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Abacus School: Moving school to Hampstead would 'threaten' primary schools, say governors at nearby schools

PUBLISHED: 14:02 09 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:37 09 July 2019

The former Hampstead Police Station, in Rosslyn Hill, which Abacus Belsize Primary School want to turn into a school. Picture: Harry Taylor

The former Hampstead Police Station, in Rosslyn Hill, which Abacus Belsize Primary School want to turn into a school. Picture: Harry Taylor

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The chair of governors at Fleet Primary School has said "no reasonable person" would choose to spend £21.5million on opening Abacus Belsize Primary School.

Kim Issroff presents the deputation on behalf of her and five other governors at Camden primary schools about Abacus Belsize free school. Picture: Harry TaylorKim Issroff presents the deputation on behalf of her and five other governors at Camden primary schools about Abacus Belsize free school. Picture: Harry Taylor

Kim Issroff, who was presenting a deputation backed by chairs of governors from five other Camden primary schools, told Camden's full council meeting that moving the free school to Rosslyn Hill threatens the "status quo" of other primary schools in Camden. She said the money would be better directed towards special educational needs pupils or knife crime.

The representation comes as Abacus is trying to move into the former Hampstead Police Station. Its initial attempt was rejected by the council in 2016. If approved, the new site will house up to 210-pupils. It is currently based in Camley Street.

Ms Issroff said that she was concerned about the impact on nearby schools in light of falling school rolls across the borough.

She asked Angela Mason, Camden's education chief to "do everything [you] can to ensure that all Camden schools are inclusive...and that take strong action to mitigate the potential negative impacts that Abacus School will have other schools."

Alison Kelly (Lab, Haverstock) also highlighted the "huge" fall in school rolls and said Abacus could put other Camden schools at risk.

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She said: "Abacus feels to many of us like a very expensive solution to a issue which no longer exists. It could be an outrageous misuse of public money."

However Belsize councillor Tom Simon (Lib Dem) defended the school, saying it was "wide of the mark" to blame the Abacus itself.

"The figures suggest that even if you eliminate it overnight, it would only make a small dent on the problem."

Angela Mason (Lab, Cantelowes) said she had "considerable sympathy" with Ms Issroff.

She said: "It's an example of the free school policy coming home to roost and the contradictions of that policy. We have limited control in this situation.

"It was illogical for Boris {Johnson] to have sold it off the police station to the [Department for Education] and declared it's suitable for a school. It's simply not on all sorts of grounds.

She added that she was concerned about falling school rolls, a "crisis" in funding in schools, and that the school isn't in Belsize ward.

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