Fresh protests over controversial Hornsey Rise free school plan

The foremer Ashmount School site

The foremer Ashmount School site - Credit: Archant

Anti-free school campaigners are set to hit the streets this month in anger at a proposed Government-backed primary set to open next year.

The campaign group called Support our Local Schools are furious with plans to turn the former Ashmount Primary School, in Hornsey Rise, into a free school – a type of financially independent school put forward by education secretary Michael Gove.

The future of the Ashmount Road site has been the subject of bitter debate since the school moved to a brand new £17million premises in the autumn.

Islington Council wants to knock the 60s building down to build housing, though many people think the area is over-crowded and want it to remain as a school.

Others object to free schools on principle and say the new institution could undermine state primaries in the area.

Ken Muller, spokesman for the campaign, said: “Unlike many London Boroughs, this part of north London is not short of primary places and the free school can only succeed by taking in pupils who would otherwise have attended established local schools, taking pupil funding with them.”

Campaigners say the new school, set to open as Whitehall Park School next September, will be funded by two private companies and their bid was approved by Mr Gove without local consultation.

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Mr Muller said: “Local people have not been asked if they want this school nor told about the enormous cost to local taxpayers of establishing an unnecessary new school on a site that has been deemed unfit for school use.

“If it is allowed to open it will not only railroad Islington’s plans for affordable social housing on the site but threaten the budgets of neighbouring local schools.”

Free schools can be set up by groups of parents, teachers, charities, businesses, religious or other groups and can teach what they want as long as the curriculum is deemed fair and balanced.

They receive cash straight from central government rather than councils, leading to criticism that they take funds away from local authorities.

Campaigners will be collecting signatures opposing the free school over the next few weeks and will host a at Christ Church, Crouch End Hill, on October 24.