Leap forward for bid to open free school in Walthamstow

A CHRISTIAN group's plans to open a large secondary school have taken a major step forward after more than 500 families pledged their support.

Oasis Community Learning, in partnership with the parent-run Walthamstow Secondary School Initiative (WSSI), says it will now apply to the government for permission to open the 'free school' after securing the names in a petition. 

The show of support is vital because the government will only approve plans for new free schools if management can demonstrate there is demand from parents.

The organisation has identified several buildings in "central Walthamstow" where the school could be located, but it is not allowed to say exactly where because the government will be helping to negotiate over and pay for  the site.

It hopes to open the school in 2014 with an initial intake of 180 Year 7 pupils, which will increase year-on-year until it reaches its capacity of 1,080 children.

Mum-of-three Jen Powell, who founded WSSI before choosing to work with Oasis, said: “We are thrilled to have received the overwhelming support of local parents in Walthamstow for our proposal to create a new secondary school here.

"We look forward to continuing to work with Oasis as we consult with the wider community in Walthamstow and engage them with our plans.

"We would like to thank all those who have helped us with the campaign to date and urge anyone who would like to be involved to get in touch”.

Oasis describes its work as "motivated and inspired by the life, message and example of Christ."

However it insists the school will be "fully inclusive", accepting children irrespective of their religion or ability.

As a free school it would receive its funding direct from the government and be independent from council control, although it would still have to abide by the national curriculum.
 

Critics say free schools take valuable resources out of the education economy and disadvantage schools in poorer areas.

But Oasis says the new school would help tackle the borough's chronic shortage of pupil places, which the government predicts will top 7,000 by 2015/16.

Its founder Steve Chalke said: “I am delighted and encouraged by the response of local parents in Walthamstow to our plans for a new secondary school.

"Oasis looks forward to developing a community hub around the new school which will offer activities and services for students, their families and the wider community in partnership with local organisations”.

 

Comments (10)

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12:48pm Thu 8 Nov 12

hargwyne says...

Shoddy journalism here from WFG. Is this a top and tailed press release from Oasis? The truth is that there is considerable local opposition to plans for a free school and Jen Powell’s claim that they have “received the overwhelming support of local parents in Walthamstow” is very far from the truth.
WFG, read this. http://defendwaltham
foreststateschools.b
logspot.co.uk/
You may like to seek a comment to balance the press release you reprinted.
Shoddy journalism here from WFG. Is this a top and tailed press release from Oasis? The truth is that there is considerable local opposition to plans for a free school and Jen Powell’s claim that they have “received the overwhelming support of local parents in Walthamstow” is very far from the truth. WFG, read this. http://defendwaltham foreststateschools.b logspot.co.uk/ You may like to seek a comment to balance the press release you reprinted. hargwyne

1:12pm Thu 8 Nov 12

Beenderhuis says...

I second Hargwyne. What the WFG journalists should be doing is finding out what the REAL picture is regarding a supposed shortage of secondary places in the borough. There are many figures being bandied about, from Oasis's claim of a shortage of 7,000 places to a publicly available document from the council showing a large bulge in reception age children, peaking in 2014/15 and 2015/16 and then DECREASING year on year. The WSSI campaign is in large part based on stoking fear among parents about a lack of places. Go on WFG, go and find the facts and then come back with an article about that!
I second Hargwyne. What the WFG journalists should be doing is finding out what the REAL picture is regarding a supposed shortage of secondary places in the borough. There are many figures being bandied about, from Oasis's claim of a shortage of 7,000 places to a publicly available document from the council showing a large bulge in reception age children, peaking in 2014/15 and 2015/16 and then DECREASING year on year. The WSSI campaign is in large part based on stoking fear among parents about a lack of places. Go on WFG, go and find the facts and then come back with an article about that! Beenderhuis

3:00pm Thu 8 Nov 12

DominicW says...

Beenderhuis - you need to look at the whole picture. Firstly, the data to which you are referring are for reception age children, whereas the proposed school is for secondary pupils. Secondly, in the same report on the next page, it clearly states "The existing year 7 capacity of our secondary schools is 2710, which will be exceeded in 2014/15."
On that same page the graph shows fewer than 13,000 secondary school places in 2012/13 and well over 15,000 required from 2018/19, and continuing to increase for many years. That's at least two new (quite large) schools needed in the next few years, under the current government policy of "free schools or academies only". Or the current government completely changing its education policy now.

