Lambeth Council has issued the following statement regarding Trinity Academy, the ‘Catholic ethos’ free school proposed for the Lambeth College site on Brixton Hill:
Lambeth, in common with local authorities across the country, has no power or influence over decisions about where free schools are set up.
This means the free school policy can cause havoc for the council’s admissions policy, where schools are set up in areas where there is no demand for places. This is the case with Trinity free school in Brixton where there’s no need for another secondary school.
Critically, we want Lambeth children to have the best quality education. We are opposed to the use of unqualified teachers in free schools and have asked Trinity free school to give an assurance that they will only employ suitably qualified teachers. Lambeth has worked hard, and successfully, with our schools to improve performance. Indeed, over the last eight years we’ve seen results improve year on year so much so that they are now higher than the national average.
We strongly disagree with the government’s belief that free schools are the only way to encourage innovation or greater parent participation. Across Lambeth, there is fantastic innovative work and parent participation in our schools – a prime example is the Elmgreen school in West Norwood – set up in 2007.
Trinity free school consultation – Lambeth Council’s response
I am writing to outline the council’s views on the proposed 4 form entry secondary school and to express our concerns regarding the location of this school and the unintended negative impact the school may have on existing Lambeth schools and the education of local children.
We have a statutory duty to ensure every child in Lambeth has a school place. The council is also responsible for putting in place plans to address future demand for school places.
There is no shortage of secondary school places in Lambeth and in particular no need for places in the north of the borough. We anticipate a new secondary school in Brixton will have an adverse impact on secondary schools in the centre and north of the borough, undermining existing good provision.
We also have concerns over the unusual admissions policy for Trinity free school serving as it does two quite distinct locations. We would want to see an admissions code that benefits and reflects the local community.
Quality of teaching
We are concerned the Department for Education has said free schools do not have to employ qualified teachers and we seek your assurance that the Trinity free school plans to recruit and employ only suitably qualified teachers. Our experience in overseeing excellent urban education has demonstrated that high quality teaching is essential to good outcomes.
We take every opportunity to work very closely with all schools in the borough and have a proven track record of high achievement in Lambeth, and of developing effective expansion places for new and existing schools. We therefore hope you will take our views into account and take up the opportunity to meet with us in the near future.
With best wishes, Cllr Lib Peck
Brixton Hill Councillor Martin Tiedemann made a submission to Trinity’s consultation restating the above points and also outlining concerns about the scale of the development needed on the site, to be shared with the College and two other schools; the likely effect on traffic and parking; and road safety issues.