Wednesday 1 May 2013

Michaela Free School bid foundering?

Last week Brent officials met with proponents of the Michaela Free School about their bid to open a four form entry secondary school at Arena House, the old College of North West London building opposite Wembley Park station.

Although Katharine Birbalsingh, infamous for her intervention at the Tory Party Conference, and her disciples were keen to assure Brent Council that they could comply with all the criteria for free school partnerships set out by the council (see below) there were doubts that they were compatible with the school's aims as set out on its website.

Additionally there are doubts about how many local parents have actually signed up to say that they are interested in sending the children to Michaela, especially as only eight people in total turned up to their consultation - very few, if any, of whom were parents of prospective students.

Well informed sources also say that the building itself is in poor condition and has an asbestos problem.

The Council's criteria for partnership are:

Academies and free school providers working with the Council will be expected to demonstrate:

1. An absolute commitment to the ethos and values of inclusive education for all Brent’s children and recognition of the positive role schools should play in the wider community.
2. A commitment to a close working relationship with the local authority in order to maintain an appropriate focus on borough-wide priorities, including local authority nomination of a member of the governing body and a commitment to sharing performance information.
3. The ability to deliver school improvement in an urban context.
4. That the establishment of the proposed education provision would be supported by demonstrable parental demand and with a genuine commitment to providing school places for local children.
5. Appropriate staffing arrangements to ensure high quality teaching and learning from qualified staff and good employment practices, including in relation to support and contracted staff.
6. A commitment to meeting the needs of Brent’s diverse community.
7. A commitment to ensuring the future employability of young people (in particular in secondary and 16 to 19) through links with business, industry and higher education.
8. A commitment to community access and use of facilities through agreed extended opening and lettings policy.
9. A commitment to good pupil nutrition and healthy eating.
10. A commitment to inclusive practice and fair access to the school for all pupils as governed by the Admission Code of Practice and the Authority’s Fair Access Protocols.

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