New catholic free school in Brixton Hill quietly launches consultation

Part of the Brixton Hill campus of Lambeth College is to be redeveloped as a catholic free school
Part of the Brixton Hill campus of Lambeth College is to be redeveloped as a catholic free school

A ‘Catholic ethos’ free school planned for the Brixton Hill campus of Lambeth College has launched a public consultation ahead of its planned opening in September this year.

The Trinity Academy London, a school that will be run by parents free from council control, began the six week consultation of “prospective parents and member of the community” on Monday, without any notable announcement.

The institution, which already has a headmaster and plans to admit 120 Year 7 pupils in September, has also published an admissions policy with a catchment area that includes Balham, Clapham and the Brixton Hill area. Children living closest to Clapham Common tube station or the Brixton Hill site will be given priority at the school.

Trinity Academy Brixton Hill Free School Although the academy claims to have a Catholic ethos, it says: “No religious criteria whatsoever are used within the admissions process.”

The policy goes on: “Trinity Academy is a state-funded, independent, non-selective school with a Catholic ethos and is open to members of all denominations and faiths and those with no religious background.”

The Trinity Academy will be completely independent from local authority control, and funding will come directly from the Department for Education (DfE).

The academy plans for the college site were revealed on Brixton Blog last month, with some locals being critical of the project.

brixton hill lambeth college
How part of the Lambeth College site looks now

Speaking to the Blog, Rachel Heywood, Lambeth’s cabinet member for children and families, said: “We already have enough secondary school places in Lambeth. We didn’t know anything about the Trinity Free School until we were informed that it had been given permission to open by the DfE, and had we been consulted we would have said that we did not need another secondary school in Brixton as we already have a variety of good schools with space.

“It is likely that the Trinity Free School will have a negative impact on existing provision, including Catholic secondaries like Bishop Thomas Grant and La Retraite. The Roman Catholic Diocese have not offered their support for the scheme either.”

As part of the consultation, Trinity Academy is to hold two public meetings. One at the Brix, Brixton, on January 27 and in the second in Clapham on February 12.

Dennis Sewell, chair of governers, said the school places are needed.
Dennis Sewell, chair of governors, said the school places are needed. Pic: BBC

Also speaking to the Blog last month, Dennis Sewell, chair of governors at Trinity Academy said that many parents in the borough currently seek education outside of Lambeth and that this “doesn’t hold the community together”.

“This year they managed to squeeze enough pupils in just about. In the long term there will be population growth across London. The time will come when it’s not so easy for other boroughs to afford Lambeth children coming to them. The Trinity school will use innovation in the curriculum to appeal to people who want a particular type of teaching and I don’t think it will be competition with a school down the road.”

As part of the plans for the current campus, Lambeth College will lose 4,000 sq ft of its facilities.

What do you make of the free school plans? Is the admissions policy fair? Email us your comments or leave your thoughts below.

More reaction to follow.

Related: Free school to be built at Brixton campus of Lambeth College

View the consultation document here. And the admissions policy here.

 

16 COMMENTS

  1. Would that be the same “Catholic ethos” which believes that homosexuality is a sin and all gay and lesbian people should remain celebate for their whole lives?? This is not an ethos which resonates with the tolerant and diverse ethos of Brixton or with common sense. Send our children there? Never.

  2. Any school not directly selecting on faith or ability should be praised BUT – Even without specific religious selection, a “catholic ethos” will not welcome the whole community – any families of strong other “ethos” will not apply – this is entirely unnecessary in a borough already divided by the quantity of christian faith schools – my family would be fine because we’re atheists but clearly some whole faith groups will be deterred from applying. I want my children to go to a school of all faiths and none – a specific religious ethos does not accomplish this – I worry that this tallies with the poor choice of an all white (mostly blond and blue eyed) prospectus.

    It seems to me that a group of families don’t want to invest in Lambeth academy or Evelyn Grace so engineering a suitable alternative to compete (definitely compete) and having an “ethos” helps the engineering.

