Croydon free school in portakabins since 2014 downgraded from RI to inadequate

Janet Downs's picture

Paxton Sports and Science Academy, a primary free school in Thornton Heath, Croydon, has been downgraded from requires improvement to inadequate.

The school has been in portakabins on land rented from a local rugby club since it opened in September 2014.  It also uses classrooms at a nearby primary school.

Paxton was issued with a Financial Notice to Improve in June 2019.  This was lifted a month later when it transferred to Wandle Learning Trust which had been supporting the school.  The Department for Education made it a condition that Paxton must be rebrokered if it was to move into its permanent home in Thornton Heath.

Companies House documents show a ‘charge’ against the former academy trust, Paxton Academy Ltd, for the permanent site.   The charge is in favour of the Secretary of State for Education and dated 15 September 2014.  This suggests the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) purchased the land in 2014 although planning permission was not granted.

Paxton faced problems about planning permission relating to its permanent home.    The school appealed to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government who agreed  planning permission should be given.    Building began and it’s expected the new buildings will be completed by the spring. 

This story mirrors that of the International Academy of Greenwich which announced is closure following difficulties with planning permission for its permanent site.    It raises again the question of why the ESFA allowed a school to go ahead before it had been given permission to build on a permanent site.  In both these cases, children have had to put up with being in temporary accommodation.  At IAG, the temporary buildings became overcrowded.  At Paxton, the school is having to operate on a split site.

Paxton specializes in sports and science yet the permanent buildings have only a rooftop play deck and a second floor multi-use games area.  It will still have to use off-site provision for ‘sports days, athletics and swimming’, the SoS for Housing admitted. 

More details on this story here.

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