Bidders invited for new £10m primary school

Davidson centre where the new primary school is proposed to be built

Parents and outside bodies are expected to be among those bidding to run a £10m new primary school in Croydon to run the school.

In a report to Croydon Council’s cabinet last week it was decided that over £10m will be allocated for the new school which is planned for the Davidson centre site in Addiscombe to cope with an increase in the school age population.

The next stage will see various parties submit their proposals for establishing a new school on the site, with the local authority likely to face competition from a range of bidders, which could include parents.

At a meeting in June to discuss the proposal to build a new primary school, Alison Critchley, director of commissioning, performance and partnerships could not dispel fears that the local authority will have to face competition from other bidders. Critchely said: “The Local Authority would need to apply to the Secretary of State for an exemption from competition, which is only granted in a limited number of circumstances.”

The creation of a “free school” would be funded in the same way as modern academies, however it would mean that control over the financing and employing of teachers would be left to those who potentially had no experience in running a school.

Sally Williams, 39, from Croydon who has just had a child said: “It is quite scary to think that anyone could be running this school, especially because there might be no other option but to send our children there.”

The borough has been under increasing pressure to find new places for primary pupils, despite 240 additional places being made available since 2008 with an increase of eight forms of entry such as Crescent Primary School in Selhurst.

Presently Croydon is having to use temporary ‘bulge’ classes to  accommodate the rise in pupils of primary age, however it is expected that this will soon become untenable.

Croydon is London’s largest borough with 54,000 children between the ages of 5-16 going to school, and plans to build 10,0000 new homes in the area have increased concerns that local education will be unable to cope.

In 2011 there was 4500 applications for primary places, up 444 from 2008. Authorities believe the impact of higher birth rate, residential growth, immigration levels and the change in ethnic diversity are the factors leading to the increase. Latest data also indicates that the level of migration out of the borough has fallen rapidly due to the effects of the recession on the buying and selling of property.

Paul Greenhalgh, executive director of children, young people and learners said: “Croydon has experienced a sharp increase in demand for reception places over the past couple of years”.

The council is now attempting to find parties interested in funding the development of the school and is accepting bids up until November.

A final decision on whether the school will be ran independently or under local authority control is expected in February or March next year

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