Organisation behind proposed free school in Wembley accused of failing to do their homework

Arena House where the Michaela Community School is proposed

Arena House where the Michaela Community School is proposed - Credit: Archant

Union rep slams Michaela Community School claiming they have a ‘lack of understanding’ of the area

Jean Roberts

Jean Roberts - Credit: Archant

Consultation meetings into a proposed free school in Wembley have been met with criticism following poor attendance and claims that school bosses had not done their homework.

The meetings were a chance for parents, teachers and residents to hear about the proposals to build the Michaela Community School (MCS) in Wembley Park.

Both were held at Chalkhill Community Centre, in Chalkhill Road, last week but residents who attended have said it was clear that those involved in setting up the school did not have an understanding of the area.

Jean Roberts, London executive for the association for teachers and lecturers (ATL) said representatives from the school outnumbered residents.

She said: “I found their answers were not satisfactory and got the impression that they did not know Brent and assumed it was the same as South London which it is not.”

MCS which is the brainchild of free school supporter Katharine Birbalsingh has previously tried to open in both Wandsworth and Lambeth.

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Ms Roberts added: “When asked why they had chosen Brent instead of South London they suggested it was just because they couldn’t secure a building but that is no reason to come to an area with a high concentration of schools already.

“I expected them to have done more homework about the area they are hoping to serve.”

The building is proposed to be at Arena House in North End Road, the former home of the College of North West London (CNWL).

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.

MCS was unavailable for comment.