Nov 8 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
A PARENTS group has launched a bid to establish a government-funded free school near Gladstone Park in Brent.
Project coordinator, Jim Gatten, who has two children and lives in Cricklewood, said that although Brent has good quality schools, there is a shortage of places at secondary level and many parents fear there will not be enough places for the high number of pupils who are about to reach the age of 11.
He is one of about 15 parents working to prepare an application to the Department for Education for a secondary school.
He said: “There is a lot of anxiety about what to do as a parent. People are even talking about moving away.
“Brent has a lot of quality schools but there is a shortage of provision which we hope to provide.”
If the school is approved, the parents plan to call it Gladstone School.
A free school is government-funded but opts out of local authority control, giving its management more power over the budget and the curriculum.
Mr Gatten says Gladstone School would have a traditional curriculum and most likely offer the English Baccalaureate rather than A-levels.
The teaching style would be interactive and energetic, he says.
Mr Gatten said: “One of the benefits of setting up a free school is that you come with a blank page. and design a school. You can say, ‘let’s assume there are no rules’.
“Some of the teaching methods will be unusual but they have been proved to work.
“Instead of spending a lot of time sitting at desks we will be actively engaging.”
The school would have an open policy on applications and, if they were over-subscribed, priority would be given to pupils who live nearest, Mr Gatten said.
The name was chosen because of the strong links with former prime minister William Gladstone in the area. Mr Gatten added: “There used to be a William Gladstone School next to the park. We are pitching for a site near there.”
Other groups interested in setting up free schools in Brent are City Mission Free School, KPI Europe, Seacole Primary School and Hopscotch Nursery, in Chevening Road, is hoping to get support from an organisation setting up a free school to continue with the nursery.