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New free school in Wembley hit with asbestos claims

PUBLISHED: 08:00 01 June 2013

Arena House will be the site of  Michaela Community School

Arena House will be the site of Michaela Community School

Archant

Teaching union alleges building which will house Michaela Community School contains deadly material

Worries have been raised about possible asbestos in a new free school in Wembley Park which opponents say isn’t needed anyway.

Michaela Community School (MCS), approved by the Department of Education, plans to open at Arena House in North End Road in September next year.

The founding governors have been announced and are holding an information event on Saturday, June 15 at Brent Town Hall to boost intake.

The school, which was originally to open in South London but was twice rejected, has faced opposition from Wembley residents and parents and teaching unions due to the high number of secondary schools in the area. There are also concerns over the suitability of the building.

Jean Roberts, London executive for the Association for Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “We’re almost certain the building has asbestos and it’s right next to the railway line.”

She added: “There’s simply no need for the school in Wembley Park. It’s in completely the wrong place; it would be competing with schools in an area where there are plenty, rather than actually adding to the community.

“It’s also looking to get a fairly exclusive group of children there; it’s not like your ordinary children because it’s going to be more academic.”

However, the school’s chair of governors, Suella Fernandes, said the school’s focus on academic excellence would make a positive contribution to the area.

She said: “Michaela will be a school that expects excellence and only ‘outstanding’ will do.”

A spokesman for MCS said about 200 parents had registered an interest.

He said: “We are awaiting the results of an asbestos survey to reveal whether there is any asbestos in the building.

“If the survey does reveal incidences of asbestos on site, it will be dealt with in accordance with all health and safety legislation.”

He added: “The building has been used as a former college and has been approved for use by the DfE, the Education Funding Agency and the Michaela Community School Trust.”

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