Two new free schools in Hammersmith & Fulham are among 102 new schools that were approved by the Department for Education on Friday (July 13).
A primary school for West London Free School (WLFS) in Hammersmith, and Church of England school, Fulham Boys’ School (FBS), have been given the green light to open from September 2013.
The news comes as WLFS – one of the first 24 free schools to be approved in the UK – nears the end of its first year. Toby Young, school governor and founding sponsor of WLFS, said: "It's fantastic news. Any child at the primary will automatically transfer to the secondary so in seven years time at least half the children entering the secondary will already have had an excellent education."
The expansion of WLFS will help meet the rapidly rising demand for primary places in the borough. The plan is to locate the primary school at Cambridge Grove, where the secondary school is currently based, providing an innovative ‘all-through’ school for children aged three to 19. The secondary school’s long term home will be Palingswick House, Hammersmith from September 2013, pending refurbishment.
FBS, which does not yet have a site, aims to open in September 2013, with a first intake of 120 Year 7 boys. It will become the first all-boys Church of England school in the borough, matching parental demand for a school to mirror the set-up of all-girls’ C of E school, Lady Margaret – which will become FBS’ sister school.
The proposed admissions policy for FBS will give priority to C of E families for 50 per cent of the places, if oversubscribed, with the other 50 per cent will be open to families of all faiths or of none.
FBS chairman, Alex Wade, said:
“This is fantastic news for Fulham parents. There’s currently a big gap locally at secondary level for boys, and we’re delighted that the department has bought into our vision for an outstanding education, specifically designed to raise local aspirations and bring out the best in boys.”
H&F Council is one of the country's leading supporters of extending parental choice through free schools, with two free schools already up and running in the borough.
The council's children's services cabinet member, Cllr Helen Binmore, said:
"This announcement is great news for the borough. It will give parents even more choice when making the important decisions about their children’s education.
“WLFS has proved incredibly popular with local parents, and these two new schools are wonderful additions to the borough, bringing much needed extra spaces to H&F. Demand for places outstrips supply in H&F and these new schools will help us to deliver our commitment to providing a first-rate education for all local children. Fulham Boys’ School is a great option for parents who want their sons to go to an all-boys school with a faith background – and offers parents this opportunity for the first time ever.”
According to current projections, 1,643 children of primary school age will be applying for reception places in 2013. There are currently 1,508 places available. Additional permanent and temporary 'bulge' places are currently being developed in schools where demand is greatest. These include St Stephen’s Primary School, Pope John Primary School and Burlington Danes Academy.
Current data indicates that over the next few years a further three additional forms of entry will be required in the north and two additional forms of entry will be required in the centre of the borough.
The council’s strategy of ‘Schools of Choice’ placed parental preference as a key priority when considering expansion or development of school provision. Capital funding for the projects will be provided by the government at no financial detriment to other schools.