St Luke's free school opens at church in bid to ease places crisis

Governors’ chairwoman Penny Roberts at the new free school buildings

Published: 08 September 2011

AN independently run free school set up to ease a pupil places crisis  has opened its doors in a Hampstead church.

Fifteen children started term at St Luke’s School on Tuesday.
The school at St Luke’s Church, in Kidderpore Avenue  – which will admit children aged 4 to 11 – has been made possible by controversial government reforms allowing parents to open and run their own state-funded schools if a shortage of places can  be proved.
Chairwoman of governors Penny Roberts, who has campaigned for a free school in Hampstead for two years, said: “We started this because so many children on our doorstep are out of the catchment area for any other school.”
Last year, 76 children in Hampstead and Belsize were left without a school place and council officials have already forecast a greater number will be in the same predicament in 2011. 
Fifteen four-year-olds met their teachers at home this week, ahead of their first day in the refurbished building next week. 
The school will be run by parents, residents and members of St Luke’s Church, with the help of the London Diocesan Board for Schools.
Senior councillors decided last night (Wed) to give the go-ahead for the Town Hall to sell two former hostels in Belsize Park which are the focus of another free school campaign.
Parents have threatened legal action to delay the sale of the hostels in Maresfield Gardens and Fitzjohns Avenue, where they want to set up a school.
Council finance chief Theo Blackwell said last night that the sale had raised £11million which would now be re-invested in providing affordable housing and carrying out much-needed housing repairs. 
• Camden primary pupils scored their best-ever results, which were well above the national average, in their annual SATs tests – with improvements in provisional scores for reading, writing, English and maths.


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