Mayor frees up public land and buildings to deliver 11 new schools
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today announced that he has freed up public land and property to speed up the delivery of 11 schools in the capital, providing places for around 7,300 pupils, nine of which will be free schools.
The announcement, during a visit to a new free school the Kingfisher Hall Primary Academy in Enfield, follows the Mayor's manifesto commitment in 2012 to use public assets to secure sites for ten free schools. As London's population grows, there is increasing pressure on school places – 90,000 more are needed by 2016. The Mayor is working with the Department for Education, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the capital's boroughs to ensure London can meet this challenge.
The new schools will be developed in former police stations, on Greater London Authority-owned land and in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The Mayor has facilitated the acquisition of the sites by providing advice and help, including on planning issues. They include seven primary schools, three teaching at secondary level and one all through school. Nine will be free schools, one a new University Technical College and one a new Academy. Seven sites are located in boroughs ranked in the top ten most deprived in England.
Free schools have become a key element in the provision of much-needed school places, with London having the highest number in the country - 58 out of a national total of 174. These latest schools follow the Mayor authorising the East London Science School to be provided with temporary accommodation at Three Mills in Bromley-by-Bow, whilst it looks for a permanent home.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'I am determined to use all the resources available to me to enable more schools to be built across the capital. Free schools are now firmly established as part of the mix for the provision of urgently needed places and we're making good progress, matching 11 under-used public sites with groups wanting to set up new schools. 7,300 more places have now been secured for young Londoners, the majority at free schools set up in response to local demand.
'This is all part of my goal to ensure London schoolchildren have the best possible education regardless of their background and that we are equipping youngsters in our growing city to compete at a global level.'
The Mayor has put education at the heart of his plans to ensure remains competitive internationally, including setting up a dedicated free schools unit and investing £24 million to raise standards in teaching. He launched the London Schools Atlas last year, an online resource providing detailed information on future demand for school places, and has amended the London Plan – the capital's spatial development plan – to place greater emphasis on the importance of new school provision in areas of need.
Michael Gove MP, The Secretary of State for Education, said: 'I would like to thank Boris for being such an energetic champion of education reform. I am delighted that 11 new schools will be opening in London, providing around 7,000 school places.
'Many of these will be free schools, which put teachers - not bureaucrats and politicians - in the driving seat, as they are the ones who know their pupils best. Free schools are already providing children from all backgrounds the sort of education previously reserved for the few.
'A key part of our long term economic plan is delivering the best schools and skills for our children, and free schools are doing exactly that.'
Charlie Kennard, Principal of East London Arts & Music (ELAM), which will be built at a site in Twelvetrees Crescent, Bromley-by-Bow, said: 'We are delighted that our permanent home will be in Bromley-by-Bow, at the very heart of East London. For a long time it has been evident that many creative young people miss their calling due to a lack of industry opportunities, low-level recognition of their talents and a failure to develop sector relevant skills. Here at ELAM we do not believe that circumstance should ever be a barrier to any young person¹s ability to realise their potential. Building our new site in Tower Hamlets will allow us access those young people of East London and give them a place where we can create a truly world-class experience for our learners.'
Sarah Counter, Executive Principal, Canary Wharf College, said: 'It’s been wonderful to have the support of the Mayor in helping us acquire land for our second college. We look forward to working with him closely in the future as we further expand the outstanding education given at Canary Wharf College to meet the desperate shortage of places in Tower Hamlets.'