‘Free’ School seeks to evict up to 500 workers from site

The Michaela Community School (MCS) group is seeking to take possession of theTrident Business Centre, having lost their preferred site in Lambeth.
Currently the Trident Business Centre is home to Wandsworth Youth Enterprise Centre, a registered charity, which aims to provide young people (17-30) an opportunity to set up and establish their own business. WYEC has been established since 1988 and the TBC, a trading subsidiary, was established in 1998. It currently provides hundreds of jobs for young people.
It is unlikely that suitable alternative accommodation for the Business Centre could be found in time for the stated opening of the Michaela Community School in September 2012.
Wandsworth Save Our Schools believes that this underlines many of the flaws in the arguments being put forward by the MCS group.
• The Wandsworth Youth Enterprise has a 100 year lease on the Trident building and Wandsworth have invested money in making it fit for that purpose. To convert the building to a school, would require alterations and planning permission, making it unlikely to the MCS to meet their target of opening in September 2012.
• The owners of the site, the London Development Agency, would have to either agree to give a lease to the MCS or to sell the site. It raises the question of who would pay? Would it be Wandsworth, at a time when they are cutting services to some of the most needy in the borough.
• There has been no demand for the school anywhere in Wandsworth. The demand, such as it was, was in the north of Lambeth. The MCS group are now trying to create that demand. As places will be allocated by lottery from a ten mile wide area there is little chance of local children getting a place at the school.
• There is, at present, no shortage of secondary places in Wandsworth, with about 2/3 of secondary students, only, being residents of Wandsworth and over 300 surplus places for year 7 (170 if faith schools are excluded). These figures will be increased by 120 when the Bolingbroke School opens in September 2012.

WSOS believes that, if this project goes through, parents who apply will not know until the last minute whether the school will open or not on time. In the meantime, other schools will be unable to plan because they may not know which pupils will/will not be attending any new school. That, given the MCS stated aims, it is completely contradictory and wrong for them to put in jeopardy a project which is doing so much to benefit so many young people and to risk such disruption to the start of a new school year.

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