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Barnet free school Archer Academy gets green light from Department for Education

PUBLISHED: 12:28 13 July 2012 | UPDATED: 20:46 16 July 2012

Sarah Cohen & Avis Johns during their  campaign to get a new co-ed, secular school in East Finchley pictured outside Hendon Town Hall

Sarah Cohen & Avis Johns during their campaign to get a new co-ed, secular school in East Finchley pictured outside Hendon Town Hall

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

There were tears and hugs at an East Finchley primary school this morning as campaigners and parents found out their long struggle for a free school has ended in victory.

Campaign group Local Schools for Local Children have spent the last week anxiously waiting to find out whether The Archer Academy would get the go-ahead from the Department for Education (DfE).

The group started campaigning 18 months ago for a co-educational, non-selective, non-denominational school for children in Golders Green, East Finchley and Finchley Central.

After unsuccessfully approaching Barnet Council about opening such a school in one of these areas, they decided to apply to open a brand new school under the government’s Free Schools initiative.

Elated group spokesperson Avis Johns, of Heathview, said: “I’m speechless with delight at the news from the DfE.

“It’s a fantastic result, which is the culmination of a great deal of hard work, not just from the core members of our team but also from the wider community who have supported us all the way.

“When we set out on this process we knew there was a real need for a new school for our area, but we were nonetheless surprised by the strength of feeling amongst local parents - over 1,000 of whom have said they would be happy to send their children to The Archer Academy.

“We’re just so pleased to have good news for them today (Friday, July 13).”

Mike Freer, MP for Golders Green and Finchley, who has supported the campaign, said: “I am delighted that The Archer Academy has been approved and that the ambition of local parents to establish a new outstanding school for the area has been recognised.

“I will continue to do all I can to support this fantastic initiative and help bring the vision to fruition.”

Cllr Alison Moore, leader of the opposition Labour group on Barnet Council, said: “There has been a long standing and increasingly acute shortage of secondary school places in and around East Finchley.

“The parents behind The Archer Academy have taken this challenge head-on and worked tirelessly to put together an inspiring proposal. I am proud to support that vision.”

The school is scheduled to open in September 2013.

The group will now embark on the hard work ahead to find suitable premises and appoint a headteacher

“Now we’ve got the thumbs up, we’ll crack on with our plans and will keep our supporters posted at every step of the way,” said Ms Johns.

The team are holding a public meeting on the decision and next steps at Brookland Junior School Hall on Monday, July 16.

To get involved or find out more, email info@thearcheracademy.org.uk.

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