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Mystery over Highbury free school bid after £33.5million government spend

PUBLISHED: 12:42 27 July 2016 | UPDATED: 11:21 28 July 2016

Former London Metropolitan University building Ladbroke House in Islington

Former London Metropolitan University building Ladbroke House in Islington

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Mystery surrounds controversial plans for a new secondary free school in Highbury.

The Department for Education (DfE) has spent £33.5million on former London Metropolitan University building Ladbroke House, in Highbury Grove, it was revealed by The Guardian this week.

But Islington Council leader Richard Watts said the council only knew about the proposal when designs appeared on an architect firm’s website.

He branded the DfE’s spending on Ladbroke House as a “staggering waste of taxpayers’ money,” and said there was no need for another school in the area as there are two successful community secondary schools in the area already: Highbury Fields, and Highbury Grove.

Islington National Union of Teachers (NUT) said it will be organising a protest against the plans in September, with branch secretary Ken Muller calling it a “criminal waste of money”.

There is little information available about the proposal, but architects Architecture Initiative has published artist impressions of what the renovated school may look like.

It appears that the proposal would be for a arts-focused school with 750 places, with residential flats above the school.

The DfE said it was “considering options” but refused to divulge further information.

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