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All 56 pupils of failing Old Kent Road free school given new places

All 56 pupils who attended Southwark Free School have been given new places at alternative schools, the News has learnt.

Two weeks ago the News reported that the tiny free school in Old Kent Road would be all but certain to close, after letters were sent to parents on January 12.

Parents revealed that the only permanent member of teaching staff had left in December. The school had also only filled fourteen per cent of its 420 places.

A spokesperson for Southwark Council on Tuesday said: “There were 56 Southwark Free School children to be placed, alternative schools have been secured for all of them.”

Southwark Free School Trust, which opened the school with former Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s blessing in 2012, is waiting for the Department of Education (DoE) to make its final decision on whether to close the school.

A DoE spokesperson told the News that a four-week period for community members to make representations about its closure will end in early February. A final decision will be made after this period.

“Our priority is ensuring children’s education is not disrupted. Should the school close, we will be work with trust and the local authority to identify alternative places for students,” the spokesperson said.

One mum told the News outside the school that the closure announcement was “a shock” and came at “very short notice”.

“We only found out last week on [January 12]. But the board have been very good, they have helped my son find a place in another school which he is starting in a few days.”

Another mum who did not want to be named said: “My son is in Year One and his teacher was really good. She was the last to leave and she left in December because the school wouldn’t offer her a permanent contract.

“We don’t want our kids to split up. Some of us have been crying. The teaching was good, and things were going well until they came back from summer. Then things went downhill.

“I’m lucky, my son was offered a place at Southwark Park Primary School. But we haven’t actually been told when the school will close.”


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