Friday, 25 April 2014

What's the WHIF over West Hampstead?

As free schools become an issue in Brent, Anne Clarke writes a Guest Blog on the West Hampstead International School on our borders

Campaigners for the West Hampstead International Free School (WHIFS), an all-through (ages 4-19) free school hoping to open in 2015 or 2016, say that West Hampstead is a black hole when it comes to secondary school provision and the available local schools are not good enough. According to Dr. Clare Craig, the group's lead petitioner:
There are no good schools just over the borough borders and children end up travelling a long way to attend Barnet grammar schools or church schools elsewhere. 
In fact, NW6 is home to St. Augustine's Cof E School which OFSTED deems to be "outstanding" and Queen's Park Community School which is a solidly "good" school. The local comprehensive, Hampstead School, in Camden and just outside the NW6 postcode is "good with some outstanding features" according to OFSTED and is now in the top 2% of the country for A-level results.

Dr. Craig repeatedly claims that there simply are not enough secondary places for an incoming population boom. She has all sorts of graphs and charts with data modelled herself based on GP birth records in Camden, Brent and the NW6 post code. Predicting student numbers is very difficult and the GLA and Camden spend a lot of time and money hiring people to do this work on their behalf.

Camden insist there will be sufficient secondary places until 2022/2023, their numbers can be found HERE

Schools are funded on a per head basis so undersubscribed schools suffer from funding shortfalls. To build schools 8 years before they are needed would be catastrophic for all local schools, including new ones.
The addition of the primary offer from WHIFS came after Camden identified Liddell Road as the site where they plan to expand Kingsgate School. Camden does face a current shortfall of primary places and they need to add more places urgently. Regulation from the current government means Camden cannot simply open a new community school but are restricted to free schools or academies. However, they can expand an "outstanding" school such as Kingsgate. Camden's plans to expand Kingsgate School on Liddell Road will provide an additional 420 primary places.

Camden's own plan is not without controversy as in order to pay for the new school, they will need to raise the money themselves as central government will not fund a community school expansion. They plan to build flats and the additional Kingsgate School building on Liddell Road which is currently an industrial estate. This will mean the loss of 250 jobs according to the Save Liddell Road campaign. 

If the free school builds on Liddell Road, they will also lose the same businesses and jobs because of the larger school buildings they would require. The total area of the Liddell Road site is just over 3 acres, by contrast, Hampstead School sits on just over 4. To put this in local perspective, WHIFS would like to squeeze the student population of Emmanuel and Hampstead schools onto a site only 3 times that of Beckford School. The facilities needed for both a primary and secondary are extensive. WHIFS has said they expect theirs will be a tall building in order to accommodate their needs.

It is hard to imagine that the WHIFS campaign is just about numbers as it would be Camden's legal obligation to address any shortfall of places. Dr. Craig is quoted in the Ham and High on 5/9/13 that Hampstead School is simply too big. "One of the problems people have with Hampstead School is that it is a massive school. It has 210 children in each year group.That is not much bigger than your average Camden school but a lot of people want a smaller, community school for their children. Part of going to school is being part of a community, but if your community is 1,500 people, it’s hard to feel like you belong.”

It is interesting that the school Dr. Craig now proposes is a two form primary (60 per year)  with a 6 form secondary (180 per year) plus a sixth form. WHIFS would be the largest school in Camden and her secondary would only be one form short of Hampstead School. Dr. Craig has her numbers wrong again, the actual number of pupils in Hampstead School is 1,280, WHIFS would total 1,570.

As Brent residents have seen, all 3 of the free secondary schools due to open in September 2014 are still advertising for applicants. Only one has a confirmed site which is not looking in good shape. In an unusual twist, the College of North West London building on Priory Park Road, Kilburn will host Marylebone Boys School for two years whilst they build their permanent site on their secret Marylebone location. 

Currently Camden has 170 unfilled Year 7 places and neighbouring Brent and Barnet have around 200 each. The addition of 3 new free schools in Brent and an academy in Barnet opening this September, on top of the free school added in Barnet in September 2013, add a total of over 700 additional secondary places per year group from September 2014.

The DfE final sign off on free schools is unpredictable. Many free schools have failed to open after being given initial funding to proceed, including the Institute of Education bid south of the Euston Road in Camden. Jeopardising the expansion of an outstanding primary school in order to make way for an all-through free school will deepen the primary place crisis.

