Doomed free Newham school teachers describe ‘tough’ process

Leaders of the failed Newham Free Academy have not ruled out trying again despite the bruising process of trying to open.

Plans to launch the proposed mixed secondary school collapsed after it was unable to find a site in time for September.

It received just nine applications - three of which were first choice.

Ex-teacher Funmi Gbadeyan, who was due to take charge, said: “There was no site, so there were was no school.

“We put some sites on our application, one of them was the former Rokeby School, but they were just not suitable. That’s the bottom line.

“If you are a parent, what are you going to do? Put us down as your first choice when we don’t have a site?

“We had a lot of applications from people wanting to be teachers as well.”

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Free schools, education secretary Michael Gove’s flagship policy, are free from local authority control.

The Newham Free Academy promised to deliver a traditional “holistic education, with high expectations of academic excellence.”

Backed by the Redeemed Christian Church of God Open Heavens Sanctuary, it also pledged a “commitment to intellectual freedom, independent and collaborative learning.”

Pupils were to do at least eight GCSEs, including English, mathematics, history, science and Mandarin.

News of the school’s collapse was held up by some sections of the national press as a failure of the Government’s free schools programme.

But two other free schools - School 21 and the Eton-backed London Academy of Excellence - will open as planned in September.

Mrs Gbadeyan added: “(Opening) is a possibility in the future if we can get a site. There is good thinking behind the free schools. It’s not an easy process, we found it very tough.”

“I know Newham very well and I believe students are still looking for places.

“There are very intelligent people here just not being provided for.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education added: “Setting up a free school is not as easy task, securing a site can be particularly difficult

“All groups deserve credit for the hard work they put in at every stage of the process.”