Plans for new free primary school in Wembley revealed

Katharine Birbalsingh is the headteacher of Michaela Community School

Katharine Birbalsingh is the headteacher of Michaela Community School - Credit: Archant

Proposals for a new primary school in Wembley have been announced.

The Michaela Community School Trust has revealed its plans days after parents across the borough found out what primary school was allocated to their three and four-year-olds.

The trust has drawn up the plans for Michaela Primary School which will be a feeder school for its Michaela Community School which opens in September.

The proposals will be submitted to the Department for Education for approval and if the green light is given the trust will locate a site in the area.

Katharine Birbalsingh, the headteacher of Michaela, is calling for residents with professional backgrounds to get involved with her primary school bid.

She said: “We need to show the Department for Education that our primary school will be as popular as our secondary school.

“If you have children aged three or under, please complete our online form and please tell your friends to do the same.

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“Your support will help make our vision become a reality.”

Ms Birbalsingh, a mother-of-one, came on to the public’s radar with a scathing attack on the standard of education at a Conservative party conference in 2010 – after which she lost her job. She condemned “the culture of excuses” something she stands by today, and aims to deliver a “traditional” approach to schooling.

She set up Michaela on the former site of the College of North West London after previous attempts in Lambeth and Wandsworth were unsuccessful.

The school in Arena House, North End Road, Wembley Park, will consist of 120 year seven pupils (age 11), increasing by one year group each year. At full capacity the school will have 840 children, including a sixth form.

Parents, teachers and residents launched a petition against the school which was given the green light last year and its funding from the DfE was secured in February.

Free schools are controversial with their critics because they are free from local authority control and can set their own curriculum and admissions policy.

Ms Birbalsingh told the Times her school will instil impeccable behaviour in pupils while offering a no nonsense approach to learning which will deliver a private standard of education.

She added: “We chose Brent because we thought it matched what we were trying to do.

“We want to show that inner city children can learn as much as any private school child.”

Sharmine Chowdhury-Tse, who chairs the Bumps and Babies and Busy Rascals inside the Queensbury Pub, in Walm Lane, Willesden is looking for a primary school for her two-year-old son.

She said: “I think it is good that there is a new primary school opening in the borough because there is a desperate need for more places.

“I know a lot of parents who have come into our group and moved out of Brent completely because there is not enough good schools to send their child to; and it is extremely difficult to get your child into those schools.

“I think this will relieve some pressure on parents in my position who are looking to enrol their child to a primary school next year.”

Last week figures released by Brent Council showed four out of five parents were allocated a place at their first choice primary school.

The 80.3 per cent figure (3,163 children) is up from 78 per cent last year (2,946).

A total of 185 children in the borough (4.7 per cent) were not given a place at any of their six choices but according to the council they were found a place at the nearest school with vacancies.

Last year that figure was 245 children (six per cent).