We are sorry to say that the Department for Education’s latest guidance on free school applications makes it very difficult for us to proceed at the present time. Our intention to submit a new application this month will have to be put on hold.
In the future, free schools like ours will only be approved if there is a clear ‘basic need’ case for a new school – i.e. a projected shortage of school places in the local area which matches the size of the proposed school. Although there are over 1,000 children of secondary school age living in our locality and no secondary school, our community is deemed not to ‘need’ a school because our children can be dispersed in all directions to schools elsewhere, frequently to other boroughs across London.
There is an increase in secondary-age children in other parts of Camden and in neighbouring boroughs and there are proposed expansions of existing schools to accommodate this. Our planned application pointed out that the creation of The Holborn School would reduce the pressure on these schools by enabling our children to remain in their own community attending their own local school, and building on the outstanding work of our primary schools. However, we would have to secure the support of the relevant local authorities if we were to make this case to the DfE and this cannot be done quickly or easily.
Under the DfE’s new guidelines, parental demand, the unfair geographical distribution of schools, community cohesion and the huge educational benefits of primary-secondary continuity are no longer seen as sufficient to justify the provision of a local school. We believe that this grossly undervalues the outstanding work being done in our local primary schools and the overwhelming support for our campaign from all members of our community.
Our campaign to challenge this unfair and damaging situation needs to continue if we are ever going to give all local children equality of opportunity at secondary level.
The Holborn School Campaign will continue to be driven by a core group of parents with young children, backed up by committed local people who believe this fight must go on for the sake of the community. Policies will come and go but our right to a local secondary school remains and we must continue to campaign for the benefit of present and future generations. As a subscriber to our newsletter, we will keep you in touch with progress, and we will update our website so that you can find information there as well.
Thank you for your continued support.