Search

New Archway free school head ‘too busy’ for controversy

15:19 19 June 2014

The former Ashmount School building

The former Ashmount School building

Archant

The headteacher of a controversial free school set to open in September is not concerned by the negative media attention the project has received, she has said.

Laura BirkettLaura Birkett

Whitehall Park School, which is set to replace the former Ashmount Primary School building in Hornsey Rise, has been at the centre of a row between Islington Council and Michael Gove, as well as between residents.

It is still not decided whether half of the site will be used by the town hall for housing, or if the two-form entry school – set to cost the government more than £10million – will be given the whole plot.

There have also been doubts raised over whether the timetable for the school’s building plans are realistic and whether there is high enough demand for places to justify its existence.

“I’m obviously aware of the news stories but I don’t need to worry about that,” said new head Laura Birkett.

“My job as a headteacher is to make sure that when the first children come through the door they have the best possible teaching staff and learning environment.

Focus

“You’re so busy as a head and so focused on the children. You have to deal with distractions at any school – but the reason we’re here is for the kids.”

Over the last few weeks Ms Birkett has been visiting some of the more than 40 children who have confirmed their place at Whitehall Park at their nurseries and at homes in Islington, Camden, Hackney and Harringey.

The school has space for 56 reception children in its two classes and is still advert- ising places online – despite the Department for Education, which has financed the school, saying it was oversubscribed in January.

But the head, who helped spearhead St John The Baptist School in Hackney to the cusp of an outstanding Ofsted report, said this was perfectly normal.

“In my experience from working in state schools this is normal for this time of year,” she said. “There are families out there still who are not aware that you have to apply for a reception place so early and there are others who have not yet decided or are waiting before they accept an offer.”

Two assistant heads and a reception teacher have 
already been appointed at the school, and Ms Birkett said that a number of parents were interested in being governors and forming a parent teacher association.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a school starting from scratch,” she said.

“The advantage of being a free is that we can take all the best bits of what other Islington schools are doing, but we also have the freedom to pick and choose and try new teaching methods.”

Latest News Stories

27 minutes ago
Lisa Lovelock with neighbours Charlie Moir and Shirley Moir who have been terrorised by a massive, vicious ginger cat for the last two years

Pet left woman needing stitches in one of several attacks, neighbour claims

Police want to talk to this man regarding the spate of armed robberies

Gun toting thief is believed to have taken £10,000 from 13 London shops in three month spree

Yesterday, 16:30
Two new train strikes are planned for June 4 and June 9  (Photo by Cate Gillon/Getty Images)

Network Rail workers are to stage two strikes next month after a new pay offer was rejected.

Yesterday, 15:51
Alan Cartwright was knifed to death in February

18-year-old set for court appearance today following Alan’s brutal stabbing in February

Most read news

Competitions

The sell out 2014 event 32 Londoners, returns to the Coca-Cola London Eye!

The Coca-Cola London Eye is proud to announce that 32 Londoners will be returning this June, following last year’s sell out event. The event will feature 32 talks, in each of the London Eye’s 32 capsules on 32 extraordinary Londoners.

You could take in stunning views of London over brunch at the Sky Garden

Celebrate lighter, brighter days with the chance of winning an indulgent brunch for two with a bottle of bubbles at Darwin, the cool and casual brasserie 36 floors up at Sky Garden.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder