Academy axed as bosses say no need for extra school (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Oasis Community Learning scraps plans to open secondary academy in Waltham Forest less than a year after approval
An academy group has withdrawn its application to open a new free school in Waltham Forest less than a year after Department of Education approval.
Oasis Community Learning announced yesterday that plans to open the Oasis Community School Walthamstow were axed because of insufficient demand for secondary school places.
The decision comes three weeks after Oasis announced the opening would be deferred until 2015 because a site for the school’s construction could not be secured.
Campaigners for local authority education provision say it highlights a lack of transparency in the free school process and ask why the school was approved in the first place.
Three more free schools were given the green light to open in 2014 at the same time as the Oasis academy, one of which, Walthamstow Primary Academy, has also deferred opening until 2015 because of difficulties securing a site.
John Murphy, national director for Oasis Community Learning, said the group only wants to establish new academies where there is a clear need for school places.
“We are confident that there is already good quality provision within the area and would express an interest to work in partnership with the local authority if and when the demand for places rises in the future,” he added.
Councillor Clare Coghill, cabinet member for children and young people, said the decision is in the best interest of children and that a new secondary school will not be needed until 2017.
Our Community, Our Schools campaigner Jonathan White said the decision, which means the need for school places is being met by community schools, is excellent news.
He said: “That a school has been pre-approved, has never carried out its consultation and has been able to hype and market itself to the point of claiming they have a site only for the DfE to say there’s no need for the school says a lot about the chaos free schools policy is in.
“We don’t really know what’s happening here and that says a lot about the anarchy of the free schools policy – decisions are taken in secret, there’s not transparency and the community and local authority are never really involved.”
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