Free schools for West London?

West London could be home to three of the first “free schools”, the idea brought in by the Coalition Government. Two would be in Hammersmith & Fulham, with one occupying the empty Wormholt Library. The other could be anywhere in West London, but most of the people involved are focussed on Ealing.

The Free Schools will be separate from Local Authority control. Since the announcement of the idea, various groups have been applying to the Department of Education for permission to set one up. Over 100 applications were received in total. Now Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced a national list of 16 which have passed the stage.

Rivendale Free School, promoted by local businessman James Woods, and Burlington Primary Academy, which would be run by North Hammersmith Parent’s Group and ARK Academies, would both be in Shepherd’s Bush. The Burlington would aim to take over the empty council-owned Wormholt Library site, in The Curve, Shepherd’s Bush. Both have made the next round.

Also successful at this stage was the West London Free School, proposed by a group of around 600 West London Parents, mostly based in Ealing. This one will have a “classical curriculm”, with Latin compulsory. While the location is not yet fixed, it aims to be in West London.

The schools now have to put together a business case, working toward opening in September 2011.

The announcement has been welcomed by Hammersmith & Fulham Council who told the Hammersmith Chronicle it will give welcome choice to parents in the borough.

Councillor Helen Binmore, H&F cabinet member for children’s services, said: “The council is throwing its weight behind local free schools precisely because they offer the chance to provide hundreds of new places, serving some of our most deprived neighbourhoods.”

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