Fulham parents propose new ‘free’ school for boys
Tuesday February 15, 2011
A group of parents in Fulham is asking local families to back plans to set up a Church of England free secondary school for boys in the south of the borough.
They have presented their proposals to the Secretary of State for Education, and are waiting to hear if their plans will get Government backing. If they are given the support they need, the parent-sponsored secondary school could open in September 2012. It is likely to admit a proportion of children from CofE families and a proportion of children from any other background. Its intake would be comprehensive, with three or four forms of entry per year and a sixth form.
Local parent Jonny Ambrose of Vera Road, Fulham is one of the sponsors. He is asking anyone who wants to contribute to the proposal to get in touch and says there is already a great deal of interest from local parents in setting up a comprehensive boys’ schools with strong Christian values. “The choice is very limited for parents of boys who want a Christian education,” he says. “Lady Margaret school does a great job for girls, but there are many families who are frustrated at the lack of places for boys in a faith school with traditional educational values.”
The parents’ group includes families who currently have children in local state primary schools, many of whom feel they would otherwise have to turn to schools outside the borough or, for the very few who can afford it, to the independent sector, to find the places they want for their children. Currently only 44% of 11-year-olds living in the borough go to local state secondary schools.
“Our vision is to create a fully inclusive school that will appeal to parents who want single-sex education for their boys,” Jonny adds. “We want a school that is very much part of the community, a school that shares its facilities with other local community groups and which enables parents to contribute their time and expertise to their children’s education. Why should Fulham secondary school boys have to spend so much time travelling outside the borough when they could spend this time doing extra-curricular activities such as sport, music, art and drama?”
"We are keen to hear from parents who want to get involved in their children’s education and to help with a wide range of extra-curricular activities."
Sophia Wade of Felden Street, Fulham has three primary-age boys and is also part of the parents’ group. She says the free school proposal offers a choice that is badly needed. “We've been hugely encouraged by people's initial response to our proposal as it's clear that for a large number of Fulham families, there simply isn't a local school that ticks all the right boxes. We've now got a unique opportunity to get this right, and we're determined to create a school that meets both our children’s and our community's needs. There's still a long way to go, however, and we'd love to hear from anyone who hasn't yet given us their views or who wants to help make our vision a reality."
The parents’ group has the backing of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, which is already supporting the development of three other ‘free’ schools in the borough. “It is undeniable that parents would like more local choice," says Councillor Helen Binmore, cabinet member for Children’s Services. "Free schools enable parents to contribute to our goal of having good local schools which local parents wish to choose for their children and we will support their efforts in any way we can.”