Doubt cast over Hackney Wick free school after setback


School - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The future of a free school in Hackney Wick has been plunged into uncertainty after it has once again delayed its opening in order to raise “significant additional capital investment”.

Hackney Wick Academy secondary school was approved in June 2014 by then education secretary Michael Gove and was originally scheduled to open its doors in September 2015, but was delayed.

Now it has announced it will not be opening in 2016 either.

The school, which was proposed by education charity Debate Mate will have five forms and places for 150 pupils.

Debate Mate did not respond to the Gazette’s request for comment but a statement on the school’s Facebook page said: “Whilst the Hackney Wick Academy (HWA) trust remain committed to tackling the deficit in school places and offering meaningful choice to parents and carers, we have after consultation with the Department for Education, taken the decision not to open the school in September 2016.

“We have taken this decision because the trust is currently raising significant additional capital investment to ensure that the school is state-of-the-art and can serve not just the students but the entire community.”

A Freedom of Information request by education publication Schools Week revealed that 53 free schools have pushed back their opening dates since September last year.

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A Department of Education spokesman said: “Free schools are a vital part of our plan for education. The trust has put together an innovative and interesting proposal for Hackney Wick Academy, which we want to support. We are currently in discussion with the trust to determine how best to deliver this proposal.”

Jamie Duff, Hackney NUT said the delay in opening exposed the “flaws in this government’s ideologically driven free school and academy programme”.

He added: “The government is trying to create an education market as part of their policy of creeping privatisation. This policy is motivated not by what is best for children but by the need to create a market to facilitate the privatisation of state education.

“Education provision needs to be carefully planned and borough wide to deal with the shortage of places. The local authority should be demanding the right to open new community schools where they are needed. There are many parents in London desperate to get their children into local schools – the education of children is too important to be left to chance”.