Council seeks new bids for new primary school

Schoolchildren, pic: MonkeyMyshkin, flickr

Croydon Council is seeking a new sponsor to open and run a new primary school in Croydon by September 2012, after rejecting several existing bids.

The £10.1 million plans to build the new school in Woodside are intended to help relieve pressure on primary school places in the borough.

The council is working in partnership with the Department for Education (DfE) to seek a sponsor who will open an academy on the site of the former Davidson Centre.

It has rejected a number of bids, including those of Oasis Community Learning and Hindu education charity I-Foundation.

The I-Foundation, which already runs two Croydon schools and plans to open two more, collected 64,000 signatures in support of their bid. However, the council considered that it would not have the additional capacity required to manage the new school, which is intended to grow into the second biggest in Croydon.

It will open to 120 reception pupils initially, but is expected to grow to 840 pupils.

Nitesh Gor, chairman of I-Foundation, told the Croydon Advertiser he was “surprised and disappointed” by the decision.

He said: “I cannot understand the council’s rationale for turning down what was a very strong bid.

“It is crystal clear the community is crying out for an I-Foundation school, but the council are just not listening.”

A spokesperson for Oasis Community Learning said: “The council have employed us to work on several other schools in Croydon, but on this occasion we didn’t meet their requirements. We have a very positive relationship with the council and don’t see that changing.”

Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, young people and learners, said: “While our confidence in both bidders remains, there were concerns about their capacity at this point in time to deliver our requirements for the proposed school, which would be large compared to most primary schools.”

There are over 54,000 children aged 5-16 in Croydon, and the borough has experienced a major increase in reception-age pupils entering its schools. In 2011 schools received over 300 more on-time applications than in the previous year.

The council says the increase is due to a combination of factors, including higher birth rates, population growth and increased levels of immigration.

Planning permission is due to be considered on 16 March, after which the plans will be discussed at a public meeting.

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