Tuesday 3 March 2015

Chaos as Gladstone Free School defers opening yet again. Time to call it a day?

Just the day after Year 6 children in Brent primary schools recieved their first offer of a secondary school place, the controversial Gladstone Free School has announced that for the second time it is deferring its opening as it has no school building or site.

This leaves the 120 11-12 year olds due to start Year 7 in September 2015 without a place. A writer on this blog last week unearthed some facts about the school and associated business interests, as well as the amount it has already received without educating a single child. LINK

The question now, surely,  must be should the DfE withdraw support for this school in ortder to safeguard public money as well as stop the confusion and disappointment suffered by Brent children as a consequence of this shambles,

This is the statement put up on the school's website today:

Gladstone School, the New Free School approved to open to serve NW2 and NW10, is today announcing that the Department for Education (DfE) has been unable to secure permanent premises in time for a September 2015 opening, and as a result the school has no alternative but to delay its opening for a second time.

Gladstone School Trust, the parent-led community group behind the school, are profoundly disappointed that the DfE have confirmed this position, and  that their hopes to secure a school site for their opening in September 2015 have been dashed. 

The school was previously forced to defer in June of 2014, disappointing nearly 100 pupil who had been offered provisional places at the school.

Plans for the new school, expected to take in 120 girls and boys, have been developed in detail since the approval for the school was granted in 2013. The Trust has been waiting ever since for news that the DfE and the Education Funding Agency, (EFA), have secure temporary and permanent sites for the school.

The DfE have been advising since August 2014 that certainty on a permanent site was imminent, but this afternoon admitted that negotiations to confirm a site in time for September 2015 had failed.
Paul Phillips, Principal Designate, said today, “This will be hugely disappointing news for pupils and parents hoping for places for this September. Governors have worked tirelessly for years now on plans for what promises to be a truly exceptional school. The DfE and Brent Council recognise the growing need for school places, and have already requested an increase in the size if Gladstone School for September 2016 to help ease the pressure in Brent. We will shortly be meeting as a Trust with the Department to agree what happens next”.

Chair of Governors and founder parent Maria Evans said: “This is heart-breaking news for us all. The loss of these 120 places will increase pressure on all Brent secondary schools to expand to accommodate the growing numbers. The fact is that spiralling London property prices are putting the needs of education beyond the reach of the public purse. We will of course continue to work with Brent Council and the EFA  to identify alternative premises to help relieve this problem and get this visionary school back on track for a September 2016 opening”.

I advise any parent offered this school yesterday to contact Brent Council Admisisons Service as soon as possible.


Anonymous said...

Shambles (though a profitable one if you know how to play it). What a surprise.

Anonymous said...

Third year's the charm to find a site?

Anonymous said...

Pathetic. DfE needs to dump it and the whole ridiculous programme now

Anonymous said...

For "Free School", read "expensive non-school".

Another example of Michael Gove's disastrous ideological gamble that has gone horribly wrong. His successor, Nicky Morgan, needs to rethink this policy before it wastes even more taxpayers' money.

Philip Grant.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree

I whole rethink of how new schools are Commission.

Localism was to devolve power to local areas so better decisions could be made in local context.

The market solution is not the solution. Large number of variables to consider when planning new place provision.

Given Brent Councils recent decision making on increasing school capcacity to over 1000 at a primary level my faith even in Brent Councils ability to make good decisions on school planning is also called into question.

Some form of local schools board covering a number of local Boroughs with the ability to planning the best new school options I think might be a possible solution.

Anonymous said...

Looks like this school will never open.

After May elections the old will be swept away replaced by the new.

As is always the case the new will not want to associate themselves with such a controversial policy as Free Schools.

Anonymous said...

Bye Bye Gladstone School.

Nice idea, but it will just remain your dream.

Anonymous said...

Any news on One Degree Academy? Surely by now the EFA would have identified every single useable site in Brent.

Anonymous said...

I see the website is still listing Professor Neelands as a governor. That's odd - according to Companies House he left the board nearly a year ago (the notification's dated 4th April 2014).