100 schoolboys left in the lurch after Labour scupper free school site

TFBSlogoNearly 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.

4 thoughts on “100 schoolboys left in the lurch after Labour scupper free school site

  1. It really does seem like a spiteful response to the previous administrations school programme and does not appear to be well thought out. Harry – do you know what the admission figures are for Sulivan this Sept now it has been saved? They must be low,as pupils would have moved to other schools or selected new schools? Long term this is not good for Sulivan. And having just been through the stressful admissions process myself for my son I do feel very sorry for the worry it is going to cause the children and parents that had chosen FBS.

  2. Wendy Aldridge, Sulivan’s award-winning head teacher, would have lost her job if Sulivan had been closed, along with some of Sulivan’s teachers/teaching assistants. Sulivan’s pupils would have transferred to a different school – one which is nowhere near as good as Sulivan.

    You mention “Sulivan parents who had been told their school would have closed” – well, yes, that’s because the school would have been closed. That’s why your administration issued the school with a discontinuation notice – to discontinue it and move the children elsewhere http://www.lbhf.gov.uk/Images/final%20draft%20stat%20notice%20NK%20and%20S%20revocation%2030%20June%202014_tcm21-189470.pdf.

    By your logic, so long as those boys who signed up for FBS are found new places (which they will be), then their school hasn’t been discontinued, or delayed from opening, right?

    When it comes to schools, and hospitals for that matter, the public understand the word ‘closure’ very differently to Hammersmith and Fulham Tories. Did you not learn that lesson in May?

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