Sulivan School, Hammersmith and Fulham, has featured on LSN before (see here
and sidebar) when it was threatened with the axe despite being popular and a recipient of the Mayor of London’s Gold Club Award.
But there were cheers of joy
after the school was saved from closure when the Labour council overturned a decision by the previous council to close Sulivan to make way for a new secondary free school, Fulham Boys School*.
In January 2015, the school received a letter from Education Secretary Nicky Morgan stating that it was ‘amongst the 100 top performing schools in the United Kingdom’. It’s just been inspected
and kept its Good status.
Inspectors noted the harm which had been done when the school was under threat of amalgamation with another school
. They wrote:
‘In July 2013, there were plans by the local authority to close the school because of ‘surplus primary school places’ in the area. However, the decision to close the school was reversed in June 2014. There were a number of families who chose to leave the school due to the uncertainty of closure. This explains the varied numbers of pupils in the mixed-aged classes. The school also experienced staff turnover over this period.’
There were no ‘surplus school places’ – this was an excuse used by the then Tory council to justify shutting the school. And now we can see how the council’s decision harmed a good school in its area:
1Parent withdrew children from the school.
2The uncertainty resulted in staff leaving.
The responsibility for this uncertainty is with those on the previous Council who voted to close a good school in order to find a site for a free secondary school. Hammersmith and Fulham, it should be remembered, was once described by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, as his favourite local authority. Perhaps that was because the Council supported the Government’s free school policy even when it damaged an existing school.
OTHER FREE SCHOOL NEWS
Schools Improvement Net reports how Holyport College, a secondary free school with boarding facilities and links with Eton which opened last September has become mixed up in a racial bullying row
. It’s not the first time an Eton-backed free school has caused controversy. The London Academy of Excellence has been accused of dropping Year 12 pupils who weren’t ‘Russell Group ready
St Mary’s Primary School, a former independent school in Dilwyn, was inspected on 11/12th of February. The inspection report has not yet been published. It is now nearly three months overdue.
reports that the fate of St Michael’s Catholic Secondary School
, a former independent school in Cornwall which was allowed to join the state sector as a free school despite surplus places in the area, hangs in the balance. It was judged Requires Improvement a year ago and its head quit
following an investigation into the school’s management.
6 May, 09.20 In February Stockport Technical School, a 14-19 free school, announced it would close in July 2016 because it hadn't attracted enough students. However, it will close in July 2015
leaving students halfway through exams. The school opened in September 2013 and was hailed as 'ground breaking'. The Education Funding Agency purchased the former Hillcrest Grammar site for Stockport Technical School to move into in September 2015. This raises the question about how much taxpayers' money has been spent on this free school including purchase of the Grammar site. It also calls into question the wisdom of expecting children to decide whether to pursue a vocational education at 14. This is something both Conservatives and Labour support but parents are voting with their children's feet
. Such schools do not appear to be popular - two University Technology colleges have announced closure
and many are struggling to recruit pupils especially at age 14. The policy should be scrapped before more such schools, set up at taxpayers' expense, close after a few years.
The Fulham Boys School opened in September 2014 in temporary accommodation. London’s Mayor is committed to find it a site
UPDATE TO NOTES
6 May, 09.36 Readers who clicked on the Ofsted link to the Sulivan School report will have noticed the published report has 'Draft Publication. Not for disclosure or publication' stamped over it. As it is now publicly available on Ofsted's website, I presume this has now been cleared for publication.