Ultimately, the quality of education WHIFS would provide is unknown. What we do know is that Camden has an excellent record of running schools, with 95% rated as "good" or "outstanding" by OFSTED. The one school requiring improvement is nowhere near West Hampstead and Camden is working very hard to improve that school.

By contrast, one of WHIFS partner schools is an academy in Hertfordshire requiring improvement.


  1. Excellent evidence and analysis which points up the absolute absurdity of the situation (without needing to emphasise how Gove's policies encourage and indulge the kind of self-publicising ego-trip-on-their-shoulders chancers we have been afflicted with in Craig and Birbalsingh).

  2. With 1/3 Free Schools deemed to require improvement, much worse than the national average, which itself is significantly below the London average, anyone sending their children to a new Free School must realize it's a huge gamble. The chances that a Free School will deliver a better educational experience than the excellent LEA schools in Camden and Barnet is very slim. Any new organization takes time to spin up to speed and deliver its best work, and schools are no exception. Inexperienced staff and governing bodies do nothing to improve the situation. The first cohorts through these schools are almost certainly not going to achieve their potential. Shame, doubly so given the superb local alternatives.

  3. Clare Craig of the NW6school campaign for the West Hampstead International School has one strategy she applies to all her pet projects. Her ThanksDr project which is operating a huge financial loss was built on a strategy to undermine the valuable NHS Direct service.

    Her latest project, Lead Proposer of a free school, is built on undermining local schools, the LEA and the GLA by misconstruing data, misrepresenting the need for the school and pushing for a campaign for her own personal interest.

    Based on her Thanksdr company alone it is clear that she is unfit to run a school.

    1. Ah yes, ThanksDr, the online medical peep show. Fork over 25 quid and she'll show you all!

    2. Ok all of this is really silly its a school that's it a school they are not planning to build a nuclear station in west Hampstead its a school shouldn't we be embracing them. As a few of people on the board has said the problem isn't the people trying to get the school built but the government shouldn't we be putting them down not the people trying to build a new school

      I have seen these people outside schools campaigning trying to get people to sign up I have kids a part time job and do not understand how these people are doing this.

      From what you have said this lady is a Dr has children goes to work / or has her own business or both and wants to start a new school I bet its hard work to try and start a school, and she's a doctor I bet she could just send her kids to private school if she wants why is she bothering

      I have gone through this board and Anne and Mark and a few anonymous people are talking about what really matters which is we need more school places and the local council can not build it and I want my kids to go to a local school I would like a choice of schools which are not miles from my home

      I went to a crap school and I buy all the books to try and teach my children more than I know and I know Anne you said Hampstead is a great school thank you for that I will go and visit it but I do like the idea of a new school and the things there are trying to do - does that make me pushy (LOL)


  4. Guest • a month ago

    I've been approached on two separate occasions by parents behind this campaign, trying to get me to sign their petition. Both times I've been told that it doesn't matter if we have no intention of sending our son to the school "they just need signatures".

  5. What is urgently needed is collaborative design between all stakeholders with a central local ccommunity board to at least either approve or reject any Free school proposal or Academy conversion

    I if elected in Sudbury I would immediately champion a Local Community School Board in Brent. This would be an alternative model in proposing and approving new schools or Academy conversions with Secretary of State just rubber stamping such plans.

    Local communities would then have a voice in the type of school local people want and who should provide the school.

    The current situation where approved new free schools can't locate premises after being approved is absurd.

    We need proper planning of school locations so important infrastructure such as increasing walking and cycling to school is the norm.

    "Free Market Dynamics" does not work in planning new schools. We are ending up in situations where there is no building or land available and or the character of the school does not fit pupil profille.

    1. Tony, now that you have been confirmed as a candidate for the Brent local elections, may I suggest that you set up your own blog to support your campaign

    2. Well said Martin. Toby, please take your Big Society electioneering elsewhere. We're not interested.

    3. Interesting Toby is a candidate in Sudbury and lives in Alperton (?) - some way distant from the wilds of West Hampstead

    4. He doesn't even live in Brent

  6. It must be a good thing for the Whiffers that their idol Michael Gove is pushing for removing minimum play space requirements. It sounds as if they will have little to none.

  7. I know a great local international school. It's called Hampstead School and the students come from all over the world. Something like 66 languages spoken.

    Why call a school WHIFS? Worst name ever?

