Brent Council ‘concerned’ over free school plan for Wembley

Michaela Community School announced on their website they have secured a site in Wembley Park

Michaela Community School announced on their website they have secured a site in Wembley Park - Credit: Archant

Teacher Katharine Birbalsingh wants to set up the Michaela Community School in the borough

Cllr Mary Arnold, lead member for children and families

Cllr Mary Arnold, lead member for children and families - Credit: Archant

Brent Council has said they have a ‘number of concerns’ over the possible building of a controversial free school in Wembley Park.

The school, called the Michaela Community School (MCS), would be set-up by Katharine Birbalsingh, a teacher and writer, who would also be the headmistress and is a friend of education secretary Michael Gove.

The school was originally intended for South London and potential sites included Lambeth and Wandsworth.

However, the school’s official website claims they have now purchased a site in Wembley Park, understood to be currently owned by the College of North West London (CNWL).


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But Brent Council has told the Times they had not been consulted on whether the plans fitted in with their efforts to ease the strain on school places.

A spokesman added: “The existing schools in Brent as well as parents, teachers and trade unions have raised a number of concerns over the new school.”

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Free schools can be controversial because they are able to break away from local authority control.

Under the rules they are free to set their own admissions policy and manage their own finances, a move critics claim could detract from existing schools in the area.

Cllr Mary Arnold (Lab), who is Brent Council’s lead member for children and families told the Times: “We are concerned about this announcement and will be proactively approaching Katherine Birbalsingh who has led the development of the school to seek assurances that the school will follow appropriate practice in terms of teaching and learning, equalities and as an employer, in line with the Council’s agreed ‘free school criteria’.”

MCS has been contacted for a comment but has not responded as yet.

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