Education Secretary Pledges To Help Find Home For Ealing School

Ealing Fields is due to open in September 2015

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The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has said his department will do 'everything possible' to help secure a site for a free school in Ealing.

The Ealing Fields High School, for 11-18 year olds, is due to open in September 2015, but as yet no location has been found. It's expected to be based in South Ealing.

Mr Gove was invited to meet members of the steering group by Northfields Conservative councillor, David Millican. Angie Bray, Conservative MP for Ealing Central and Acton, and Conservative Councillor Roz Reece (Ealing Common) also attended.

Mr Gove told the group that all free schools must go through a ‘rigorous’ vetting process by the Department for Education.

He said: ''A dedicated, community based, parent led team wanting to establish a secondary free school in an area with very high basic need, would be a group of people that we really would want to ensure had appropriate premises.’

The Education Secretary added:

''The original vision of free schools was driven by my belief that if you plan everything from Whitehall or from the town hall, then you run the risk of not actually appreciating where the demand is and not being sufficiently responsive to what parents and students genuniely want.
‘If you don’t have community groups, parent-led groups, then we’ll lose touch with one of the most successful routes to keeping schools close to their community and effective in what they do.’

Mr Millican, who is Ealing Council’s Conservative Group Leader, said the meeting had been hugely successful. He said: ''It was good to have the Secretary of State here to meet with the management team and to give the school a positive boost. Mr Gove could see how passionate the group is about the school.''

Dr Judith Mortell, an educational psychologist and leader of the Ealing Fields steering group, said:

''It was great to receive so much support from the Secretary of State. He highlighted the ambitious aspirations we have for every pupil in our school and the fact that we are such a high calibre group, which wants to make a real difference for our local community.''

There are currently more than 170 free schools in England which receive direct funding from the Department for Education -  independent of councils.

Labour has accused the Government of wasting money on the schools calling them 'pet political projects' and there have been reports of disagreements within the coalition about their funding.

Mr Gove has said standards were improving as a result of free schools being set up and said that there was no longer a shortage of places across England.



May 13th 2014