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Parents and teachers call for plans for Whitehall Park School to be scrapped
Parents and teachers have called for plans for a proposed free school in Hornsey Rise to be blocked.
The opening of Whitehall Park School has caused heated debate as opponents argue that there is not enough demand for spaces in either Haringey or Islington.
It was due to open in September 2014 on a Hornsey Lane site vacant since Ashmount Primary School moved to nearby Crouch Hill earlier this year.
Supporters of the plans say 1,120 people have signed a petition for a free school on the site.
But at a public meeting in Crouch End chaired by Jeremy Corbyn, the MP for Islington North, on Thursday, opponents argued demand for places was already being met by other schools in the area.
Headteacher Barrie O’Shea said there were 93 unfilled reception places in the borough this year, which proves there is no need for a new school.
Julia Davies, the National Union of Teachers representative for Hairngey said Haringey Borough Council predicted a “containable” shortage of just four places in Crouch End.
Opponents said a new school would divert pupil funding away from schools both in Haringey and Islington.
Islington Borough Council wants to replace the old school building with a housing development that would include 82 family homes.
Nick Ward, a teacher who lives in nearby Tollington Way, told the meeting: “We don’t want a school to be run by a random company that just wants to make a profit.
“When any organisation is run by a private company, profit is their ultimate objective.”
The Ashmount Site Action Group, which wants to keep the site in educational use, believes the old building can be refurbished.
Education Secretary Michael Gove will now decide whether to seize the site – which is owned by Islington Borough Council – under the Education Act 2011 and lease it indefinitely to Bellevue Place, the trust which is proposing to open Whitehall Park School.
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