Westminster Adult Education Service left homeless after their premises are handed over to New Primary School

Allan Beavis's picture
Sadly, more evidence here that the Tories disregard the needs of the majority to pander to the vanity of the few. Adult education is next to be targeted.

The Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES), the largest local authority provider of adult education in London and one of the largest nationally, providing Adult Education services for 12,000 people, will be left homeless as Westminster Council, having failed to build a new home for WAES, has now handed over it’s main premises in Amberley Road, Paddington to a new ARK-run primary school.

According to ARK, this small primary school is being set up as a Free School, with temporary premises in Queen Park and will re-locate to Amberley Road in 2013. However, the Council report states that it is important for WAES to be re-housed in time for September 2011.

It seems that Westminster City council failed to find a new home for WAES after Council delays and Tory in-fighting led to the collapse of plans to build a new home in 2008. To add insult to injury, WAES have also been told that Westminster Council will charge them a market rent for Council buildings occupied, which would mean that WAES would be unable to maintain its current operation.

The WAES is one of the most diverse and dynamic communities in Britain. Their board of governors includes student representatives, elected members of the city council and members from the community and local organisations. They have strong roots in the community, running courses where they are needed through partnerships with the local authority and other community and education bodies.

This government’s educational policy is not just chaotic and shambolic. It is deliberately divisive and discriminatory and will ignore the educational needs of a vast number of children and adults. And at what cost to society?
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Francis Gilbert's picture
Tue, 05/04/2011 - 16:52

It sounds like utter chaos! 12,000 students without anywhere to learn! This is crazy.

Allan Beavis's picture
Tue, 05/04/2011 - 16:56

I'm so sorry - I forgot to put the source of this news on my original post. Here it is:-


Francis, you need to learn to apply a critical mind to what you are told and not gullibly buy everything that you would like to believe to be true. WAES provides services at all the following centres. To believe that 12,000 students learn in one old Victorian school is fanciful.

•32 Page Street
•Abbey Community Centre
•Ada Court
•African Women Group
•Amberley Road Centre
•Bayswater Families Centre
•Beethoven Centre
•Cabinet War Rooms
•Chinese Community Centre
•Christ Church Bentinck
•Church Army Centre
•Church Army Womens Day Centre
•Church Street Library
•Church Street Neighbourhood Centre
•Churchill Gardens Tenants Hall
•Connections at St Martins
•Covent Garden Club
•Dorothy Gardener Centre
•Ebury Bridge Centre
•Edward Wilson School
•Essendine Primary School
•First Step
•Fourth Feathers Club Assoc
•Gateway Primary School
•George Elliot School
•German Ymca
•Hallfield School
•Healthy Living Centre South Westminster
•Jubilee Sports Centre
•Kongolese Centre of Information and Advice
•Leonora Club
•Lisson Grove House Centre
•Look Ahead Housing and Care
•Maida Vale Library
•Mary Paterson Day Nursery
•Marylebone Library
•Mayfair Library
•Migrants Resource Centre
•Millbank Primary School
•Moberley Centre
•New Avenue Youth Project
•Open Age Project
•Our Lady of Dolours Primary School
•Paddington Arts
•Paddington First
•Paddington Green Primary School
•Paddington Library
•Pickering House Comm Hall
•Pimlico Centre
•Pimlico Library
•Portman Early Childhood Centre
•Portugal Prints
•Pullen Day Centre
•Queens Park Library
•Queen's Park Library
•Queen's Park Primary School
•Salvation Army
•Soho Family Centre
•Soho Parish Primary School
•Somerset House
•South Westminster Day Services
•St Augustine School
•St Gabriel's Primary School
•St John's Wood Library
•St Margaret's Drop In Centre
•St Mary Magdalene School
•St Mary Of The Angels Rc
•St Michael Grey Coat
•St Stephen's Church
•St Stephen's Primary School
•Sudan Peoples Support Association
•Sudanese Community Information Centre
•Tfl Street Management Services
•The Avenues
•The Stowe Centre
•Venture House
•West End Day Services
•Westbourne Park Families Centre
•Westminster Reference Library
•Westminster Refugees Consortium
•Wilberforce School
•Workshop and Company

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 06/04/2011 - 09:28

The figure of 12,000 students was given in the Update on the work of Westminster Adult Education Service published by City of Westminster on 5 April 2011. The report said that the Amberley Centre provided “the bulk of provision and most of the specialist classes.” Of course, we don’t know how large this “bulk” is, but as “bulk” means “mass or greater part”* then we can assume that a large proportion of the 12,000 students use this centre. The report described the Amberley Centre as having “36 classrooms/studios, a crèche, learning centre, gym and is the main administrative base for the Service. So it’s rather larger than one old Victorian school.

The report acknowledged that the City Council had approved the Ark scheme to use the Amberley Centre for its new primary school but the Council had found no alternative accommodation for WAES. It also said:

“It is widely accepted that the Amberley and Ebury Centres are not fit-for-purpose, are expensive to maintain and, in the case of Amberley, is not DDA compliant”

If Amberley is not fit for education purposes, and is not DDA compliant, then it is worrying that permission has been given for it to be changed into a primary school. This is also an example of a proposed free school taking on a building which is expensive to maintain (like Langley Hall Primary Academy in Slough).


*Little Oxford Dictionary

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 06/04/2011 - 11:16


The laundry list you provide distracts from the points being made. It is obvious that a new free school is being given priority over WAES, who will lose their main building.

In fact, 3,500 use the Amberley Centre. It is not only one of their main centres for learning but the WAES administrative headquarters. The Community Centres you have cut and pasted above do not have the resources to accommodate the 3,500 + students and staff displaced from Amberley Road.

The reason that the WAES situation is so desperate is that they will have to vacate Amberley Road by June yet Westminster Council appear to have been both incompetent and indifferent to a service which provides educational services to adults from within and beyond Westminster, with a very ethnically diverse student base ranging from ages 18 to over 90, 70% women.

I have been told that they have to vacate by June because this is the deadline for a deal to be signed between Westminster Council, private developers and the DfE. The site of Amberley Road is to be sold by the council to developers who will pull down the existing building and use part of the site for private housing. Public funding, from the DfE, will go towards the costs of the construction of a new primary free school.

However, there is some scepticism about whether this deal will be agreed by June. Fine for the free school – they will be accommodated in their temporary site in Queen’s Park but the WAES still have to vacate with the Council having done very little to help re-accommodate them.

So, Westminster Council and the DfE will use up tax payers money to evict the WAES, jeopardise the education of up to 12,000 people by selling off the Amberley Centre for profit and prioritise the construction of a purpose built free primary school whose first two years of operation will be on a temporary site. Shambolic, chaotic, unfair and discriminatory.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 15/04/2011 - 10:24

The TES today reports that the situation with WAES is getting no better and that Westminster Council is even considering ending its involvement with the service together and spinning it off as an independent company. In the meantime, they will be temporarily rehoused for two years (possibly in Brent) and then perhaps put back in their original site next to the ARK primary school.

The council's mishandling of the WAES' future seems to have opened up a very convenient opportunity for ARK to extend its influence in an area where the local authority now only has one school under it's supervision. The council say that they have a legal obligation to provide primary school places but I wonder how necessary it was to uproot and jeopardise WAES to make way for ARK? Was there no other alternative? No other buildings to convert into a primary? Enlarging existing schools? Was giving over the site to ARK the last resort or the first option? As more and more schools and educational facilities become independent from LAs, are we going to see increased competition and resentment between them for results, premises, money, attention? How does children's - and adult - education improve in this dog eat dog arena?

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