New free schools and academies prove hugely popular
Friday March 1, 2013
According to figures released today, West London Free School is the most popular school in Hammersmith & Fulham, with 1,179 applications for places this September, of which 296 were first preference applications.
The Catholic boys’ school, London Oratory, retains its popularity with 793 applications (293 first preferences,) with two academies, Burlington Danes and Hammersmith Academy receiving 778 and 714 applications respectively.
Sacred Heart Girls’ School received 314 first preference applications, more than any other school, and received 675 applications overall.
“These latest figures for applications to our schools show that our newest schools are proving extremely popular with local families and that our Schools of Choice strategy to expand the options for H&F parents, is working,” says Cllr Helen Binmore, Cabinet Member for children’s services. “Standards in all our schools are increasing dramatically and they continue to go from strength to strength. Our new free schools and academies have added new choices, without undermining other local schools. Instead they are encouraging families to opt for local state schools rather than choosing schools outside the borough or independent schools.”
The number of applications for secondary school places rose by 216 on last year, to 5,860. The proportion of students getting into their top choice school rose to 56.7% from 54.5% last year and the number securing a place in one of their top three choices rose to 81% from 78% last year.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council launched its Schools of Choice strategy in 2006 is response to high numbers of families either moving out of the borough when their children reached secondary school age or choosing schools in the private sector or in other boroughs. In 2006, only 38% of local children went to local state schools.
That number is now well over 60%, although the final figure for this year will not be known until families decide whether to take up the offers they have received.
Part of the strategy included encouraging free schools and new academies into the borough, a move that some critics suggested would exclude local people from less affluent backgrounds, or de-stabilse other schools.
"It is now clear that the significant extension in the range of options now available has been hugely popular with parents and has helped drive up school standards across the board,” adds Cllr Binmore. “The West London Free School came under particular attack in its early days, but it is now clear that it takes a large proportion of local families including many children from less affluent backgrounds and it is performing extremely well.”