New free school Abacus Belsize to move into Hampstead Town Hall

Free school campaigners in Belsize have finally found a temporary site to open a school.

Abacus Belsize Primary will open in September in the Interchange Studios at Hampstead Town Hall, in Haverstock Hill.

Children will be taught on the site for the first two years while a permanent home is found.

The school will also team up with the WAC Performing Arts and Media College which operates in the same building.

Earlier this month, campaigners came face-to-face with London mayor Boris Johnson urging him to get behind their bid to house the school permanently in nearby Hampstead police station or Belsize fire station.

Retired headteacher Linda Grove, a member of the body trying to set up Abacus, put Mr Johnson on the spot following a People’s Question Time session in Stratford on December 12.

Rushing over to the mayor at the end of the session, Mrs Grove was filmed asking Mr Johnson for his support to help the school secure permanent premises, to which he replied: “I’m sure we can help you with this problem.”

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Mr Johnson has announced he is seeking to support 10 free school projects across London by making public buildings available, possibly empty police or fire stations.

Mrs Grove believes Hampstead police station or Belsize fire station would make a good permanent home for the new school should the buildings become available.

She said: “[Boris] grew up in this area and he frequents some local restaurants so I said to him, ‘I know you dine in Belsize!’ I won’t let him forget about us.”

A spokesman for the mayor said: “The mayor’s Education Inquiry showed that London needs 90,000 school places by 2016 and he believes that free schools have a crucial role in increasing the capacity, quality and diversity of provision across the capital.

“The mayor’s team are aware of the Abacus free school and its need for a building and are working with the Department for Education to help find a suitable location.”

Abacus Belsize campaigners will hold a public meeting on January 8 between 7.30pm and 8.30pm in the Interchange Studios.