Plans for Marylebone-based free school to be submitted by parents

The ‘West End Extra’ reports on plans to build a free school in Marylebone which will be submitted next month by a group of parents who are fighting to fill a void in Westminster’s education system.

“The “Marylebone Boys’ School”, which would be directly funded by the Department for Education and not controlled by Westminster City Council, would be partnered by St Marylebone Church of England school, who have been helping with the application process.

A council-commissioned report into demand for school places, published on Wednesday, found boys from Marylebone are being forced to leave Westminster schooling when they cross over to secondary school from primary.

The committee of parents and volunteers attempting to set up the school said the area was “crying out” for a new secondary.

David Palmer, a committee member and ex-BBC journalist, said: “The population of central London is exploding and people are moving out because they haven’t got anywhere to send their children. If you look at a map of all the schools, they’re all around the periphery.”

If the plan goes ahead the school would open by September 2014 with an initial intake of 120 pupils, with a new 120-strong year group added every September.

A site for the school is yet to be determined. It would initially open in a temporary building, but the committee hopes for somewhere close to Marylebone High Street.

The committee hopes10 per cent of the annual intake would be selected using an aptitude test for mathematics.

A draft of their application will be read this week and a formal submission is due to go to the DfE by January 4.

Westminster Council Labour leader Paul Dimoldenberg said: “There is a need for extra school places for secondary school children and that is clearly not being met and it does beg the question of what Westminster Council is going to do about it?”

Cllr Nickie Aiken, cabinet member for children, young people and community protection, said: “Westminster supports the government’s policy on encouraging more free schools and academies across the country to help improve choice and standards.

“We are particularly keen as a local authority to support free school applications where a need has been identified in the community, and in the case of Marylebone we agree there is an emerging demand for additional secondary school places.””

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