Camden Council ‘in denial’ about need for new West Hampstead school, say campaigners

Dr Clare Craig is calling on Camden Council to support her group's bid for a new school in West Hamp

Dr Clare Craig is calling on Camden Council to support her group's bid for a new school in West Hampstead. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Parents have called on Camden Council to support their bid for a new free school rather than denying the need for more secondary places in West Hampstead.

Mother-of-four Dr Clare Craig, 38, wants to gain support for a co-educational school to deal with a “black hole” in education in NW6.

Many families say they have to look outside the borough to educate their children or send them to private schools because of the shortage.

Last Thursday, Dr Craig, of Fortune Green Road, Fortune Green, outlined her proposal for a new school to the council’s schools scrutiny committee.

But the pathologist believes she failed to convince Camden cabinet member for children, Cllr Angela Mason, and education officers of the need for a new school, which could be built on a site near the West End Lane rail interchange.

At the meeting, Dr Craig, co-founder of the NW6 School campaign, was advised that a new school was not needed as West Hampstead children were already eligible for several Camden schools. These include UCL Academy, Parliament Hill, William Ellis and Hampstead School.

But Dr Craig said this was untrue as all of the NW6 postcode, except for a small part of Swiss Cottage, fell outside the catchment area for UCL Academy, Parliament Hill and William Ellis in 2012.

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She said: “The council is in denial that children in our area don’t get into these schools. We want to have Camden’s support.

“It would be nice to have their help rather than a campaign of obstruction, which is what happened with the proposed secondary school south of Euston Road.”

She said that while a large proportion of West Hampstead children are eligible for Hampstead School, in Westbere Road, Cricklewood, there are still a number of children in Kilburn ward who are outside the catchment area for the school.

“I think they have basically rebuffed us,” said Dr Craig. “If the council felt there was a need for more secondary places, then they would be under obligation to provide that. They are saying that’s not the case.”

Campaigners need up to 500 parents, with children aged seven to nine, to sign a petition calling for a new free school in West Hampstead for the Department for Education to consider the proposals.

Cllr Mason said: “As a council we feel we have sufficient capacity in our secondary schools for the next planning period up to 2022/23.

“We don’t have set catchment areas. There may be a certain cut-off in terms of distance for pupils, but this can vary from time to time.

“We believe that there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about the availability of good secondary school places for parents in the NW6 area.”

For more information on the campaign visit