Controversial plans to use Paxton primary school, Woodland Road as an interim site for a new Gipsy Hill secondary school have been scrapped.

Gipsy Hill Federation, which runs the primary school, announced “with sadness” its new Gipsy Hill secondary school – which will be based in Clapham – will not be able to welcome its first intake of pupils in September 2017 as planned.

The proposals led to more than 800 people signing a petition opposing the plans with part of the petition reading: “The Gipsy Hill Federation has decided, subject to planning permission, to use Paxton primary school as a temporary site for the new Gipsy Hill secondary school until the proposed building on the current Glenbrook primary school site in Clapham is available to take pupils in September 2019.

“This would involve up to eight classes (up to approx 240 children) of Year 7 pupils in 2017/8 and a further potential  eight classes (approx 240 pupils) joining in 2018/2019 making a total of around 480 secondary school students being taught at the Paxton Primary School site.”

Protests came from parents and residents as well as Gipsy Hill ward councillors.

But in a statement on its website the Federation claimed: “Following a passionate campaign for a new secondary school by parents of pupils at the Federation family of primaries across South London backed by the local community, the Department for Education (DfE) in 2015 gave the go-ahead for Gipsy Hill school to open its doors in 2017.

The statement added: “The school has received 2.5 applications for every place.

“Despite exhaustive efforts by Federation staff and board members to identify suitable sites, the DfE has not been able to find an ‘interim’ site to house temporary buildings for the school whilst permanent premises are built at Glenbrook, Park Avenue, Clapham.

“Officials from the DfE informed the Federation last week that the planned September 2017 opening should be deferred.

“Headteacher James Hadley said: “It is with profound sadness that the Federation has had to tell parents, future pupils and staff that we will not be able to keep our promise to open Gipsy Hill school this September.

“We had discussed with the Department for Education two viable, fully planned options to house the school for two years whilst the permanent site was built.

“But the DfE was concerned that a delay in building work outside our control could result in temporary buildings being needed for a third year and neither of the options could offer sufficient space for an additional year’s intake.
“We have discussed at length the situation with the Department for Education and together have reached the sad conclusion that we simply could not take the risk to open the school if there was any chance of not enough space for our students at any point.

“The strength of parental resolve to open the school has spurred us on to do whatever it takes to open the school and I am very sorry that we aren’t able to do this in 2017.”

The Gipsy Hill school is part of the Free School programme and will form part of a multi-academy trust with Gipsy Hill Federation primary schools across South London, the website statement adds.

“Lambeth and Southwark councils have given assurances that there will be enough secondary school places for every current Year 6 pupil.”

Further reading: MORE THAN 800 RESIDENTS AND PARENTS SIGN PETITION OVER PAXTON PLANS October 14, 2016 on this websiote. Other stories on the issue can be found by searching ‘Paxton primary’.


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