Locals didn’t know about plans to open a free school in Queen’s Park, Westminster, near their homes. A report in The Guardian
says local parents seemed to have missed the “great response” claimed by the director of primary education at Ark who will run the new school. Ark claims they distributed leaflets and held meetings but their communications director admitted that the consultation, featuring three meetings in a neighbouring ward, had been flawed.
There is a need for a new school in Westminster but not in Queen’s Park where there are vacancies. And it appears that the local Council colluded with Ark to provide the new free school. This has led to concerns that the Council has not been honest with people in the borough. Labour MP Karen Buck has expressed concern about the active role played by the Council, "…the free school label is a slightly deceitful one, it can't help but make people think, 'you're not being entirely honest with us'. It enrages me that they won't just stand by the school on its merits. Why do you have to have all this rhetoric?"
It appears, then, that the proposals were not fully publicised and there was collusion with the local Council. It also appears that the new school is not needed in this particular area. It’s not good enough to admit after the event that publicity was not perfect. It’s too late once plans to open the school are agreed. This incident shows how consultation about ‘free’ schools is a sham.