Parents form new Crystal Palace free school bid

Croydon Guardian: Deborah Gostling Deborah Gostling

A new free school bid is being put together by a group of parents in Crystal Palace after concerns about the lack of school places.

The group want to set up Crystal Palace Primary School so they can offer school places to families in the area who are having trouble getting a primary school place.

It would be a two form entry school, catering for pupils from reception to Year 6 and the group are aiming to open the school in September 2015.

They have already been accepted onto the New Schools Network Development Programme which gives specialist support, such as one on one meetings, to applicants it thinks have a good chance of getting through the Department for Education (DofE) application.

No proposed location for the school has yet been given.

The group, who first thought of the idea earlier this year, are looking to submit their application to the DofE in January 2014.

Free schools are all-ability schools set up in response to parental demand in a particular area. It would be an independent, state-funded school set up by members of the community.

According to the Department of Education 174 free schools have been set up since 2011.

In Croydon, there are currently no free schools but three have been approved to open in 2014.

The Harris Invictus Free School, Paxton Academy Sports and Science and the Advance School, Norbury, were granted approval from the DofE.

Deborah Gostling, the educational lead of the Crystal Palace Primary School, said there are three to ten applicants per primary school place in the area.

The 35-year-old teacher, who lives in Upper Norwood with her husband and two children, said she is excited about setting up the school.

She said: "There is a massive looming crisis on Primary School places, especially in London. Our area is no exception.

"We want to add provision in Crystal Palace as the catchment of our local schools is shrinking considerably as the demand for them goes up.

"A lot of parents are shocked at what this means for their children. We want to create an excellent school and ensure there is another great school for Crystal Palace."

Research from the Local Governmnet Associaiton published last week showed Croydon would have the most over-subscribed primary schools in the country by 2016-17, with thousands of pupils potentially without a primary school place.

The group are holding two information evenings on their plans at the Phoenix Centre, Westow Street, Upper Norwood, on September 20 and 27, from 7pm to 8.30pm.

 

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