Rivendale in Brent - or is that Hackney?

Tracy Hannigan's picture
We learned on Saturday that Rivendale had popped its had up in Brent - but I have just been made aware of a potential proposal by Rivendale for siting a school in Hackney. This was covered today in the Hackney Citizen.

According to the article, 'Rivendale “only wants to go where there’s demand,” says Woods, “so the advantage we offer is that there weren’t enough places before and now there’s enough places. Simple as that – we’re going to places where there’s no other option and giving parents an option. It’s a load easier to do somewhere there’s a need.”

This implies that even Rivendale agrees that there is no need here in the north of Hammersmith and Fulham. This is both where they were opposed and also where a fellow free primary had to open at half mast due to low first preference application numbers.

What is especially disturbing is that the article seems to claim that Rivendale is seeking a location to open in 2012. Rivendale has an approved proposal under the original provisions (for what they are worth) and an approved business case based upon marketing and location sourcing done in Hammersmith and Fulham. If they are looking to open in Hackney in 2012, this implies they do not need to do an assessment of demand or need under the new rules for this new location, despite being quite far away from where they originally sourced the data underpinning their application. How then can James Woods say that they only want to go where there is 'demand' - demand by whom?

How is it that the 'localism' notions (need/demand/etc) are met in Hackney as a consequence of the feeble demand, heavy opposition and lack of need in Hammersmith and Fulham?

What does this say about the real purpose and intent of the free schools process in the first place? It may only serve to affirm what many suspected here in the first place - that the agenda is not local at all.
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Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 14/06/2011 - 15:52

It seems Rivendale is touting for business. They're asking parents who want a school in their area to contact them. At the same time they're asking for "expressions of interest". How can parents express an interest if they don't know where the school is going to be?

And, as we've said before, how can any organisation draw up a business plan if it doesn't know where it is going to undertake its business? As every GCSE/BTec business studies pupil will know - you need to have researched demand, competition and availability of suitable premises in your chosen area before you do your business plan. If you don't, the bank manager would show you the door. It seems the DfE hasn't even got a rudimentary grasp of business practice.


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