Free school planned

Parents to take education into own hands

A GROUP of parents and teachers concerned over the standard of state education are planning to set-up what could be Brent’s first free school.

Frustrated at underachieving and violence amongst the youth, the group, based in Stonebridge and Harlesden, plan to provide a safe and holistic environment for them to learn and grow.

On a Friday night, the lead committee met in a shop in Harlesden to discuss their strategy to take-up the government’s latest offering - community run schools.

Joan McFarlene, who chaired the meeting and has been working in child care and education for over 30 years, said: “Our children in the community have been under achieving for 50 years and it’s about time we parents took control of their future. We want the best for them.

“Brent has a history of schools failing and now they [the youth] are killing themselves. In any other community there would be outrage, but we are not setting up a black or religious school. It’s not about the ethnicity. The problems don’t just affect black children.

“We want the school to be in line with the community, that they own and are an integral in it. And if we can make it work, it can work for anybody.”

Most Read

However there was concern as to how far the government had thought out its plans and if the funding would affect state schools.

Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala (Lab: Stonebridge) said: ““It’s vital we support groups that want to help Brent children with their education. However, it’s worrying that the Lib-Con Government has failed to put in place the necessary infrastructure and support groups need to set-up ‘Free schools.’ There is also concern that resources maybe diverted from existing schools to fund the initiative. If these issues are not addressed properly, this policy may well end-up being nothing more than a gimmick.”

A spokeswoman from the Department of Education said: “Once you have submitted an application for a free school you are assigned a liaison officer so if there are any queries they will be pointed in the right direction for expert advice.

If the proposal is agreed they would then work with Partnerships for Schools which advises on school buildings, feasibility and costs.”