Opinion Former Article

NUT: Toby Young given site for Free School earmarked for special needs school

Following a meeting of the Council's Education Select Committee yesterday it has become clear that plans by Cambridge Special School in Hammersmith to be relocated have been put on hold as the Council confirmed they have promised the site to Toby Young's Free School for the next two years.

After this period the Free School expect to move into a much used and loved community centre Palingswick House.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council previously had held the position that special needs re build and re organisation under BSF were an absolute priority. The school hoped that work would start on the redevelopment of the Bryony Centre this year having significantly reworked the cancelled BSF together with the council.

Cambridge School is an outstanding special needs secondary school and has consistently been judged as excellent. The building it presently occupies is increasingly outdated and not entirely fit for purpose.

The original move was designed to locate the school next to Phoenix High School to be part of a hub of schools and children's centres serving a rather deprived community in White City. They would have shared the facilities of the newly built 6th Form at Phoenix School, the well established City Farm, as well as other teaching and learning facilities.

Staff, Governors and children were all looking forward to the move and had all put in significant work in preparing the ground for the rebuild. By allowing the West London Free School to use the premises for two years, the work to rebuild the school cannot get started and puts the move back by a substantial amount of time.

Christine Blower, General Secretary, National Union of Teachers

"In a situation where resources are tight you would think that the council would make decisions on merit. Young people with special needs have been scuppered twice. Firstly by Michael Gove's decision to scrap BSF and secondly by Toby Young seemingly jumping the queue over the heads of significantly vulnerable and needy students. Their loss is his gain. This is an outrageous decision which has nothing to do with what is in the best interest of the community but simply pandering to a vociferous minority".

END

For further details contact Caroline Cowie on 0207 380 4706 or 07879480061

Caroline Cowie
NUT Press Officer
Hamilton House, Mabledon Place,
London WC1H 9BD
0207 380 4706 or 07879480061

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