers, a need for places, or an increase in net migration.

Tracy Hannigan's picture
Sun, 20/02/2011 - 18:03

If anyone wants to come to the Consultation meeting on Monday 21st of February, you are more than welcome! It is 6-830 pm at the Masbro Centre 87 Masbro Road London W14 0LR.

Tracy Hannigan's picture
Tue, 22/02/2011 - 13:05

I think the difficulty is that despite the Rivendale trustees withdrawing their proposal for this site, they will not committ to leaving it entirely. The claim publicly is that it is due to building unavailability, however it was never possible to open the school for September. No credence is given to the community outrage over how this was handled.

The consultation has been announced to be closed, but Rivendale is hosting open days and is now tweeting that it is taking enrolments. I really do not understand how it is possible to a) not have a site b) not have an active proposal and c) have closed consultation and d) be taking enrollments for primary places.

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