Latymer Head Voices Concerns Over West London Free School

Claiming current local infrastructure 'cannot cope with influx of children'

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West London Free School

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Toby Young and the team of parents behind the high profile West London Free School are celebrating, after Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, gave final approval for the school to open in Hammersmith & Fulham this September.

It is the first free school to be granted full ministerial approval, and will offer an extra 120 places per year in the borough.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has indicated its willingness to sell Palingswick House in Hammersmith to the school, following its decision on February 7 to sell the site to help reduce the council’s historic £133 million debt.

The council says discussions on the purchase price for the site are ongoing to ensure that the requirements to achieve value for money for the DfE and "best consideration" for the council are met.

The news however has not been universally welcomed. Latymer Upper Head Peter Winter has written to neighbours voicing his concerns over the school claiming traffic will increase and that the current local infrastructure would not cope with the influx of children and parents.

Palingswick House is a short distance from Latymer, across the road from Ravenscourt Park Preparatory School and with Sacred Heart High School a few hundred metres along the road.

Mr Winter says: "Whilst we have no argument with the proposal to establish a new secondary school in Hammersmith and Fulham we do wish, however, to raise a number of serious practical concerns at the proposal to locate a new secondary school in this already very busy King Street area."

Acton resident Toby Young responded saying: "It is important to bear in mind West London Free School will be serving areas like Hammersmith, Ravenscourt Park and Brook Green. Children won't have to travel far.

"It's also going to be half the size of a typical comprehensive and Palingswick House will only accommodate the lower school. There will never be more than 600 children there and they won't be arriving all at once. We want to grow slowly, giving everyone in the area time to adjust."

This leaves open the question of where the upper school will be situated once the free school becomes established.

February 16, 2011