Oasis Community Learning scraps plans to open secondary academy in Waltham Forest less than a year after approval

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Academy axed as bosses say no need for extra school Academy axed as bosses say no need for extra school

An academy group has withdrawn its application to open a new free school in Waltham Forest less than a year after Department of Education approval.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.”

Comments (6)

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11:43am Fri 7 Feb 14

Robert19 says...

This is a good result. We do not want another faith school in Waltham Forest. They are divisive and work against building social cohesion. The proposed Islamic girls school is worse as it will have a bad effect on gender balance in surrounding mixed gender schools - some already having a three boys to one girls gender mix.

You could not invent a worse system for developing school places whereby applicants do not need to have premises, they get approval before consultation and they do not need to be in an area with the need for additional school places. Often with new academies and free schools they are in totally inadequate accommodation - old factories or offices with no outdoor space. Another Gove mad idea not thought through except as a means to destroy local accountability, co-ordination and support.
This is a good result. We do not want another faith school in Waltham Forest. They are divisive and work against building social cohesion. The proposed Islamic girls school is worse as it will have a bad effect on gender balance in surrounding mixed gender schools - some already having a three boys to one girls gender mix. You could not invent a worse system for developing school places whereby applicants do not need to have premises, they get approval before consultation and they do not need to be in an area with the need for additional school places. Often with new academies and free schools they are in totally inadequate accommodation - old factories or offices with no outdoor space. Another Gove mad idea not thought through except as a means to destroy local accountability, co-ordination and support. Robert19

11:47am Fri 7 Feb 14

noelgaagher says...

The Oasis Academy Walthamstow website still carries the claim "There is an estimated shortfall of over 700 secondary places in the borough by 2014-2015." It is hard to draw a conclusion other than that they are simply making it up. This proposal has never been about meeting the needs of Waltham Forest's children, nor involving parents, who are completely sidelined in Oasis schools' governance structures.
The Oasis Academy Walthamstow website still carries the claim "There is an estimated shortfall of over 700 secondary places in the borough by 2014-2015." It is hard to draw a conclusion other than that they are simply making it up. This proposal has never been about meeting the needs of Waltham Forest's children, nor involving parents, who are completely sidelined in Oasis schools' governance structures. noelgaagher

4:34pm Fri 7 Feb 14

Helen, Walthamstow says...

While I hold no brief for free schools, I do hope the council is already planning for secondary expansion and not leaving it to drag on, as it did with the primary schools. The result of that failure was that primaries in Walthamstow, Leyton and Leytonstone ended up with a forest of mobile classrooms until the money was found for permanent extensions.

As things stand in 2014, the secondary sector in the borough still has capacity for extra pupils but it has been known since 2008 that 2018 would be the year when there was no space left, and the secondary population will grow year on year. Currently, many primary schools that previously had one, two or three forms now have four, five, six or even in one case seven forms of entry in Reception and Years 1 and 2 as well as extended numbers of children in Years 3 to 6.

The council is not helping by planning so many new homes. They may house local families living in overcrowded accommodation, but everyone with half a brain - and that doesn't appear to include our ruling Labour councillors - knows that the overcrowded accommodation vacated by one family will quickly be snapped up by another family.

The government is not helping either. Under Gove's administration, only free school or academy groups can build new schools, leaving boroughs at the mercy of that sector.
While I hold no brief for free schools, I do hope the council is already planning for secondary expansion and not leaving it to drag on, as it did with the primary schools. The result of that failure was that primaries in Walthamstow, Leyton and Leytonstone ended up with a forest of mobile classrooms until the money was found for permanent extensions. As things stand in 2014, the secondary sector in the borough still has capacity for extra pupils but it has been known since 2008 that 2018 would be the year when there was no space left, and the secondary population will grow year on year. Currently, many primary schools that previously had one, two or three forms now have four, five, six or even in one case seven forms of entry in Reception and Years 1 and 2 as well as extended numbers of children in Years 3 to 6. The council is not helping by planning so many new homes. They may house local families living in overcrowded accommodation, but everyone with half a brain - and that doesn't appear to include our ruling Labour councillors - knows that the overcrowded accommodation vacated by one family will quickly be snapped up by another family. The government is not helping either. Under Gove's administration, only free school or academy groups can build new schools, leaving boroughs at the mercy of that sector. Helen, Walthamstow

6:50pm Fri 7 Feb 14

mdj says...

