The sponsor of Floreat Brentford Primary School, a free school in west London, has announced plans to close the school, citing problems with temporary buildings and “critically low” funding levels.
Floreat Education, the academy trust founded by the health minister and former David Cameron adviser Lord O’Shaughnessy, has today announced that it has put in a request with the Department for Education to close the free school by mutual consent, and that the department has agreed in principle to its request.
The school opened in 2015 but has struggled to flourish on its temporary site, leading to financial problems.
Although the trust said the school is performing “superbly”, “untenable challenges” around the temporary site the school occupies, and a failure to find a permanent site, have proved “insurmountable”, a spokesperson said.
“The school is currently housed in two separate units, sitting under high-rise blocks at opposite ends of a retail parade and opening onto a busy public highway.
“Our pupils, who are aged 4 to 7 years, move between the units throughout the day. There is no outside space and so the children take a walk of up to ten minutes each way to spend playtime and PE lessons in a local park.
“This is clearly not sustainable and was only ever intended to be short term. Despite tireless efforts to secure a permanent site, the build programme has been beset with delays and is still not confirmed.”
The trust said the schools “should be a burgeoning two-form entry school by now”, but with space restricting the school to just three class groups, “funding levels are critically low, making it increasingly challenging to provide a safe school and the quality of education that is our hallmark”.
“We are working closely with the Department for Education and Hounslow Council to ensure that families get the advice and support they need.”
According to Floreat, the DfE will now open a four week consultation period, during which parents who wanted to send their children to Floreat Brentford in September this year will be allowed to state another preference.
Floreat claims its remaining schools, Floreat Wandsworth and Floreat Montague Park, are unaffected, and that plans to open Floreat Silver Meadow in West Wokingham, will also go ahead as planned this September.
The chain is currently in the process of considering a merger with another chain, the Avanti Schools Trust.
More to follow.