MP Blames Council for Boys School Crisis

But H&F says Michael Gove's decision was "shock"

Related links



Illustration of Gibbs Green site

Greg Hands' Statement in Full

Letter from the Department for Education

Fulham Boys School Head Responds to Deferral of Opening

Fulham Boys School "Suddenly Under Serious Threat"

The Fulham Boys School

ChristChurch Fulham

Council Agrees to Publish Proposals to Revoke Sulivan School Closure

Fulham Boys School Defers Opening Until September 2014

Fulham Boys School Appoints Alun Ebenzer as Head Teacher

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Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands has released a statement saying he is "very disappointed" that Fulham Boys School has not been given approval to open its doors in September.

His statement continues: " "I have been speaking with Ministers Michael Gove and Lord Nash before and since the decision, to help make the case for the Fulham Boys School. They have made clear to me that they feel they had little choice, given there was no guarantee, or even confidence, in finding a permanent site for the school in the short time frame available, now that the viability of the Sulivan site has been brought into question by the Council.

" Whilst I am disappointed with this decision, parents and local people should understand that it is a direct consequence of the new, Labour Council in Hammersmith & Fulham reversing policy on the merger of Sulivan and New King’s Schools, which would have provided the extra school places on the available site on Peterborough Road.

" In other words, it was the Labour Council that cancelled the availability of the new site, which the Department felt left them with no choice but to postpone the opening of the school.

" "I am confident that had there still been a Conservative council in Hammersmith & Fulham, that the school could have been built on the Peterborough Road site and opened on each of the temporary and the permanent sites in the timeframes required."

However, this statement contradicts repeated denials by the previous Tory administration that their proposed closure of Sulivan Primary School was connected with Fulham Boys School.

It also appears unclear whether attempts were made to find alternative permanent sites for the boys school should the Sulivan site in Peterborough Road not become available.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council meanwhile says that that free schools are free of local council control and the Fulham Boys School therefore came under the direct auspices of the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, the government’s secretary of state for education.

It adds that it is and has been Mr Gove’s responsibility, via the Education Funding Agency, to ensure that the school can be housed and funded.

The council says it was a "shock" to receive this letter on July 2 from the Department of Education stating that:

" Unfortunately we have not been able to secure permanent accommodation for the Fulham Boys School. Lord Nash and the Secretary of State have discussed the issue and ministers have taken the decision to defer the opening of the school to 2015 at the earliest."

It says Fulham Boys School were apparently formally told of the decision on July 1, one day before the council received the letter.

The school currently has a lease arrangement with CapCo, the owners of an empty school building in Gibbs Green, West Kensington. This lease arrangement would give the school two years to find a permanent home.

With that in mind, the government had given the free school permission earlier this year to recruit staff and pupils to open this September.

Councillor Sue Macmillan, Cabinet Member for Children and Education says: "We thoroughly disagree with this decision and will do all we can to work with the parents and boys affected.

" Free schools are free of local council responsibility but despite that I have written to the government to seek an urgent explanation for its change of heart, what efforts have been made to secure a permanent site and why they reached this decision so late in the day.

" This administration believes that free schools have an important role to play in improving the quality of local places on offer to local families and it is devastating that the opening of Fulham Boys School has been halted less than nine weeks before it was meant to open."

Greg Hands says: "  The most important thing now is to do everything we can to find a new permanent site, or to get the Council to re-consider its new proposal for the Sulivan site.

" I am hoping we can now all work together to find a site for the Fulham Boys School and deliver some real progress on finding a new, permanent site, as soon as possible for local parents."

 

July 4, 2014