  8. It's also worth noting that all the partner schools that Dr Craig has on board as co-sponsors or as members of the team are selective or semi-selective, and most have a religious base. Similarly, the 'local' parents she claims as supporters are almost (to a (wo)man) parents of children at Emmanuel C of E Primary School in West Hampstead. I think you get a flavour of the kind of gown-wearing, Latin-learning-by-rote environment Dr Craig seeks for her putative school.

    Of course, Dr Craig's merry band of Charlottes and Tristans tried to derail the expansion of an outstanding NW6 primary school and snaffle the Liddell Road site for her school, cravenly and opportunistically suddenly adding a primary arm to the previous secondary school to buy local support. It didn't work, and she alienated more people than supported her - not least the primary schools whom she staked out to get the signatures necessary for approval - a lengthy task, and somewhat ironic given the 'demand' that WHIS claimed exists in the area for their peculiar brand of 1950s education.

    As it stands, they have no site, no approval and no school. WHIS have plagued a variety of organisations with Freedom of Information requests in a desparate attempt to prove need - need that neither the local authority, the GLA, nor indeed any other local school are reporting as needed. WHIS are disregarding static birth rates in the area, people moving out due to the benefit caps and HB reforms, and rising rents. Heaven forfend they are only looking for evidence that supports the establishment of the school.

    Slagging off existing providers comes as second nature - Hampstead School have felt the sharp edge of WHIS's tongue and bewildering variety of accusations that the school is 'dangerous' and 'filled with gangs' from WHIS supporters.

    The Save Liddell Road's laughable claims that they 'employ' 250 staff on the site is unproven, unevidenced and a gross exaggeration.Frankly, Camden and West Hampstead neither wants nor needs a motley collection of Arthur Daley style lock-ups and dodgy motor repair outfits. The new plans will bring a school, community facilities, an extension to the park, and - yes - replacement industrial units better suited to the local environment than those presently provided by existing tenants.

    In the end, it comes down to a marketisation of education with the sinkers or swimmers based on who can provide the "best" education - everyone wants to be a 'nice' semi-selective pseudo grammar school - no-one will want to provide education for lower achieving children, or indeed anyone with any special needs or afflictions - that will be left for local councils to provide (and then be slagged off for not getting as good results as schools like WHIS).

    Comical also that Toby Chambers says "We need proper planning of school locations so important infrastructure such as increasing walking and cycling to school is the norm" - er, that's what local councils used to do Toby, before people like you started up your own schools to deprive local councils of a role in providing and planning education.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. I'm intrigued as to why you have deleted a reply that Anne made (or perhaps Anne requested it ?) to the points I made above.

  9. Clare Craig is in an inevitable position.
    Anne is a knock out in every sense and is clearly intent on seeing off this rotten egg before it hatches.

  10. Think of the millions the taxpayer could save by simply paying the moving expenses of the Von Trapps of West Hampstead to Hertfordshire.

  11. The DfE will see that the Doctor has doctored her figures!

    The Doctor knows this and also knows the true ailment is the urgency of primary school places and not secondary. The Doctor also knows that to remedy the primary places crisis ASAP is to prescribe the expansion of Kinsgate "outstanding" school.

    Doctor Clare Craig knows this cure and she should take herself off for some truth pills ASAP.

  12. I am very concerned about this school proposing what they call “diamond structure” and especially as this proposed school will determine their own admissions arrangements. How can a group of parents from a CofE school in West Hampstead be allowed to not only tell us what school they will give our children but also dictate the admissions which will supposedly be based on catchment and also with a lottery admissions tagged on to give others outside the catchment a chance to apply.
    The truth here is that it is well known that Campaigner Clare Craig has a team of friends who mostly would live outside of Liddell school site so the “lottery admissions” for them would apply here!

    As for “diamond” schools – why is this school proposing an arrangement that will fuel segregation between sexes? Since the dawn of the 20th century, both educators and parents have seen this as historic and single-sex classes, in otherwise coeducational schools, are entirely misguided. Single-sex classes reinforce harmful stereotypes about boys and girls.

    The proposer of the West Hampstead Free School has no doubt cherry-picked research to justify her decisions on single-sex classes despite there being no well-designed research showing that single-sex education improves students’ academic performance. But there is an abundance of evidence that shows sex segregation increases gender sterotyping and allows for institutional sexism.
    Teaching to stereotypes rather than children is challenging for students and teachers alike and finding teachers to teach across this unusual proposal of “diamond structure” will pose it’s own difficulties.

