I don't think I have as yet written about the school places issues that we have in Barnet, especially in East Finchley. It was a big issue on the doorstep, and the EF team has been engaging with it. Alison Moore has been working with the Archer Academy, a group of parents who are trying to set up a free school in East Finchley. I am pleased to be able to write that after meeting with the DfE, they are a provisional yes.
I have met some of the parents, and I'm thoroughly impressed by their vision, their commitment and the hard work they've put in. I am not surprised by the success of the bid, given that they have a seasoned pro like Helen Drake! But everyboy who has been involved should be very proud, and I congratulate them. Though I am not naturally a fan of free schools, and think there were some big problems in the legislation, this s somewhere it might work, and at the end of the day, my political dogma is less important than my local community.
I would just add some background, which is that many EF kids were able to go to schools like Fortismere, but that school is very popular now, and the catchment area is much smaller, which leaves EF with problems. As Christ College is a boys school, there are exascerbated problems with finding places for girls in particular. We do have one secondary school, Bishop Douglas, which is doing a heroic job with an impressive head teacher, but sadly has something like only 9 local children in this years year 7 intake. It isn't popular with local parents, and this is a big headache for those of us who want to support the school, and the practicalities on the ground.
With regards to primary school children, the outstanding rated Martin school will be expanded to fit 3 form entry. There may be planning considerations in the future, so I won't comment further. So progress is being made, and we three councillors try to support local parents as well as we can.