Advance Group led by Wandsworth councillor Russell King plan new free school primary in Pollards Hill

Wimbledon Guardian: The Advance Group's founder is Wandsworth's head of strategic planning policy, Councillor Russell King The Advance Group's founder is Wandsworth's head of strategic planning policy, Councillor Russell King

A senior Wandsworth councillor is spearheading plans to build Merton's first free school in Mitcham.

The Advance Group, led by Councillor Russell King, cabinet member for strategic planning in Wandsworth, have applied to set up a free school in Pollards Hill to provide a new three form entry primary school for children aged four to 11.

While the proposed location has not yet been confirmed the group are looking at a site on Commonside East on the corner of Windmill Lane.

The school, planned to open in 2015, will be the group’s second school which is set to open the Advance School in Norbury in September 2014.

The project has already won support from The New Schools Network (NSN) which works to provide tailored support for groups looking to set up free schools.

The group will now work toward submitting an application to the Department for Education in early January in order to get permission to progress with the plans.

Russell King, a former business analyst and teacher and lead founder of the Advance Trust, said: "We are delighted to have received NSN’s support for the second school in our trust and look forward to hearing from as many local people as possible to incorporate their thoughts and ideas for Advance Pollards Hill."

Natalie Evans, NSN’s director said: "The Development Programme has been designed to help support each group in making their vision a reality, and I am delighted to be welcoming Advance Pollards Hill onto the programme.

"We look forward to working with them as they develop their plans in more detail and work with their local community to gather support for their proposed new school."

The group are expected to hear if their bid has been approved in May 2014.

If successful it will be Merton's first free school within the borough's borders.

Free schools are state funded but not under the control of the local authority or bound by the national curriculum.  

Other free schools include Mosaic Primary which opened in Southfields in September 2013 while Chapel Street, a charity based in Morden, has plans to open a free school in the Motspur Park area in September 2014.

Comments (3)

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9:15am Tue 3 Dec 13

janee says...

I would be more impressed if the 3 Wandsworth Councillors involved in this project put more of their efforts into supporting Wandsworth schools, rather than adding to the privatisation and fragmentation of Croydon's. We have already seen that allowing people to have state funding to set up untried school projects is not a success. Compared to community schools, "free" schools are very expensive and have a far greater risk of failure. Combined with their lack of popularity (as evidenced by the huge percentage of empty places) "free" schools are a disaster happening now.
I would be more impressed if the 3 Wandsworth Councillors involved in this project put more of their efforts into supporting Wandsworth schools, rather than adding to the privatisation and fragmentation of Croydon's. We have already seen that allowing people to have state funding to set up untried school projects is not a success. Compared to community schools, "free" schools are very expensive and have a far greater risk of failure. Combined with their lack of popularity (as evidenced by the huge percentage of empty places) "free" schools are a disaster happening now. janee

9:41am Tue 3 Dec 13

janee says...

Apologies, Croydon should read Merton.
Apologies, Croydon should read Merton. janee

10:38am Wed 4 Dec 13

tamworth says...

I am concerned to read that some Wandsworth Councillors are planning a free school in Merton close to the border with Croydon. The site mentioned in the article is close to narrow roads (Windmill Road and Commonside East) the latter is already very congestion because of the overspill of cars from the new development on the edge of the common which replaced the creamery.
Surely Wandsworth Councillors should concentrate on their own borough's needs and not spread their wings to Norbury (Croydon) and now Merton
I am concerned to read that some Wandsworth Councillors are planning a free school in Merton close to the border with Croydon. The site mentioned in the article is close to narrow roads (Windmill Road and Commonside East) the latter is already very congestion because of the overspill of cars from the new development on the edge of the common which replaced the creamery. Surely Wandsworth Councillors should concentrate on their own borough's needs and not spread their wings to Norbury (Croydon) and now Merton tamworth

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