Two New Free Schools for Shepherds Bush

Rivendale and Burlington Primary could be here by 2011

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Two new "free schools" in Shepherds Bush are among the first batch of 16 given the green light by the Coalition Government.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said the schools, which are state funded but outside of local authority control, had all been driven by demand from local people.

They could be open by September 2011.

The local schools are Rivendale Free School and Burlington Primary.

Rivendale Free School will have no religious ethos and the group behind it hope that it will offer an alternative to the area's faith schools for children of non-faith or multi-faith backgrounds. The school will be set in Shepherds Bush, but the group are still looking for suitable premises.

Burlingon Primary, which had also had the working title Womholt North Hammersmith Free School, is to be run by ARK Academies, which also runs some other academies in London, alongside the North Hammersmith Parent Group. The school could be set up in Wormholt library, currently owned by Hammersmith and Fulham council, on the deprived White City estate.

West London Free School in the neighbouring borough of Ealing, which has been strongly promoted by a group of parents including journalist Toby Young has also been approved.

Announcing the proposed new schools, which include a number run by faith groups, Mr Gove said: " I am delighted that so many promising proposals have come forward at such an early stage. I hope that many of the projects progressing today will become the first free schools in September 2011."

But he admitted: "This is a challenging timescale, and some groups may decide that it is preferable to open at a later date for practical reasons."

Each group will now be given support from the Department for Education, but final permission will only be given after officials have approved a final business case.

MP for Hammersmith Andy Slaughter has hit out at the government's policy on schools, which has seen 13 building projects axed in the borough while new schools, including the state of the art Hammersmith Academy are being built and the new free schools are given the green light.

In  his latest newsletter Mr Slaughter says: " Hammersmith has been particularly badly hit by the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future budget. 13 schools here have lost all their funding, including Phoenix, William Morris and Sacred Heart, but also special schools and the pupil referral unit. That means a loss of £200 million just in the borough, but kids going out of borough will hear the same bad news.

" But this isn’t about saving money, it’s about special treatment. Private companies are honing in on H&F, just as developers do, with the aim of setting up selective schools alongside existing primaries. They can attract pupils using generous Government grants.

" The one going into the Wormholt Tenants’ Hall by the A40 has been gifted £850,000 by the council and is bidding for £8 million from the government.

" It is evicting the Tenants and Residents’ Association in the process and closing a couple of roads, but who’s counting?"

September 6, 2010