Sunday 26 January 2014

Gladstone Free School accused of land grab

As the infamous case of outstanding Sulivan Primary School's closure to make way for Fulham Boys' Free School  is hitting the headlines, see BBC London News later tonight, Gladstone Free School is accused of a land grab in Brent in this guest blog:

Residents,allotment holders, representatives of Torah Temimah Primary School close to the proposed site of Gladstone Free School (currently allotment,a green open space and a hired rugby pitch (Kilburn Cosmos RFC) alongside the north of the  railway line as it passes through Gladstone Park (at the bottom of Parkside (off Dollis Hill Lane) NW2) will be attending the consultation by the proposed Gladstone Free School on Monday 27 January 2014 at 6pm at the Crown Moran Hotel in Cricklewood.

The land is Metropolitan Open land and Brent Council has already turned down an initial application - however recent enquiries to the Gladstone Free School (LINK )  have discovered that this open land is now the favoured site of the Department for Education and the governors of the Free School.

The Gladstone Free School is scheduled to open in September 2014 and apparently a temporary building is planned on the open land.

The backers of the school claim that there is a need for a new local secondary school - in fact there are many vacancies for September 2014 at Whitefield School NW2 and the newly refurbished Crest Academy ..both schools are within two miles of the proposed free school.

Governors argue that the site is where the former William Gladstone School stood ( until foolishly closed by Brent Council 20 years ago).This is false - the former site of the school is now a housing estate including Campbell Gordon Way.

From the school website. Proposed school is in blue but the open space has been coloured grey rather than green
We are opposed to the loss of our open space because :

- this  is a valued recreational space used by local residents for sports,relaxation,dog walking and gardening

- there is  heavy traffic use in the area caused by the primary school parents and staff 

- a new  road system for the 800 pupil school would destroy the tranquillity of Gladstone Park - used by thousands weekly 

Please come along and make your feelings known.

Free schools were introduced  by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition government in 2010 - they are state funded independent schools which do not co-operate with:
      the local Council or other secondary schools.The government hands over taxpayer money to build or convert new free schools and pay their costs.Research shows that Free Schools 
      discriminate against pupils from poor families and have lower levels of pupils on free school meals than their local catchment area.

Further note from Martin (Wembley Matters)

Gladstone Free School website has added a red running footnote at the bottom of the advertisement stating that the meeting is only to discuss the broad principles of the school. 

However the Agenda for the meeting on the panel next to this announcement includes the proposed location:
The plan for the event is:
  • Welcome
  • Background to the school
  • Vision and curriculum
  • School day, uniform, and induction
  • Proposed location and equality assessment 
  • Funding agreement
  • Summary and Consultation questions
  • Breakout groups:
    • curriculum;
    • premises;
    • completing admissions forms;
    • completing consultation form


Anonymous said...

Good luck in your resistance to this. Momentum seems to be growing with similar issues arising all over the capital and the country and local and national elections on the horizon. What better moment?

Anonymous said...

It's all well and good mentioning available places at the two schools above, but what noone who is anti Gladstone School has mentioned, is that the standard of education at these schools, is not particularly good. A lot of state schools run by Brent are poorly run, which is why so many have been turned into Academies.
So it's not just a question of available places, it's about available places in schools that can offer future generations a good quality education.

Martin Francis said...

It is not true to say that 'many' Brent secondary schools have become academies because they are poorly run (except for the forced academy at Copland). They became academies as Good or Outstanding schools and mainly for the additional money following loss of some 6th form funding. They have the same school management as before academisation.

You mention the Crest schools as having poor standards but these are already academies. They converted to academies in order to get a new building when other sources were not available. Now they have a spanking expensive new building but are not being chosen by parents. Despite failing they cannot (by law) be taken back into the local authority and can only be taken over by another academy chain.

I think this illustrates the dangers of the current fragmentation of school provision and the diminished role of the local authority (they have no power to intervene at Crest) as well as the decline in the Council's school improvement service due to funding cuts.