Article by Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children & Families

SAY NO TO THE ISLINGTON FREE SCHOOL

By Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children & Families 

Back in July I wrote about Michael Gove’s move to take a plot of land from the Council on which we plan to build 82 family homes, so that two private companies can start a Free School on the site – a school which we neither want nor need.

The consortium who are planning to open the Free School are currently conducting a flawed ‘consultation’. It seems that the only people they are contacting to ask for responses are people who have previously registered on their website as supporters! They don’t provide much information for people to base their responses on, and there are only five questions to respond to.

But you can make your voice heard by going to their website http://www.whitehallparkschool.co.uk/consultation/

A few points you might like to consider when responding:

- There is no evidence of parent led demand for a Free School – this bid seems to be led by the interests of two private education companies, not the wishes of a large number of local parents.

- Unlike other Boroughs, Islington does not have a shortage of school places. In fact 99.35% of Islington residents applying this year have been offered a place at one of their preferred schools. Our place planning shows that future need for places will be in the South of the Borough, not in the North, where there is the least need for places in the future.

- This Free School will mean less money to invest in Islington’s schools. We stand to lose £3M which we were planning to use for school repairs. That means windows, roofs and other basic improvements.

- The old Ashmount school building is not fit for use as a school.  We rebuilt the school down the road because the old building was beyond repair and would cost millions to bring up to any kind of acceptable standard. It has no disabled access and is freezing in the winter and boiling hot in the summer.

- This Free School will lower educational standards. Islington is currently the fourth best local authority in the country in terms of the number of good or outstanding schools we have. But Free Schools can employ unqualified teachers, and to the best of my knowledge this consortium have not yet even found a head teacher or wider leadership team for their school. 

Make sure you get your response in by the 28th October, when the consultation closes, and ask friends to make their voices heard too, especially local parents.

Please come and join Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, Cllr Richard Watts, the new Leader of Islington Council and myself, Cllr Joe Caluori, Lead Member for Children and Families at a public meeting to oppose the Free School at 7pm Thursday 24th October at Church Hall, Christ Church, Crouch End Hill, N8.

The meeting has been organised by Support Our Local Schools (SOLS) an alliance of local parents, teachers, governors and residents in Islington and Haringey.

We decided to rebuild Ashmount School at our own expense so local children could be educated in a modern, safe and attractive new building with amazing facilities. It was part of a wider plan to provide family homes and invest in the local area.

It is completely unfair that the Government can deprive 82 families of new homes and take £3M from our schools repairs budget to allow two companies to set up a Free School for which we have no use.

We need family homes, not this Free School. Make your voice heard.

- See more at: http://www.islington-labour.org.uk/say-no-to-the-islington-free-school/#sthash.iW6ZYe9m.dpuf

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