Saturday, 11 September 2010

Hackney Free School - will it add £20k to your house price?

An architect is waiting to hear if her plan to set up a Free School in Hackney will be approved by the Department for Education.

Pascale Scheurer argues her case for the school in this piece in

Her opening sentence suggests she's talking to property owners: "A popular school can add £15,000-20,000 to house prices within its catchment area. So whether you have children of school age or not, may I suggest you keep a close eye on the free schools debate over the coming year."

But the real reason for her project seems to be that: "There is an “outstanding” school round the corner with the creative ethos I want but, thanks to the idiocy of the admissions process, my girls are more likely to end up in a sink school further away."

Her plan is to set up the "Hackney Free School for Creative Entrepreneurship". On her twitter page she says she's still awaiting approval and adds: "Just had great mtg with Hackney Learning Trust. Very supportive of Free School, very helpful."

She provides more details about the Hackney bid here: "In the spirit of 'augmenting the state sector', and taking on board the various concerns over Free Schools, we have contacted the LEA and other local schools, and local MP and councillors (Labour and LibDem). Heated debates as you can imagine, but everyone agrees there is a severe shortage of places and the same issues around faith and single-sex schools abound. I believe it is possible for Free and 'wholly State' schools to work together for mutual benefit, if that is set out as part of the initial core objectives. We are also getting advice from the Head of a Camden community secondary school who we've worked with for two years. Some parents who have been in touch with us live in Camden. It may be of use to share details with you at some point."

I couldn't find any more details about the project and it may well be old news. Pascale will be hoping to hear from the Department for Education and get a letter like the one received by parents setting up a free school in Acton, described here by Toby Young in the Telegraph. But I don't know how large Pascale's school will be.

And I don't know which Hackney MP she is having to deal with. Diane Abbott didn't support academies until they were successful. She also seems particularly wary of middle-class white parents. In a 2006 NASUWT-sponsored paper (Academy schools: case unproven) Diane said: "... We know what parent power means in London. In practice, it means giving power to small groups of white middle-class parents..."

And Pascale's support from the Learning Trust is no guarantee of support from Hackney's biggest beast Jules Pipe (Learning Trust still disgusting... )

And then how keen will a Conservative government be to help out Hackney? And has Michael Gove dropped in for that cup of tea at Woodberry Down yet? Like he said he would.)

The 16 proposals so far accepted (from the BBC) :

Bedford and Kempston Free School, Bedford
The Childcare Company, Slough
Discovery New School, West Sussex
The Free School Norwich, Norfolk
Haringey Jewish Primary School, Haringey
I-Foundation Primary School, Leicester (Hindu)
King's Science Academy, Bradford
Mill Hill Jewish Primary School, Barnet
Nishkam Education Trust, Birmingham (Sikh)
North Westminster Free School (ARK), Westminster (ARK is an existing academy sponsor)
Priors Marston and Priors Hardwick School, Warwickshire
Rivendale Free School, Hammersmith and Fulham
St. Luke's School, Camden (Anglican)
Stour Valley Community School, Suffolk
West London Free School, Ealing or Hammersmith and Fulham
Wormholt North Hammersmith Free School (ARK), Hammersmith and Fulham (to be known as Burlington Primary Academy)
You can follow the progress of Hackney Free School for Creative Entrepreneurship on LinkedIn (search for “Free Schools Resource Group”).

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