    To suggest this structure will also pose difficulties in how to allocate pupils when separating them for these classes. The logistics of dividing the sexes in a coeducational school will not only exacerbate inequalities but it begs the question on how the school will apply it’s admissions of boy/girl to allow for the single-sex classes. Will they select based on gender? Hard to believe that would be the case in the 21st century but it is entirely possible as the proposers of the school are “free” to set their own admissions criteria. What parents need to be aware of is that there is NO appeals process in free schools, so if your child is refused a place then your only option is to appeal to the very body that has refused you in the first instance – and who will undoubtedly refuse you again.

    This school will have no local accountability and given what we know of Dr Clare Craig, the self-elected leader of the group, I would very much doubt she will listen to your concerns.

  13. I think this campaign stinks. They are dividing the community by setting us apart and they are unsettling parents who have been happy with sending their children to the outstanding schools in West Hampstead.

    To quote Clare Craig when she approached me and my friend "if you sign up then you won't get stuck with Beckford" when in fact that is the school me and my husband have chosen.

    I feel that this woman and the others I have seen with her leafleting are deliberately undermining the local schools, particularly those with high proportions of pupils with English as second language, and I am flabbergasted that she has been let loose on our streets to do so.

    I think these people are in fact not damaging the schools they are slagging off but they are in fact giving the Camden school they currently send their children to a bad name. It is a very good school but we decided that these people are not who we want to surround ourselves with - it is very upsetting that they are making people feel their choice of schools if not the Emmanuel school or the one they are proposing is a very poor choice. I think we are steeped with great schools in the area already.

    I think this campaign is a terrible advert for parents in NW6 - it is a wonderful community built on a diverse population who blend together, something I don't think will be the case with the free school if it actually every existed.

    One last thing, from speaking to friends they seem under the impression that the campaign is proposing a Camden school and people are actually signing the petition because Clare Craig has on her leaflets an "outstanding community school". It is a free school, community schools are state schools run by local authorities and staff are employed by the local authority. Why is she calling her school if she is so against them - yet she sends all her children to the local Camden Council Community school.

    I think this is a disgusting campaign and I am not alone but people have been afraid to speak up.

    1. Clare Craig has e-mailed me to deny that she has ever said anything negative about Beckford school.

    2. She has said negative things about Hampstead School in published media.

  14. I am an Emmanuel parent and I can assure you there are some wonderful people there, but yes there are some that are acting rather superior and high handed over this campaign. It has caused undercurrents and there are many of us who love the school and are extremely happy with how Camden run the school.

    I realised that things were not right when we were all asked to bring as many children to be filmed for a video - it was then I realised that using our children in association with the word "pushy" said it all. These people are very pushy parents but to label little children so is a crass action.

    I cringe every time I walk past shop windows with pictures of gorgeous children and "I am not pushy" captioned by them. Children should not be exposed to what "pushy" makes you and I think the supporters at the school who are simply obsessed really ought to take a step back and think about what they are doing in terms of damage to other schools.

    They are simply insulting parents and the superiority of their actions and statements will damage our community - a good school is a good school, we are all equal and I feel that is completely lost in their messages.

    But don't be put off by Emmanuel - it is a fabulous school and one of many in the area!

    1. I am also an Emmanuel parent and I agree that it is a wonderful school. I love the new headteacher and the staff are very good.
      Some of the free school parents have taken it too far. They seek out every opportunity for signatures and sabotage any rational discussion about secondary schools with opportunistic promotion of their dream school.
      I've taken to avoiding Clare Craig entirely. Her children are always late for school so I now arrive early.
      I can't imagine what staff would work in this school should it open. The pressure would be unbearable.

    2. I should also add comments like "our type don't send children to Hampstead" does not help their cause. Their constant belittling of Hampstead, South Hampstead, UCS and all other schools that are not "my school" as Clare calls it serve only as a reminder that this will be no school for the community. It will be for the snobbiest, pushiest parents in West Hampstead. It is appalling that someone who, until recently, was completely uninvolved with schools is now a fountain of knowledge on all education matters.
      I would love for their to be an open conversation or public meeting about WHIS. So many people I know have deep concerns.

