LocatED, a private company set up by the Department for Education in July 2016 to produce new sites for new free schools, has named its first project: the GEMS Kingston primary academy in south London.

The school is to be designed by Architecture Initiative and will be run by the GEMS Learning Trust, which currently has two other primary schools in Twickenham and Didcot.

LocatED was established last year with a £2 billion warchest to help see through the government’s commitment to new school places by securing sites to deliver the additional 110 free schools that were announced in the March budget.

The designers have been involved with a range of projects across the residential and education sectors, including the Fulham Boys School and Kingston Community School.

This new flagship academy project will be a two-form entry primary with the capacity for 420 pupils and 11 residential units in the town centre of Kingston.

Jodie Croft, the chief executive of the GEMS Learning Trust, said the group was pleased to have secured the planning permission needed for the site, which “straddles two conservation areas.”

“Tendering for the [construction] contractor starts now and the school will be ready to open in September 2019 with two classes in reception,” she added.

LocatedEd took over the responsibility from the Education Funding Agency of acquiring and developing land for new schools – including free schools and university technology colleges.

Problems with developing sites for new schools have caused considerable delays for the government in the past.

Last year a proposed free school in north London was cancelled over planning issues, despite two years of delays and £1.9 million already sunk into the project.

Hundreds of other new schools have faced delays or long waits in temporary accommodation due to difficulties with securing sites.

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    • Mark Watson

      Misleading at best.
      The guidelines set out clearly that they “should always be applied flexibly in light of the particular circumstances”.
      Looking at your article you seem to have based your position on the outdoor educational space being less than the 1,800m2 recommended in the guidance. What you have skated over is that this recommendation is the same whether the school is in Central London or the middle of the countryside. Whilst it would obviously be good for every school to have this level of external grounds, surely everyone must realise how much harder (and more expensive) it would be to provide this land in ludicrously expensive and built up areas like London.
      Why not go onto Google Maps, type in KT1 1LQ, go to satellite view, and you tell me where you would find 1,500m2 of open grounds for the school to use.

  1. Ros Lucas

    If only the DfE had to work on the preparation, planning, presentation of proposals and own ideas of building plans and kocation, they might have thought about this aspect of delivering new schools before all then hard work is then ‘filed’ and momentum lost because once again we have people in positions of autonomy why have little idea how tomproject manage and follow through really good proposals to the end!

    • Perhaps the answer is to let local authorities commission new schools when they’ve identified a need rather than the DfE accepting proposals for new free schools when the idea can’t be carried through because there’s no site.
      LAs who identify a need have to provide a site and contribute to capital costs. Free schools, on the other hand, don’t have to show there’s a need for new places (although it helps their proposal if there is) but have to wait for ESFA (or rather LocatED) to find them a site which may, or may not, be where the proposers wanted it to be. And building guidelines can be ignored as I state above which means the new free school doesn’t meet the building standards which are felt to be necessary and are present in most other schools.