Gladstone Free School becomes the second in Brent to defer opening this year

Paul Phillips has released a statement on the school's website

Paul Phillips has released a statement on the school's website - Credit: Archant

A second free school which planned to open in Brent this year has been forced to postpone leaving a further 120 children in limbo.

After weeks of speculation, Gladstone School has admitted it has deferred its opening date because it failed to find a suitable site.

The news comes a month after The Gateway Academy missed its deadline to secure premises in time for the next academic year leaving 85 children without a school place.

In a statement released on its website on Friday, Paul Phillips, Gladstone’s principal, said: “It is desperately disappointing that we are being forced to defer our opening for a year, and that the conditional offers for September 2014, which we made in good faith in March, now have to be withdrawn.”

In April, the school told families to accept places from other schools as it battled to secure a site in time for the start of the new academic year this autumn.

It had provisionally earmarked the grounds of the old William Gladstone School near Gladstone Park, Dollis Hill, as their potential base.

But the Brent Council owned site is Metropolitan Open Land has the same level of protection as a green belt site in terms of development and residents campaigned against the idea.

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Alison Hopkins, former Dollis Hill councillor who the school on the protected site, said: “It is unfortunate but if they had not wasted so much time trying to open in an impossible place and had not been focussed on that one location, then they might have found somewhere for the school to go.”

Jean Roberts from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ALT) executive and Brent National Union of Teachers (NUT) secretary said parents have been let down by the government’s free school programme.

She added: “New schools anyway should be in the hands of the local authority so they can be built where there is need and for the appropriate age group”.

Rumours that Gladstone would set up in the former Kilburn campus of the College of North West London in Priory Park Road, were quashed earlier this month when another free school Marylebone Boys’ School announced they would temporarily open on the site.

Mary Pooley, deputy director of the Free Schools Group at the Department for Education said: “We have been delighted to work with groups, such as Gladstone School, which share our vision to provide more children with the opportunity for an excellent education.

“We will continue working to secure a site, and extend our full support to the school for a successful opening in September 2015.”

Brent Council has reassured parent there are enough places in the borough for children who have applied for Gladstone and Gateway.

If parents have any concerns they should contact the council’s admissions team on 020 8937 3110 or school.admissions@brent.gov.uk

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