    3. Camden needs urgent primary places, not secondary.

  15. I have been asked to sign, thought it was a bit dodgy as they don't want your address - so basically there is no way to substantiate the signatures they claim to have? How can these masses of signatures be considered as support without evidence of knowing these people who sign really are genuine.

    All a bit suspect especially as they don't actually tell you it's a free school or publish that on the leaflets they pressure you to sign. Is that legal?

  16. I want a school with qualified teachers...does that make me pushy?

    I want a school led by someone with experience in education...does that make me pushy?

    I want a school that has been honest with parents about the need for more school places....does that make me pushy?

    I want a school that cares about the whole community, not just fellow middle class families...does that make me pushy?

    I want a school that celebrates the whole community and doesn't poke fun and label children at other schools...does that make me pushy?

  17. ...and I want a school that treats boys and girls the same and doesn't obsess about gender...does that make me pushy?

  18. And I want a school with space for a playground.... Does that make me pushy?

  19. A person came up to me I signed and so did quite a lot of my friends ( i'm not a emmanuel parent) The person who came up to me Not this Clare person who you all seem to dislike she told me it was a free school and that the only way that it was going to open if parents supported it. I'm not a big fan of Free schools I have seen the press about some who have been badly managed

    Just a few questions

    Is this Clair going to be running the school or would a Head be?

    Are they paying people to give them advices who are these people that are taking £650?

    If they are saying things about our primary schools in Camden which are outstanding shouldn't we be complaining to the people who are funding them? ( the person who asked me to sign didn't say anything bad about schools to me)

    Also i thought all schools free schools or state schools (except church schools) all have to have distances from your home to your school

    Can Camden not build a new secondary school in our area or do what the Free school people are doing (I was so happy when UCL opened because I believed it would be a option but its not) reading somewhere else it seems Camden have the money now and doesn't need to sale of the land to build the school

    Also even if they get the green light as we have seen from other schools that got the green light but are not opening no building means no school so maybe we should campaign for Camden not to sale of the land and build a bigger school on the land

    I have a child going to secondary school soon I would think about sending my child to UCL but I'm not close enough, not so keen on Hampstead so going down the church school and hopefully sending her to St M she doesn't start for 2 years maybe Ill start my own campaign for Camden to build a bigger school on that land i'm not as articulate as some of you but i would like another school (new baby on the way and would like her /him to have a place) i would like to move closer to UCL but live in affordable housing

    Maybe what we should do is form our own group and forget about the Free school people and get Camden to build this school under Camden power so it covers both primary and secondary

    What do you think?

    1. Thanks for your comment. I will just answer on the Camden building a new school issue. Under the Coalition local councils no longer have the power to build new schools themselves and have to rely on academy or free school providers coming forward. Councils can get around this by expanding existing good or outstanding LA schools as they were proposing for Kingsgate Primary or opening 'sattelites' under the management of existing schools and this has happened with Leopold in Brent. This is much easier to do with primary schools. The problem is that Councils can't plan ahead for an increasing population on the basis of the whim of academy or free school providers and the possibility that they might open in an area of shortage. In fact they have often appeared where there is no shortage and so compete with existing schools rather than provide the needed additional places.

      This is why there is a campaign, supported by the Green Party, to give local councils back the powers to build new schools where they are needed. Google School Places Crisis for details.

    2. Thank you for your comment, I find other people's experiences and views on this free school very interesting.

      As Martin said above, Camden can't simply build a new school which is why they are expanding Kingsgate primary. Camden's projection for school place planning goes runs up to 2022/2023 school year and they have enough secondary places at least until that time, however, they are currently short of primary places. In the current school year, only 2 Camden secondary schools are full and they are UCL and Camden School for Girls. Camden has so many excellent choices and I encourage you to visit them.

      I wouldn't write off Hampstead without visiting. It is one of the most improved schools in the country and has a very good recent Ofsted inspection report. As the parent of a current student, I can tell you that my daughter is doing exceptionally well and the school is truly representative and inclusive of the community which it serves. The quality of the teaching staff and the management of the school is superb. Also, they have at least 3 or 4 free after school clubs everyday, there is endless choice in sports and both academic and non-academic clubs. They also run a low cost early morning and breakfast club.

      According to the free school website, Clare and the parents involved with setting up the school would be on the governing body of the school. I imagine Clare would naturally be chair of governors. As free schools are not locally accountable, the relationship between the free school and the head teachers from Hertfordshire is entirely their business and we will never see monetary transactions.

