New Secondary School Will Be Built In South Wimbledon

Former Merton Adult Education site could be temporary school

South Wimbledon is set to be the location for a new primary school to be provided by the Harris Federation.

Merton Council says it is in negotiations to secure land for a new school, which they hope will be up and running by the summer of 2019.

It has said in a statement that its Cabinet is to consider authorising the purchase of land to enable the building of the new school by the Harris Federation.

It is not yet revealing where the land is, but says it is in the South Wimbledon area.

The urgent need for 180 secondary school places by September 2018, may also see the former Merton Adult Education site in Whatley Avenue used by Harris as a temporary school, providing  education for a maximum of 360 to include year 7 and 8 students only (aged 11-12 and 12-13) while the new school is constructed.

The proposal was reviewed by the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel on June 29 and will go to Cabinet for decision on Monday (July 4).

The government’s Education Funding Agency (EFA) will be responsible for building the new school. If the purchase of land is agreed by Cabinet, the current site will need to be cleared before construction can begin in early 2018, with a new school completed by summer 2019 at the earliest.

Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah said: “Merton has got some great schools that have really improved in the past few years, and demand for places is rising. After creating over 4,000 extra primary places we now need to ensure we have enough secondary school places.

“We are a business-like council, so any purchase of land to help us deliver the space for secondary school students will offer value for money, but more importantly it will offer local children the chance to get a great Merton education from five all the way through to 18.”

Sir Dan Moynihan, Chief Executive of the Harris Federation, said: "Our two secondary academies to the south and east of the borough are rated ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and they regularly receive in the region of 6 applications per place.

“The new Harris Academy Wimbledon will provide much-needed co-educational secondary places and give local parents a new and highly aspirational choice of school for their sons and daughters.

“Wimbledon families originally asked for the new school and we are pleased that our plans are finally coming to fruition.”

Suzie Leighton, a Merton parent whose son is aged 9, said: “I am delighted that, at long last, a permanent site has been found for the new Harris school in Wimbledon.  Merton needs more secondary places to cope with growing demand and the Harris Federation has the track record and ambition to deliver an excellent school.

“I'm excited that my son will have the opportunity to be one of the first cohorts to attend the new school, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Harris Federation as their plans progress.”

Jo Flynn, another local parent, said: “We're excited at the prospect of a high quality new school in Wimbledon and have been following progress with interest since we first heard about the plans.  It's good to have more choice, particularly another co-ed school.

“It's a great opportunity for our son, who is currently in year 3, and we are hoping the school will be able to open for a 2017 intake so  my daughter could also benefit and both of our children could be at the same school.”

But former Councillor and Cabinet Member for Education, Peter Walker, says it is situated in the wrong place.

He said: "Harris has decided to site its Free School in Wimbledon, when the need is for it to be sited in the east of the borough.  We have 5 of our eight secondary schools in Wimbledon and yet over half our secondary school pupils live in Mitcham and Morden.

"The result is that this much needed school expansion will be sited in the wrong place, be built on expensive private land, and will open too late to meet the needs of young people and their parents in the borough."

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July 4, 2016