  3. Hello Trinity Academy!

    I have a few questions:

    Can you explain the reasoning behind having two admissions points? Do you have up to date figures for projected demand and supply of secondary school places in the area around the school site and around the clock tower in Clapham? Many people living around the Brixton Hill site will have heard nothing about Trinity and will not be checking your website for updates – what steps will you be taking to ensure that they are aware of this plan and have the chance to respond?

    Thanks

  4. Lambeth local authority together with Head teachers, governors and parents work hard to ensure there are school places for future generations. Many schools have expanded and new ones are planned. Schools work together to support each other. Then a Free School comes along and arbitrarily decides to set up right next to a recently opened school and will openly compete for pupils. The logic of this scheme is a dog-eat-dog fight to see which school will survive and which will have to close. This is not any sort of Christian ethos that I recognise.

    • Which school are you referring to? The nearest new school I’m aware of is City Heights which is over a mile away.

      • Good point. Frankly I can’t think of any secondary school that would suffer from a new school opening on Brixton Hill. When we moved into the area my kid was too young for us to think about secondaries. I’ve always naively assumed we’d be in range of the Charter School and Dunraven. Fat chance, as it turns out. Dunraven’s apparently down to a 500m catchment for some ability ranges. Evelyn Grace is a possibility – but according to its website it is “heavily oversubscribed.” Still time to work it all out thankfully. I think it would be good to have a new secondary in the area that’s really serious about academic stuff. Apart from Dunraven and of course the legendary Graveney (if your kid can get 98 per cent on the test), nowhere else is particularly starry on the University Challenge front really.

  5. Free schools were set up by Gove to compete with state maintained schools. They will only entrench class divisions (schools cherry picking ‘advantaged’ pupils from affluent areas), promote cultural apartheid (faith schools) and exacerbate social disintegration (social segregation). With all its faults at least State Comprehensive education has rich and poor, Muslims, Jews and Christians etc educated in the same class hence promoting social interaction. Most state schools are judged to be either good or excellent. This can only be judged as an ideological attack by the Tories with their usual psychotic obsession with anti-statism and privatisation.

    Gove is deliberately starving state schools of resources to give to free schools leading to the the self-fulfilling prophecy that state schools will become ‘failing’ bog standard sink schools. A dumping ground for working class children and those from poverty backgrounds. The establishment of a ‘free school’ on the Brixton campus of Lambeth College must be resisted.

    The local community, parents, students, teachers, members of staff and Lambeth Council should have been consulted about the establishment of this ‘free school’. Instead the DofE issued a diktat decreeing this and completely bypassed even the semblance of democratic accountability. As a result Brixton will be deprived of a much needed FE facility catering to some of the most deprived sections of society and be replaced by classrooms for the better off and education for the elite. No doubt to rule over the plebs.

    • What you say Ian may be true of some free schools but not, it appears, this one. Trinity Academy gives priority to children on free school meals and pupil premium, so they’re clearly not into cherry picking socially. And they say they want to bring t’he best of the Catholic education tradition to the wider community’ – so d not discriminate on sectarian lines or indulge in cultural apartheid either. And surely Lambeth College had already put the site up for sale to property developers before this free school came along? I’m sure there are good free schools as well as bad ones and knee-jerk negativity is pretty pointless.

      • Sensible stuff.

        Although the use of two catchments – Brixton and Clapham – is dubious, and would not seem to meet the national admissions code.

        To some, this might seem like gerrymandering.

        A suspicion further fuelled by the sudden decision to use a lottery to allocate further places.

        How can we know this lottery will be policed properly?

        And, for that matter, how can we know the guaranteed places for the children of founders will be a fair process?

        • James

          We want to ensure that our admissions arrangements are as fair and as clear as possible. To that end we have worked closely with DfE officials in designing our policy and consulted the department’s admissions experts to make sure everything is fully compliant with the code. Our policy makes provision for independent provision and validation of random allocation procedures. We can assure you that the process will be scrupulously honest and equitable.

          • Glad to hear that.

            But still surprised the DfE allowed an out-of-school catchment.

            I can only assume this is for a transitional period – the first year only.

            Because catchments need to be defined by a point within a school.

          • Interested to know how the DfE squares the founders places with the admissions code, which states that schools must not:

            e) give priority to children on the basis of any practical or financial support parents may give to the school or any associated organisation, including any religious authority;

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