      The head teacher for the free school would be appointed by the governing body of the school. Free schools have had a hard time hiring and retaining head teachers and often end up with short term or inexperienced heads because the future for the programme is unclear. Also, many, if not most, qualified teachers don't like the idea of free schools because they do not require teachers to be qualified. This undermines their profession.

      Camden has had some money to provide new places in the borough but it is for the whole borough and there are places of greater need than West Hampstead. It would take the whole budget to build a new primary in NW6 and would leave nothing for the rest of the borough.

      Personally, I would love Camden to be able to build a new primary but it is not allowed under the current Tory/LibDem government policy.

      Since writing this blog post, another free school which had the green light in Brent has also announced that it won't open in September as planned. So that's 2 secondary free schools now not opening in Brent this September and one that will open.

      My fear is that to risk the expansion of Kingsgate school and bet on a free school getting final approval and actually opening on Liddell Road would get Camden nowhere in terms of addressing the desperate need for primary school places.

      I hope this helps.

    3. Thank you for your answer both of you Yes it helps I have heard some good things about Hampstead 6th Form but have heard negative things about the school from people who's children go to the school and I understand everyone's experience is different wouldn't it be nice to have a choices of schools locally why can't Camden and the free schools people work together? As some of you know the free school people couldn't you ask if that's possible or are the simplistic ideas the most complicated ones

    4. a) A Head will be appointed by the Governing Body of the School. As Clare is a doctor, not a teacher, it's unlikely to be her (but stranger things have happened - Pimlico Primary Academy appointed a head with no teaching experience whatsoever - she last 4 weeks)

      b) Are they paying people to give them advices who are these people that are taking £650? I don't know where the funds are coming from, but the advisors are the potential sponsors of the school - partially and completely selective schools in Hertfordshire, in the main, and members of the Senior Leadership Team.

      c) Can Camden not build a new secondary school in our area ? No,not allowed. It has to be an academy or free school. If you want this situation to change, you need to vote for a party that doesn't forbid councils from building schools...

      d) "no building means no school so maybe we should campaign for Camden not to sale of the land and build a bigger school on the land"; Well, quite. The campaign didn't prove that there was any need for a secondary school, whereas there was for a primary. Which is why it's going to be a primary. And the only way to make the site bigger would be to build on Maygrove that's going to go down well, isn't it ?

      e) "not so keen on Hampstead" - can I ask why ? What attracts you to UCL, other than the fact it's a new school ?

  20. With all the new housing developments and a growing population don't you think there is a need in west Hampstead also I don't want to send my child to Hampstead and with the things I've been reading about Free schools I don't think I want a free school but want a choice and would like my child to stay local what do I do?

  21. I don't know what to do and at first I thought the free school would be good and it would be local, that would be what I want. I don't think the new housing will effect West Hampstead as no family can afford them and they are all for foreign buyers anyway.

    I can see that no one is helping the problems with the plans all skewed and asking us to apply for schools that bfore they are built is madness really. The Brent problem has me questioning now and I don't want to end up running around trying to find a school in May because the school is not opening in September. How and why can this happening?

    I think there should be a protest with elections coming up as these policies are not working and the government is not providing any options except free schools which mostly can't open because they can't find sites.

    Hampstead is a bit of a trek for ours and not everyone can get in so what happens then? It has good results now so that makes it popular. I despair and it is agonising for parents but I think it's all politics they don't care about the children's education.
    Now that the councils can't build schools anymore and it feel like our kids are being used for profit as these new schools hire their families and pay Lord or Lady who ever via supposed charities into the firms that they run for profit. it's all corruption.

    1. Thank you for the above just what i wanted to say I'm like you don't mind the idea of free schools and love the idea of a school that starts from primary all the way to secondary. I know they have to choose the children who are closest to the school and I understand that a few may be chosen by lottery, when I signed up I thought if they got the ok the school would be built but as we can see that's not the case its mad.

      Looking at whats happening in Brent has made my worry for a school for my child Im like you not really wanting to go to Hampstead. Why would they do this say to parents yes you can have the school in September and then say no

      My message to the Government - please stop playing with our children's school either let Camden build or don't ok the free school and not allow them to open its not right

  22. Are some of the homes Council homes?

    1. According to the report, it will depend on the housing market at the time of the sale.

  23. I have put my child down to a school this year and named it our first choice. I know this must sound totally insane, but my first choice was given to a school that actually exists.

