Parents Begin Fight to Save Sulivan School

As council proposes merger to free site for boys school

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Local parents have begun a campaign to save Sulivan Primary School in Fulham's Peterborough Road after Hammersmith and Fulham Council asked people for their views on a proposal to amalgamate two small primary schools in Fulham - Sulivan and New King's - which the council says would "create a combined school with better facilities, offering a richer educational experience".

The council's announcement makes it clear the proposal would mean using the New King's site on New King's Road, saying would provide up to £2 million to redesign and re-equip it with the latest teaching facilities.

This, says the council would have the "added benefit" of releasing the Sulivan school site to be used by Fulham Boys Free School. This school has been given the go-ahead by the Government to offer 120 secondary places per year, but has been forced to postpone its proposed opening this September because it had not found a suitable site.

The council says both New King’s and Sulivan in Peterborough Road struggle with small pupil numbers – they take only 75 pupils per year between them.

Small schools attract less funding than larger schools and consequently find it harder to provide a similar breadth of opportunity. Both schools are also hampered by unfilled places – both schools being chosen by relatively few families as their first or second preference school.

By amalgamating on one site, they could reduce their running costs and take better advantage of economies of scale to improve facilities and learning experiences.

" Our Schools of Choice programme is driven by what parents tell us they want, through their list of preferences when applying for schools," says Cllr Georgie Cooney, Cabinet Member for Education.

" We think that bringing together these two schools on one site, building on the best from each, will help the amalgamated school attract more families, fill current surplus places and provide a securer future. We recognise that change always brings some disruption and parents will want to raise specific questions and issues, so we will be organising meetings and briefings to involve them at an early stage in developing our plans."

Local parents however have reacted quickly, creating a Save Sulivan School Facebook page saying: " Sulivan is a community school that students past and present love and are proud ot. Please join us in trying to save it."

The campaigners are asking local people to make their voices heard by completing the online questionnaire and attending public meetings which the council is planning to hold in September.

The founders of Fulham Boys School meanwhile have confirmed their interest in Sulivan School's site as the permanent home for the state-funded Church of England Free School if it should become vacant.

FBS Chair of Governors, Alex Wade, says: : “Our application to open a free school was based on the high demand in Fulham for an outstanding Church of England secondary school, open to boys from all local primaries, and from all faiths and none.

" We respect that this is just the start of the consultation process but have registered our strong interest in the site should it become available."

The school is due to open in September 2014 in temporary premises, which have not yet been confirmed.

" Local parents have enthusiastically supported the Fulham Boys proposal and we would like to help them find a site," says Cllr Cooney, " but nothing will be agreed until there has been detailed consultation with local people. The plan is very much a response to local families' school preferences and we would urge everyone to get involved in the consultation."

The campaigners are asking local people to make their voices heard by completing the online questionnaire and attending public meetings being held at New King's School on Thursday September 5 at 6.30pm and Sulivan School on Tuesday September 10 at 6pm.

The detailed consultation document and the online response form is here on the council website: www.lbhf.gov.uk/fulhamschools.