Heads together to solve school places shortfall
Warning of ‘significant shortage’ in Hillingdon prompts application for free school
HUNDREDS of children in Hillingdon could be without a secondary school place if a new school isn’t built by 2018.
So five secondary schools have put their heads together to try to overcome this ‘worrying’ shortfall, and create a new free school in the north of the borough.
Headteachers from Ruislip High School, Haydon School, Northwood School, Vyners School and Queensmead School have applied to the Department for Education to create a whole new school they hope will open in September 2018.
The significant increase in school aged children in Hillingdon means that demand could soon outweigh supply, particularly in the north of the borough.
According to council statistics provided to schools in the area, by September 2019 there could be 349 pupils in the north of the borough without a secondary school to go to – enough to fill an entire secondary school year group.
Robert Jones, Haydon School headteacher, said: “There’s going to be a significant shortage of school places projected by September 2018, particularly in the north of the borough and the numbers get very high in 2019.
“Some local schools have been asked to expand to try to meet the shortfall but it looks like there’ll be reason to have at least one more new school, possibly more than that.
“So the five schools decided the best approach would be a collaborative approach for a comprehensive school.”
The five headteachers have set up Hillingdon Education Trust to form a new school with 180 pupils per year plus a sixth form, called Hillingdon High School. It will admit children of all faiths and none, giving priority to local children and their siblings from the second year of opening.
The Bishop Ramsey Academy Trust has also put in a similar bid to create a Bishop Arden Church of England School, which will build upon principles established at Bishop Ramsey Church of England School in Ruislip, but will offer at least 50% of places to children of non-Christian faiths or no faith.
Mr Jones continued: “Our view is that a non-selective school would better meet the needs of the local community.
“The idea being that the new school would appoint a new headteacher and initially some of the headteachers would be on the governing body, but in time it would be like the existing schools.”
Free schools are non-profitmaking, independent schools, which are state funded. Similar to academies, they are not controlled by a local authority and are instead governed by charitable trusts.
A decision on the future of Hillingdon High School is likely to be made in September, but Mr Jones thinks the difficulty will be finding a site to build the school on.
He said: “It could take quite a while to get to planning application stage, as we have to find a site – the local authority have got some sites in mind but they have not yet disclosed those to us.”
Parents, particularly those with children in Years 3 and 4, are being urged to attend a public meeting on the application, to show their support to the Education Minister.
Mr Jones added: “For parents of students in Year 3 and 4, the figures are quite worrying.
“If nothing changes, there’s a chance your child won’t get a local school place, so part of the process that we have to go through is an information gathering process with parents.
“We’re currently meeting with primary school headteachers and sending out communication, with those schools, to parents.”
There will be an open meeting on Monday April 25 at Winston Churchill Hall, Ruislip, from 6.307.30pm to discuss the proposals
n VISION: Martina Lecky, Robert Jones, Mark Anderson, James Heale and Rhona Johnston want to create a new secondary school in Hillingdon to address a predicted shortfall in places