|MP Blames Council for Boys School Crisis|
But H&F says Michael Gove's decision was "shock"
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.
" 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.
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