Wembley free school heralded as an ‘exciting opportunity’ for students

Arena House, where the Michaela Community School is proposed

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

The Michaela Community School plans to open at Arena House in North End Road

Arena House, where the Michaela Community School is proposed

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

The director for a company which is helping a proposed free school launch in Wembley Park has said the school will offer an ‘unashamedly academic’ approach to learning and hailed it as an ‘exciting opportunity’ for students.

The school, called the Michaela Community School (MCS), would be set-up by Katharine Birbalsingh, a teacher and writer, who would also be the headmistress and is a friend of education secretary, Michael Gove.

Directors claim they have secured Arena House, in North End Road, formerly home to the College of North West London. Speaking to the Times, Tom Legge, who is helping to set-up the school, said they were in contact with Brent Council and would be meeting with them to ensure their plans were in line with the local authorities needs.

He said: “What is most important is discovering what Brent needs and what their take on it is.

“We will look at what their requirements are and fit in with that, we want it to be part of the family of Brent schools.

“What will set Michaela apart is the approach and focus on the teaching of ‘knowledge’ and providing a key academic focus on English and Maths.”

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Brent Council previously told the Times they had a ‘number of concerns’ over the proposed school, which has previously tried to launch in both Wandsworth and Lambeth.

Members of Brent’s Teaching Unions have also expressed concern over the growing trend of free schools and said it could be detrimental for other schools in the borough, adding that the Wembley is already home to a number of schools.

Mr Legge added: “We took a long look at where the pupils are that would benefit most from this school, in Brent the demographic is there and we feel in can benefit from this type of education.

“It’s not about privatising education but about having diversity in the system.

“We will be going to consultation soon and are keen to hear from people and their thoughts, we want to give parents the full facts and explain exactly what the school can offer.”

Cllr Mary Arnold, Brent Council’s lead member for children and families, said the council would be proactively seeking assurances that the school will follow appropriate practice in terms of teaching and learning, equalities and as an employer, in line with the Council’s agreed ‘free school criteria’.”

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