Ealing Fields School Won't Open This Year
Major blow for local parents as plans suffer setback
A new Ealing High School will not be opening in September - as had been expected - causing huge disappointment to many local parents and children.
Ealing Fields High School was due to take its first intake this year and in July last year had reportedly been close to unveiling its location - but the funding wing of the DfE (Education Funding Agency (EFA)) could not complete negotiations over the preferred site in south Ealing.
The Department for Education has now deferred the free school’s opening until September 2016.
Dr Judith Mortell, leader of the steering group, described the news as ‘devastating’ for parents but said ‘we did everything within our power to avoid it’.
She said: ‘We have completed all the required aspects of opening that were in our control and we pushed the EFA as hard as we could regarding site acquisition.
‘Whilst negotiations remain at a tantalisingly close stage, there is no longer sufficient time to complete the deal and undertake the necessary work that would be required to create an appropriate learning environment in which to welcome our first cohort of students this September.
‘We do not underestimate how disappointing and potentially problematic this will be for some families and we would like to reassure them that we have done everything that is within our control to facilitate opening this year.’
Dr Mortell said that parents’ applications to other high schools had not been affected by the DfE’s decision.
She said: ‘We have worked closely with the Local Authority. In line with their normal admissions procedures, the council has made sure that families will be offered a place at the school they would have been offered, had they not applied to Ealing Fields High School.
‘From my point of view, every minute we spent working on this was worthwhile in order to try and make EFHS an option for this year’s Year 6s.
‘However, I do realise that this will be of little comfort to the many parents and carers who will be hugely disappointed.’
Addressing parents, she added: ‘Whilst we press ahead with all urgency for opening in September 2016 we would like to wish you and your children all the best with their transfer to secondary school.
‘We would also like to express our sincere appreciation for the continued support and the confidence you have shown in our school.’
Ealing Fields High School executive headteacher, Dr Mark Fenton, and headteacher, Lee Faith, remain in post for opening September 2016.
Mr Faith said: ‘The decision to defer our opening is of course, deeply disappointing for all stakeholders in our community - from Year 6 children and their parents/carers, to the members of the Trust who have worked tirelessly to ensure we would open in September.
‘My job now is to keep working hard to maintain the high levels of support we enjoy from the community and to make sure that we can deliver our educational vision for young people in south Ealing in 2016.’
Dr Fenton added: ‘This news is a major blow to families in south Ealing.
‘However, our commitment to opening a top quality secondary school in the area is undimmed. In the face of this disappointment we will redouble our efforts to make sure that there is no repeat next year.’
Ealing Fields High School will be holding drop-in sessions over the coming months to update parents about progress towards opening in 2016. Dates and venues have yet to be announced.
Nearly 15% of those who applied for a secondary school place in Ealing didn't get one of their top three choices this year. Parents in W5 who're angry about the allocation system have set up a Facebook Group ( Ealing Parents Fighting For Fair School Placements)
They say: ''This group is for parents of children who have been given an offer of a high school which is unacceptable, due to location etc. I'm sure that's it's not just us Villiers lot that have been affected by Ealing Councils lack of caring that our children be given a decent school place in the community that we live in.''
Ealing Council say 85.5% of children have been allocated a school place from their top three.
5th March 2015