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private firms battle for right to build new school

PUBLISHED: 12:02 31 January 2007 | UPDATED: 14:25 07 September 2010

By Marijke Peters PRIVATE companies are going head to head with Haringey Council over proposals for a new secondary school. Three organisations have submitted applications for the multi-million pound project in Haringey s heartlands near Ally Pally. The b

By Marijke Peters

PRIVATE companies are going head to head with Haringey Council over proposals for a new secondary school.

Three organisations have submitted applications for the multi-million pound project in Haringey's heartlands near Ally Pally.

The borough is the first in the country to run a competition for a new school in line with the 2005 Education Act.

Although Haringey has also put forward its own bid, it is feared the council will lose out to commercial competitors.

Public consultation showed the council's plan for a community school is hugely popular. But if it fails to win, the school could become a government-run academy outside the council's direct control.

Tony Brockman, from Haringey's National Union of Teachers, said: "We don't think these companies meet the tests for promoting social cohesion and some of the other schools they run are in serious difficulties.

"Their expertise is in the private sector. Haringey heartlands is an area of high social deprivation and they don't have the experience needed to deal with this - whereas Haringey Council has been doing it for years."

Both the United Learning Trust (ULT) and Haberdashers' Aske's Federation have proposed to build academy schools. ULT is the company behind the new Paddington Academy whose building project is massively behind schedule. Its plans for Haringey are for a "non-selective community school welcoming those of all faiths and none."

Although it would follow the national curriculum, the academy would specialise in the arts and media and would offer its resources to partner institutions.

Haberdashers' Aske's wants to create three new schools on the same site, for children aged three to 18, absorbing Alexandra primary school. Students aged 11 to 16 would be separated by sex and there would be a special focus on music.

The final private proposal is from the Centre for British Teachers Education Trust, which wants to build a foundation school. The CfBT said: "An essential characteristic will be the creation of three small schools within the one organisation, sharing the same campus. The third school would be the integrated resource for young people with Autistic spectrum disorders."

Haringey's education chief Cllr Liz Santry said: "Our proposal is for an inclusive community comprehensive school offering high quality education to students from all the borough's different communities. It is a sound proposal and we will argue for it very strongly."

The final decision will be made by the Schools Organisation Committee, which must make a unanimous choice.

Mr Brockman said: "I think it shows extreme arrogance for these companies to come in and say they want to build a school after the local community has already said it wants the community school suggested by Haringey Council.

"Another academy is the last thing Haringey needs and we will be using all our resources to campaign to prevent one being set up."

marijke.peters@hamhigh.co.uk

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