You may have seen the post sent out on 17 August setting out concerns expressed by some members about the road safety implications of the application. The Council’s Planning Committee held a pre-application basis on 6 July. No decision was made. The Minute of the relevant section of that meeting can be read as part of the full article on the website.
It might now assist ECCO members to have some context for the Ark Blake application.
It seems strange to build a large school at a busy junction. So what is the rationale behind it?
Simply, there is a need for the provision of additional school places because of the rise in pupil numbers going through Croydon primary schools. The Local Education Authority (LEA) state that there is a particular need for more school places in our area of Central/North East Croydon.
Pupils start at secondary school in the school year when they are rising 12 (Year 7). Between 2017/18 and 2023/24 the number of Year 7 pupils on roll in Croydon is expected to rise by 11%.
Every LEA has a duty under the 2006 Education Act to ensure that there are sufficient school places for the pupil population which they serve. Under the 2011 Education Act, there is a presumption that LEAs must – when they seek to set up a new school – invite proposals from individuals or bodies who wish to establish a free school. The setting up of a Free School has to be sanctioned by central government. The LEA has to provide the site. Free Schools operate in law as academies.
Ark Blake was approved as a Free School by the Department for Education in 2015. It will be a six form entry school, which means that there will be a maximum entry of 180 pupils into each year group from Year 7 to Year 11. There will be 300 sixth from places. The school roll will rise, therefore, rise to 1,200 over a number of years.
Not everyone agrees that the school is necessary to meet demand, and that it would be even viable. Inside Croydon published a blog by “Walter Cronxite” on 3 February 2015 under the strap “Council presses on with £22m academy that no one wants”.