When I was elected in May 2015, one of my six key pledges was to secure more good school places in the Borough.
Sutton is facing a school place crisis, with 500+ places needed by 2020/21 and the first new school needing to at least partially open next year. However, the Council have not even approved planning permission for one new school, let along got spades in the ground.
This is primarily due to the Council’s politically motivated decision to withdraw their offer of the derelict all-weather pitch in Rosehill park to the Greenshaw Learning Trust as a site for a new school and instead embark on a campaign to build a school on the Sutton Hospital site, which the Council’s own surveyors said was 80% too small. Until recently, the Greenshaw Learning Trust was the only education provider that the Department for Education had approved to build a new free school in Sutton, and they rejected the Sutton Hospital site.
Since then, the Harris Academy Federation has also been approved to provide a new secondary school in the Borough, which the Council wants to see go on the Sutton Hospital site. Whilst I welcome the fact that we are starting to see some action in tackling Sutton’s school place crisis, I still have real reservations about a school going on this site, especially without a more holistic approach being taken to the whole of the former hospital site. The land is too small, Brighton Road is already congested and there is very little transport infrastructure to the area.
Notwithstanding my concerns on the site, Harris has a good record of achievement, especially in London. I have worked with them at primary school level at the Harris Academy Carshalton, and I look forward to supporting their aim to bring more excellent teaching to our children in Sutton.
I will continue to push for a school to go on the derelict all-weather pitch in Rosehill park and to secure the new good school places that Sutton desperately needs. Please keep an eye on my website and social media for further updates.
Orchard Hill, a specialist learning College that already operates in the Borough, has also been given approval to build a specialist school in the Borough, but this is in early stages.