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Sunday, 8 November 2015

School Place Crisis

Among the reports at the next Brent Cabinet meeting is one on school places, with frankly terrifying implications.  It asks members to:



"Note that the demand for  Secondary Places will increase  from September 2016 with demand outstripping supply from 2018. depending on the size of sites, the equivalent of two or three additional secondary schools will be needed by the 2022/23 academic year."

I well recall the controversy over the building of the ARK Academy in Wembley which attracted some very strange debate.  The Lib Dem/ Tory administration in charge of the Council ordered a review of all the available sites, and none of them were brilliant.  I simply can't imagine where two or three secondary schools can be built.

It also illustrates a point I have made before that authorities still have a requirement to provide school places, but not the powers.  As the report says, Brent has no community secondary schools, and no power to demand an academy expands or ability to build a new school, except as an academy.  The Council is dependent on other parties to make things happen.  In the case of the Gladstone Free school, they simply didn't.  Altogether, it strikes me that such a system is unsustainable.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you on this James. I led a school student team made up of primary and secondary pupils to look at potential sites under the Lib Dem/Tory Coalition. They rejected most sites and some were sceptical about the eventual Ark site in terms of proximity to other schools. Now with the Michaela Free School and French school added into the equation along with the expanded Preston Manor at the end of the school day it can be pretty chaotic in that small corner of Wembley Park.

    As there is an imbalance in secondary provision between the north and south of the borough a site south of the North Circular would seem most appropriate and would ease some of the strain on public transport.

    The Unisys/Bridge Park site is far from ideal due to its proximity to air pollution on the North Circular but as regeneration is underway in that area I am surprised a school site hasn't been considered.

    Of course as all our secondary schools are now academies and the absurd government policy that LAs cannot provide new schools remains, Brent Council is in the hands of academy chains and the Education Funding Agency.

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