The education of local children with special educational needs is taking second place to H&F Tory council's ideological passion for a “free” school that will take half its children from outside the borough.
Today, prime toads Toby Young and Stephen Greenhalgh have confirmed that they are shafting the disabled children and staff at the Cambridge School, who will not be moving out of their inadequate school building into a renovated Bryony Centre as they had been promised. No, the Bryony Centre will instead be given to the West London “free” school until Palingswick House – from which all the charities are to be kicked out in August – is ready.
An excellent piece in Children & Young People Now contains a questionable “refutation” by “a spokeswoman for Hammersmith & Fulham Council”, who says:
(a) The West London Free School will help deal with a shortage of school places. No, that's what the new Hammersmith Academy, which is opening in Shepherds Bush in September 2011 with 780 places for students aged 11 to 18, will do – see details here.
(b) The “Cambridge School does not expect to move site for at least two years.” Note the weasel words “at least”. The idea was that the Bryony Centre would be adapted over the next year or two to the needs of the Cambridge School’s disabled pupils. Now, however, the lengthy adaptation work will not begin until the “free” school has moved out after two years to Palingswick House. So the Cambridge pupils' move is actually being delayed by three to four years. And what if it takes even longer to get Palingswick House ready for Toby Young's Latin scholars?
An extra piece of poison is that by being located in Bryony Centre, the “free” school will doubtless try and poach the best kids from neighbouring Phoenix High.
And then of course there is the disgusting expulsion of local charities from Palingswick House. Toby Young today claimed “My understanding is that the groups currently using the building will be found alternative accommodation by the council.” Let's hope for the sake of his eternal soul that this is an understanding based on ignorance. The truth is that the council is not guaranteeing that the charities “will” be found a new home. Instead, they are to be required to bid for space in one of two “community hubs”, with a possible third hub not being created until after the charities are kicked out in August. See here for details.
The degree of local misery this “free” school will cause is quite shameless. It will be built on tears.