In Wandsworth we have an example of just how far the public statements are contradicted by the practice.
One of the arguments against the Bolingbroke 'free' school, dubbed the bankers' school, was that there are already surplus places in secondary schools in the borough with a further net 1000 places given to out of borough students. That argument is being made even stronger now, given the approval of the Bolingbroke, with the news that Katharine Birbalsingh is now looking to set up in Tooting and is being welcomed by Wandsworth Council, even though there has been no demand for the school.
Lambeth Council sold the building Ms Birbalsingh wanted and, when Gove ordered a review of underused Government owned buildings, she expressed an interest in Balham Youth Court. However, it now appears that she is after a building in Tooting, almost next door to Graveney School, recently converted to an academy and an excellent school.
The picture now is unclear. On Woman's Hour today, Ms Birbalsingh claimed that she would be opening her school in Tooting in September 2012. Whereas, Wandsworth Council claim that it is not even certain that there is a suitable building.
This situation would be farcical if it weren't for the appalling waste of money being spent on these vanity projects. If this one goes through it will also blow apart any claim that 'free' schools are set up in response to local demand.
The Council statement
can be found here