Locals didn't know about new free school

Janet Downs's picture
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.
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Stuart Coe's picture
Tue, 08/02/2011 - 18:11

Good evening, Yes I can only agree, I Live in a Village of 1200 people (Woolmer Green, Herts) and the We Need A School Group 'Free school' have decided that they want a brand new secondary school built, in our rural village, for 900+ Pupils plus 'so called teachers' on Green Belt Land. There are a group of us who found out about this just before December 2010 and have been trying to fight them ever since but as you say 'They do not answer'. We have a meeting with our local parish council tomorrow and they were officially invited to give their presentation but they have declined to attend. They have all ready received the initial approval from the DfE. You are more than welcome to attend our meeting to see what you think or indeed, to help us in anyway possible. You could also sign our on line petition if you wish.
How can a village of 1200 people cope with 900+ children and staff, it will ruin our village and we will most probably lose our identity due to the building on green belt land.
We don't want a school in Woolmer Green group will fight this to the bitter end.
Wish us luck.

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