So it might even be a good idea to try both approaches: support local people wanting to create new schools and lobby local and national government to change funding policy.
Beenderhuis - you need to look at the whole picture. Firstly, the data to which you are referring are for reception age children, whereas the proposed school is for secondary pupils. Secondly, in the same report on the next page, it clearly states "The existing year 7 capacity of our secondary schools is 2710, which will be exceeded in 2014/15." On that same page the graph shows fewer than 13,000 secondary school places in 2012/13 and well over 15,000 required from 2018/19, and continuing to increase for many years. That's at least two new (quite large) schools needed in the next few years, under the current government policy of "free schools or academies only". Or the current government completely changing its education policy now. So it might even be a good idea to try both approaches: support local people wanting to create new schools and lobby local and national government to change funding policy. DominicW

5:41pm Thu 8 Nov 12

Silent Majority 2009 says...

So where is this school to be created, built may be optimistic! It will need a site about the size of Kelmscott and the obvious place is the car park in South Grove but Morrisons have bought that. The old Buxton site will be too small unless it is a skycraper to match the Travelodge. Willowfield's new school is yet to be built and they may also need to keep the old site to meet demand. Is the site to be the Chestnuts in Hoe Street?
So where is this school to be created, built may be optimistic! It will need a site about the size of Kelmscott and the obvious place is the car park in South Grove but Morrisons have bought that. The old Buxton site will be too small unless it is a skycraper to match the Travelodge. Willowfield's new school is yet to be built and they may also need to keep the old site to meet demand. Is the site to be the Chestnuts in Hoe Street? Silent Majority 2009

6:33pm Thu 8 Nov 12

Sam Hain says...

This a disaster and should be resisted by communities with utmost vigour. Free schools and academies are bad enough but when they're faith-run then, no pun intended, God help us! The French got it right in the late 19th century when minister Jules Ferry took away the right of the church to run schools and made the French system 'laique' (secular). Vive la France I say!
This a disaster and should be resisted by communities with utmost vigour. Free schools and academies are bad enough but when they're faith-run then, no pun intended, God help us! The French got it right in the late 19th century when minister Jules Ferry took away the right of the church to run schools and made the French system 'laique' (secular). Vive la France I say! Sam Hain

7:45am Fri 9 Nov 12

stickmanny says...

Horrible. Education is about opening minds.

There is no place for religion in education or politics.
Horrible. Education is about opening minds. There is no place for religion in education or politics. stickmanny

3:41pm Fri 9 Nov 12

noelgaagher says...

The local authority figures do show that the available number of secondary places will be exceeded in 2014/15, by 124 places. This will be by 223 places in 2014/15 and not the 7000 that is cited in the WF Guardian article.

These figures do not take into account the expansion of places in existing schools that is already planned and funded. The local authority have yet to make these plans publicly available.

The pattern of demand for reception places is important to consider, as these children will be taking secondary places in the longer term. The pattern is not one of a persisting increase in numbers.

There is evidence from other parts of the country of Free Schools causing problems for exisiting schools, as they do not participate in any coordinated approach to pupil numbers. A new school sounds nice, but do we want one at the expense of our existing schools?
The local authority figures do show that the available number of secondary places will be exceeded in 2014/15, by 124 places. This will be by 223 places in 2014/15 and not the 7000 that is cited in the WF Guardian article. These figures do not take into account the expansion of places in existing schools that is already planned and funded. The local authority have yet to make these plans publicly available. The pattern of demand for reception places is important to consider, as these children will be taking secondary places in the longer term. The pattern is not one of a persisting increase in numbers. There is evidence from other parts of the country of Free Schools causing problems for exisiting schools, as they do not participate in any coordinated approach to pupil numbers. A new school sounds nice, but do we want one at the expense of our existing schools? noelgaagher

4:43pm Fri 9 Nov 12

Helen, Walthamstow says...

noelgaagher wrote:
The local authority figures do show that the available number of secondary places will be exceeded in 2014/15, by 124 places. This will be by 223 places in 2014/15 and not the 7000 that is cited in the WF Guardian article.

These figures do not take into account the expansion of places in existing schools that is already planned and funded. The local authority have yet to make these plans publicly available.

The pattern of demand for reception places is important to consider, as these children will be taking secondary places in the longer term. The pattern is not one of a persisting increase in numbers.

There is evidence from other parts of the country of Free Schools causing problems for exisiting schools, as they do not participate in any coordinated approach to pupil numbers. A new school sounds nice, but do we want one at the expense of our existing schools?
Not as a point in support of free schools (I don't support them) but as a comment on a matter of fact, I contest the sentence: "The pattern is not one of a persisting increase in numbers."

Actually, the numbers of children in WF have been rising year on year since 2002 and the birth rates show no sign of slowing down or plateau-ing.

It was suggested in a comment above that numbers would begin to decrease after 2015/16, but that really is speculation. I am sure that statiticians are being quoted, but they have been getting the figures wrong for some time now.

