Mossbourne Academy has been granted permission to open a new academy in Hackney.
The Government, this week, approved the plans following a request from the Mayor of Hackney to support an expansion of the academy’s successful provision.
The new school, which is yet to be named, is due to open in September 2014 and will be based in Victoria Park, Hackney. It will cater to 800 pupils – 200 of whom will be sixth-formers and it will have four classes in each year group. It will be established on the site of Cardinal Pole Lower School, which will itself be re-located.
The new comprehensive will be run by Mossbourne Trust, which oversees Mossbourne Academy.
The Learning Trust, the body which runs education services in Hackney, organized a public consultation over the summer, encouraging Hackney residents to offer their views on a new school in the borough.
According to the Hackney Citizen, when asked whether a new school for the area should be a free school or an academy, 69% voted for the academy option; only 10% of respondents were in favour of a free school, whilst 21% stated no preference. But many residents felt there was one option that was missing: another local authority school.
For the past two years, governors, parents and local councillors from many South Hackney primary schools, have argued their children are badly served by existing provision.
A group of local residents called the Hackney Residents for Comprehensive Education (HRCE) has drawn up a petition calling on the Learning Trust, to disregard the results of this summer’s consultation. Their campaign, Save Our State Schools, demands a re-run of the consultation so that parents can be given the option of selecting a state school.
The government, however, will not allow new state comprehensives to open – a major set-back for campaigners.
“The Department for Education has clearly identified academies and free schools as the only funded options for new schools”, a Learning Trust spokesperson told the Hackney Citizen. “Given this, we have consulted on these two options.”
The spread of academies and free schools continues, despite this local opposition.
Penny Wrout, one of the parents from the four South Hackney primary schools who have been campaigning for an additional secondary school in the area says, “We’re delighted the government has found the money, in tough times, to make the best use of an historic site in the area and to revamp it as a new, non-denominational, mixed-sex school.”
“A local consultation showed there was no appetite for a free-school, and we think a Mossbourne-led academy is the best we could hope for in the current political circumstances.”
“Not everyone is a fan of the Mossbourne approach to education, but the fact is that simply by providing extra secondary places in the borough, there will be an increased chance of everyone being allocated a school of their choice.”
“I think local parents would particularly like to thank Geoff Taylor and Katie Hanson, two of the local councillors, who have fought really hard for this, and the Learning Trust for their perseverance with central government.”
Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney, says, “We will begin immediately the work with Mossbourne and the Department to support the expansion of their academy by four forms of entry in South Hackney. They have demonstrated how effective their model is and how well pupils can do.”
Education Secretary Michael Gove says, “Mossbourne Academy’s achievements are extraordinary. Mossbourne demonstrates that any school, whatever the background of pupils, can achieve exceptional results and help students go to the best universities in the world.”
“Thanks to the dedication and talent of the sponsor, principal and teachers, the fortunes of thousands of children in one of the poorest parts of London have been transformed.”
Sir Michael Wilshaw, Principal of Mossbourne Academy is “delighted and proud” about the news.