Council confirms facts about proposed Mortlake new secondary school, after local petition causes concern.
A petition has been launched by a local resident claiming that the Council has “handed over land” for a new school in Mortlake without any consultation or due diligence. The petition has raised a number of concerns as the information provided is misleading.
Currently the process in England to set up a new school is via the Free School application route, and whilst there is local discussion, decisions on which applications are approved are taken by the Government, not the Council.
As part of that decision-making process, the Department of Education (DfE) considers whether there is a local ‘need’ for the school and undertakes due diligence on the educational provider who has submitted the application. A Government Minister then makes the final decisions on whether applications are approved, and responsibility for identifying, negotiating and funding the locations of those which are approved passes to the DfE’s property arm, LocatEd.
The Aspirations Academies Trust is a leading free school provider in the UK with 14 schools across the country, including four in Hounslow. Over the past few years they have been working with the DfE and LocatEd on plans for a free school, which was originally approved in Wave 10 of the Free Schools’ programme in 2015, in East London.
However as there was no longer a need for additional secondary school places in that location, they were in need of an alternative site. LocatEd therefore looked to see where in London there was a need for a secondary school and saw that there was a clear need in the eastern half of Richmond upon Thames.
As part of a current Planning Application on behalf of the owners of the Stag Brewery in Mortlake. (Reselton Properties), it is proposed to create a new six-form entry secondary school. When full, the school would have 900 pupils in total across Years 7-11, plus a sixth form of 250.
Therefore, the DfE and LocatEd decided that the Aspirations Academies Trust school, subject to planning permission, would relocate to the Brewery site.
The School would be opened in partnership with, and named after, Ian Livingstone CBE, who co-founded the very successful retail company Games Workshop and lives within the borough.
Cllr Penny Frost, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Schools, said:
“This petition is very misleading. The Council has not ‘handed over’ any site. For a start we don’t own the brewery site. In addition, we are not responsible for approving or funding which organisation runs the school.
“We have worked with the DfE during their decision-making process to ensure that any provider selected is able to provide high quality, engaging and challenging education and we carry out our own due diligence into the company selected.