  24. No one can doubt the primary school crisis in Camden, this must be addressed fast and can be done so by expanding Kingsgate school.

    The free school campaign have encouraged parents to oppose Kingsgate because they no longer have a need for primary places as most them have their children at a Camden school in West Hampstead.

    The campaigners original campaign was for a secondary school based on their dissatisfaction of secondary choice on offer. They disguise their disdain by continually and incorrectly stating their is a secondary places crisis.

    I do not believe any of the campaigners have made the effort to tour Hampstead School. Perhaps that is where they should have started and shown an interest in the existing community.

  25. Seems like a waste of energy spending three months mugging parents at school gates for signatures that will likely never even get checked by the DfE. A big publicity stunt for a non existent school which may never actually be established. All courtesy of the tax payer.

    These free school campaigns are not based on any long term views as the parents here are only doing this now in readiness for their own children's move to secondary. Giving £millions to inexperienced parents to run a school is lunacy.

  26. I am a local parent and my child is due to start primary school in September 2015. As far as I have seen, the free school campaign has not been about slagging off or undermining other primary schools in the area but dealing with the places problem. We live very close to both Beckford and Emmanuel, yet last year we would have fallen outside the catchment areas. The Kingsgate expansion does not help my child or others of the same age and seems a pretty imperfect result for existing parents.

    I've talked to loads of people who are just grateful to Clare for volunteering to address a real problem.

    1. But Camden needs urgent primary places and not secondary so opening a massive secondary years in advance of it's need will be a huge waste of money.

      The real problem is the free school policy itself.

  27. Michaela free school says it will be "rigorously academic" and West Hampstead Free School says it will be "unashamedly academic" both in desperate attempts to appear like they will compete with private schools. Why? Both, if they ever materialise, will be state funded and in theory should serve all local children but not all children are academic so what happens to them?

    These two schools are aiming to exclude the average child and their websites are perhaps deliberately off putting to ordinary parents of ordinary children, aimed at middle class.

    One is aiming to open in an asbestos filled building which is going through a rush refurbishment. The other is at early campaign stage and is like a cult with brigades of them clustered outside schools, nurseries, coffee shops and parks.

  28. The campaigner of the NW6 free-school has promoted a negative portrayal of Camden Education and has openly been negative in the press about the local authority and the Hampstead School. I find this crass and the campaign crass but I find some comments on here equally crass.

  29. This blog aims to encourage debate and I am reluctant to censor contributions. Could I appeal to commenters to avoid personal attacks and concentrate on the issues and facts. I also prefer it if names are used at the end of contributions even if the 'Anon' option is used for posting. Thank you.

  30. Martin - I know you'd rather we said who we were, but some of us have good reason to remain anonymous. I will, however, sign off with an email address. I am the same poster who posted the contribution that starts "It's also worth noting that all the partner schools that Dr Craig..." on the 26th April at 18:02.

    Working backwards through some of the contributions.

    I'm intrigued by Michaela's school's proposed 'rigorous academic approach'. I think this conflates Ms Birbalsingh's disregard for most other schools, most of which, through necessity these days, are already 'rigorously academic' in any case, and an idea that times tables, learning Latin, rote learning, sitting in rows, teachers wearing gowns and strict discipline will always work whatever the environment. What Ms Birbalsingh really wants is a selective grammar school (or at least partially so), as I suspect, does Ms Craig and her cohort.

    To the poster who says that people are "grateful to Clare for volunteering to address a real problem" - I would contend that, outside of a small circle of disgruntled middle class parents, there is actually no problem. There is no shortage of secondary pupil places - by any estimation - in Brent or Camden, and to try and say there is, is utterly ridiculous. Sadly, the NW6 school campaign go in search of evidence solely to support their dubious claims, and disregard any evidence to the contrary, whereas decision makers have to balance the argument. If the issue is around quality of education - where is the evidence. Has Ofsted failed Hampstead School ? No, the school was "Good", under the much stricter regime adopted in 2012. Performance of % achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and maths GCSEs ? 63%. National and Camden average ? 59%. So it can't be that either. I suspect the diversity and lack of a Conservative style educational atmosphere is probably what's really behind this prejudice.

  31. The campaign has fallen apart and they are not reapplying to the DfE. Dr Craig is moving to New York.

    The End.