Nearly 100 schoolboys who were hoping to start up at Fulham Boys School, a new secondary Church of England Free School, have now been left to scramble for places in other schools. The future of the new school has been left in doubt after the Labour-run council scuppered arrangements for a permanent site. The uncertainty over the school’s long term term future has caused the Department of Education to postpone the opening.
Chairman of FBS Governors, Alex Wade, said:
“The new H&F Council has pledged to stand up for all types of schools, including free schools. Apparently the DfE has yet to be convinced this means support for FBS.
“Parents are committed to FBS and its boy-focussed academic curriculum. Boys have been fitted for their uniform and have got to know each other at our transition days. Our head, Alun Ebenezer, has recruited an outstanding team of teachers and support staff.”
Originally the permanent site was to have been the one currently occupied by Sulivan Primary School. The proposal had been for that school to merge with New Kings Primary School and become an academy sponsored by the Thomas’s Day School Trust. But there was opposition to this from Sulivan parents who had been told their school would have closed – and given the false impression that classmates and their teachers would have been split up. In fact the teachers and classes would have been kept together in the new school.
Anyway Labour have pulled these plans claiming that they will provide more social housing and thus there will be a greater need for primary school places. What about the greater need for secondary school places? The original proposals would have meant more school places in total. In any event Labour’s supposed plans for more housing merely consist of a target plucked out of the air – no tangible sites or funding.
The council admit that ditching the plans will mean £300,000 will be wasted:
“3BM, the employee-led mutual established by the Council that manages the Schools Capital Programme have been managing both aspects of the original decision in terms of implementing the temporary installation of classrooms on the Sulivan site and progressing the design and planning application for the works at New King’s. In total, costs have been incurred of approximately £200k. A further cost associated with the abortive contract for the hire of temporary classrooms is likely and an estimate of a further £100k is considered prudent.”
Labour gave a breezy assurance that they would find an alternative site for the Fulham Boys School. In fact they have actively sabotaged this. The school was due to be at a temporary site in Gibbs Green for two years from this September. Had the lease been extended from two years to three years then the Department for Education would have allowed it to proceed as they would have had greater confidence in finding a permanent site in that timescale. However the council have, thus far, prevented the developers Capco from extending the lease.
If the council was putting the interest of children first they would have the flexibility to allow the lease to be extended. Instead, as their former leader Lord Kinnock once put it, the council is “playing politics with people’s lives.”
Any parents who believed Labour could be trusted to support free schools have been quickly betrayed.