Parents vow to continue fight for West Hampstead free school after bid rejected

Shay Thripp, Naomi Landau, Cristina Bruno and Clare Craig submit the free school application to the

Shay Thripp, Naomi Landau, Cristina Bruno and Clare Craig submit the free school application to the Department of Education in May - Credit: Archant

Parents have vowed to continue fighting for a new free school in West Hampstead after their bid was rejected by the Department of Education.

An application for the West Hampstead International School (WHIS) was submitted to the government in May, along with a 2,000-strong petition signed by parents of young children.

The proposal to open the joint primary and secondary school in September 2015 was turned down last week but campaigners are determined not to give up.

They told the Ham&High that they plan to enter another application next May to open the following year in September 2016.

Dr Clare Craig, 39, who leads the WHIS campaign, said: “We were all disappointed but there’s no way we are just throwing it all away after coming this far.

“The real slog was getting support from people and drawing up the proposal for a school, and that’s all been done,” the mother-of-four, of Fortune Green Road, West Hampstead, added.

“There’s no way we would go back now.”

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WHIS intends to specialise in languages and music, and would introduce Spanish at primary school level and Latin from ages 11 and up.

It would also form links with other schools from around the world.

The school’s curriculum was designed with the help of prestigious state schools in Hertfordshire, including Dame Alice Owen’s, Watford Boys’ Grammar and Watford Girls’ Grammar.

The Department of Education has advised the campaigners to hire two headteachers to sit on the school’s governing body in order to win approval.

“It does seem a lot to ask for,” hospital consultant Dr Craig said. “But it is achievable.

“We’ve done the work, really it’s just getting that extra level of oversight and the government will be happy.”

The group is now looking to become part of an academy chain, which they hope will give them the necessary clout for their next application.