Whatever way you look at it, the bulge in primary school numbers will not start to have a really profound impact on secondary schools until 2017/18 since most secondary schools in the borough are still carrying vacancies.
[quote][p][bold]noelgaagher[/bold] wrote: The local authority figures do show that the available number of secondary places will be exceeded in 2014/15, by 124 places. This will be by 223 places in 2014/15 and not the 7000 that is cited in the WF Guardian article. These figures do not take into account the expansion of places in existing schools that is already planned and funded. The local authority have yet to make these plans publicly available. The pattern of demand for reception places is important to consider, as these children will be taking secondary places in the longer term. The pattern is not one of a persisting increase in numbers. There is evidence from other parts of the country of Free Schools causing problems for exisiting schools, as they do not participate in any coordinated approach to pupil numbers. A new school sounds nice, but do we want one at the expense of our existing schools?[/p][/quote]Not as a point in support of free schools (I don't support them) but as a comment on a matter of fact, I contest the sentence: "The pattern is not one of a persisting increase in numbers." Actually, the numbers of children in WF have been rising year on year since 2002 and the birth rates show no sign of slowing down or plateau-ing. It was suggested in a comment above that numbers would begin to decrease after 2015/16, but that really is speculation. I am sure that statiticians are being quoted, but they have been getting the figures wrong for some time now. Whatever way you look at it, the bulge in primary school numbers will not start to have a really profound impact on secondary schools until 2017/18 since most secondary schools in the borough are still carrying vacancies. Helen, Walthamstow

11:20am Tue 13 Nov 12

noelgaagher says...

Helen, Walthamstow wrote:
noelgaagher wrote: The local authority figures do show that the available number of secondary places will be exceeded in 2014/15, by 124 places. This will be by 223 places in 2014/15 and not the 7000 that is cited in the WF Guardian article. These figures do not take into account the expansion of places in existing schools that is already planned and funded. The local authority have yet to make these plans publicly available. The pattern of demand for reception places is important to consider, as these children will be taking secondary places in the longer term. The pattern is not one of a persisting increase in numbers. There is evidence from other parts of the country of Free Schools causing problems for exisiting schools, as they do not participate in any coordinated approach to pupil numbers. A new school sounds nice, but do we want one at the expense of our existing schools?
Not as a point in support of free schools (I don't support them) but as a comment on a matter of fact, I contest the sentence: "The pattern is not one of a persisting increase in numbers." Actually, the numbers of children in WF have been rising year on year since 2002 and the birth rates show no sign of slowing down or plateau-ing. It was suggested in a comment above that numbers would begin to decrease after 2015/16, but that really is speculation. I am sure that statiticians are being quoted, but they have been getting the figures wrong for some time now. Whatever way you look at it, the bulge in primary school numbers will not start to have a really profound impact on secondary schools until 2017/18 since most secondary schools in the borough are still carrying vacancies.
The comment that the pattern of demand for reception places is not one of a persisting increase is a description of the Local Authority's projections. Of course there will be a margin of error associated with these, but the model used to generate the predictions is checked for accuracy when actual demand is known, and so they perhaps differ from speculation. (The basis for the projections includes birth rate.)
[quote][p][bold]Helen, Walthamstow[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]noelgaagher[/bold] wrote: The local authority figures do show that the available number of secondary places will be exceeded in 2014/15, by 124 places. This will be by 223 places in 2014/15 and not the 7000 that is cited in the WF Guardian article. These figures do not take into account the expansion of places in existing schools that is already planned and funded. The local authority have yet to make these plans publicly available. The pattern of demand for reception places is important to consider, as these children will be taking secondary places in the longer term. The pattern is not one of a persisting increase in numbers. There is evidence from other parts of the country of Free Schools causing problems for exisiting schools, as they do not participate in any coordinated approach to pupil numbers. A new school sounds nice, but do we want one at the expense of our existing schools?[/p][/quote]Not as a point in support of free schools (I don't support them) but as a comment on a matter of fact, I contest the sentence: "The pattern is not one of a persisting increase in numbers." Actually, the numbers of children in WF have been rising year on year since 2002 and the birth rates show no sign of slowing down or plateau-ing. It was suggested in a comment above that numbers would begin to decrease after 2015/16, but that really is speculation. I am sure that statiticians are being quoted, but they have been getting the figures wrong for some time now. Whatever way you look at it, the bulge in primary school numbers will not start to have a really profound impact on secondary schools until 2017/18 since most secondary schools in the borough are still carrying vacancies.[/p][/quote]The comment that the pattern of demand for reception places is not one of a persisting increase is a description of the Local Authority's projections. Of course there will be a margin of error associated with these, but the model used to generate the predictions is checked for accuracy when actual demand is known, and so they perhaps differ from speculation. (The basis for the projections includes birth rate.) noelgaagher

4:55pm Tue 20 Nov 12

Misophoniac says...

"Oasis describes its work as "motivated and inspired by the life, message and example of Christ."

Which is precisely why they should not be in charge of running a school.
"Oasis describes its work as "motivated and inspired by the life, message and example of Christ." Which is precisely why they should not be in charge of running a school. Misophoniac

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