Bid for Brent’s first free school

Ma’at Education say they want their school to steer youngsters away from crime

A group of parents and teachers concerned at educational standards hope to set up the first free school in Brent.

Known as Ma’at Education, the group has applied to the Department of Education to set up a new secondary, which organisers say will offer a more holistic education which will steer youngsters away from crime.

Free schools are state funded and can be set up by anybody as long as they can show there is parental demand for it, and operate outside local authority control.

Janet White, a teacher of 17 years who used to work at Capital City Academy in Doyle Gardens, Willesden, has been involved in drawing up the proposal.

She said: “I have worked in ordinary state schools and academies, and I like the idea our parents can get more involved in the whole process of setting up a school. It is a fantastic idea and it really does bring the community together.

“We are coming from a totally different angle for other schools. Ma’at is much more holistic, it is about nurturing the child. It is a 360 approach to education which is not an ethos being projected by any of the other schools.”

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The group hopes to open the school next September in the south of the borough, and have been looking at sites in Harlesden, Willesden and Kilburn – including the College of North West London campus in Kilburn High Road which was controversially mothballed last year.

It would open from 8am until 6pm, and operate a no exclusion policy, which organisers hope will prevent struggling youngsters from dropping out of school and turning to crime and anti social behaviour.

Some 47 per cent of the first time entrants to the criminal justice system in Brent in 2007/8 came from Black Caribbean and Black African heritage groups, according to Brent Council figures.

The Government’s flagship free school policy has proved controversial, and teachers unions have warned that they are unaccountable, and will undermine educational standards because they do not have to employ fully qualified teachers.

However, Ms White insisted the Ma’at school would be run by qualified teachers.

She said: “We have children in the borough being taught in Pupil Referral Units. In terms of giving pupils an opportunity to live them the full breadth of education, this is limited.

“We want to give all children the opportunity to achieve.”

The school will find out in September if they get the go ahead.