Er, if more secondary places are foreseen to be needed in only two years time, how long will it take to get one up and running? To start now would seem a very short lead-in time, whether you support Free Schools or not.

Cllr Coghill could have taken the opportunity to stress the insane fact that councils are not allowed to open new schools; this may account for the surreal spectacle of the new building on Hoe St being described as an annex to Barclay School, half a mile away.
Er, if more secondary places are foreseen to be needed in only two years time, how long will it take to get one up and running? To start now would seem a very short lead-in time, whether you support Free Schools or not. Cllr Coghill could have taken the opportunity to stress the insane fact that councils are not allowed to open new schools; this may account for the surreal spectacle of the new building on Hoe St being described as an annex to Barclay School, half a mile away. mdj

8:35pm Fri 7 Feb 14

noelgaagher says...

Helen, Walthamstow wrote:
While I hold no brief for free schools, I do hope the council is already planning for secondary expansion and not leaving it to drag on, as it did with the primary schools. The result of that failure was that primaries in Walthamstow, Leyton and Leytonstone ended up with a forest of mobile classrooms until the money was found for permanent extensions.

As things stand in 2014, the secondary sector in the borough still has capacity for extra pupils but it has been known since 2008 that 2018 would be the year when there was no space left, and the secondary population will grow year on year. Currently, many primary schools that previously had one, two or three forms now have four, five, six or even in one case seven forms of entry in Reception and Years 1 and 2 as well as extended numbers of children in Years 3 to 6.

The council is not helping by planning so many new homes. They may house local families living in overcrowded accommodation, but everyone with half a brain - and that doesn't appear to include our ruling Labour councillors - knows that the overcrowded accommodation vacated by one family will quickly be snapped up by another family.

The government is not helping either. Under Gove's administration, only free school or academy groups can build new schools, leaving boroughs at the mercy of that sector.
The problem - well, one of them - for the local authority is that the money for school places is given in dribs and drabs, very late in the day, by central government. Waltham Forest even had to take the government to court over honouring contracts agreed prior to cancellation of the 'Building Schools for the Future."
[quote][p][bold]Helen, Walthamstow[/bold] wrote: While I hold no brief for free schools, I do hope the council is already planning for secondary expansion and not leaving it to drag on, as it did with the primary schools. The result of that failure was that primaries in Walthamstow, Leyton and Leytonstone ended up with a forest of mobile classrooms until the money was found for permanent extensions. As things stand in 2014, the secondary sector in the borough still has capacity for extra pupils but it has been known since 2008 that 2018 would be the year when there was no space left, and the secondary population will grow year on year. Currently, many primary schools that previously had one, two or three forms now have four, five, six or even in one case seven forms of entry in Reception and Years 1 and 2 as well as extended numbers of children in Years 3 to 6. The council is not helping by planning so many new homes. They may house local families living in overcrowded accommodation, but everyone with half a brain - and that doesn't appear to include our ruling Labour councillors - knows that the overcrowded accommodation vacated by one family will quickly be snapped up by another family. The government is not helping either. Under Gove's administration, only free school or academy groups can build new schools, leaving boroughs at the mercy of that sector.[/p][/quote]The problem - well, one of them - for the local authority is that the money for school places is given in dribs and drabs, very late in the day, by central government. Waltham Forest even had to take the government to court over honouring contracts agreed prior to cancellation of the 'Building Schools for the Future." noelgaagher

12:59am Sat 8 Feb 14

Villagecranberry says...

This is all about money! Control is the essence and if released in stages, of course problems emerge. Funding should be all agreed as part of the entire business plan, not on whims? I have seen it all before, promises above substance and eventually only one set of people suffer, yes the children. So sad as this academy was the one that would have stood out from the rest, played a part and secured jobs.
This is all about money! Control is the essence and if released in stages, of course problems emerge. Funding should be all agreed as part of the entire business plan, not on whims? I have seen it all before, promises above substance and eventually only one set of people suffer, yes the children. So sad as this academy was the one that would have stood out from the rest, played a part and secured jobs. Villagecranberry

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