Second Wandsworth Free School Planned

To offer a "public school style education" in Tooting

Plans for a new free school in Tooting promise to provide its pupils with a traditional “public school style education” with a big focus on academic achievement and high standards of discipline.

The Michaela Community School, which has already been approved by the Department for Education, is due to open next September and will admit 120 pupils each year.

Wandsworth's first free school, The Bolingbroke Academy in Bolingbroke Grove, will also open in September 2012 and work on its premises have already begun.

In Tooting The Michaela Community School says it will offer its pupils a "distinctive" education based on a traditional ethos more often found in "better private schools". It will provide a "knowledge-rich curriculum, prioritising academic subjects, and it will instil self-discipline and a strong work ethic in pupils".

According to its business plan, it will also "set high expectations and encourage competition and a sense of responsibility amongst pupils, staff and parents". It will also address issues that often hold back inner-city youth and give them personalised and specialist support.

The aim of the school is to create "a shining example of what is possible in the inner city, becoming one of the best schools in the country, renowned for academic excellence and capable of instilling extraordinary ambition in all its pupils, no matter what their background.

"The Michaela Community School believes that children at secondary school need less choice and more guidance. We also believe they need more tradition in terms of rules and routines. Pupils will be required to move out of the way of adults, stand at assembly, have a perfect uniform, and obey. Obedience is not a word that we will shy away from as it is this concept that will see our pupils through to having successful lives in the future.

"The long term plan for the Michaela Community School is to open many schools in London's poorer districts, to give disadvantaged children the opportunity to access an excellent education. Our values of strong discipline, a focus on academic subjects, knowledge-acquisition and high expectations are what we believe will help these children to succeed in the future."

The announcement that the school is set to open in Tooting has been welcomed by the council's education spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey, who said: "This is exciting news for Tooting and will ensure that parents have even greater choice when it comes to selecting a secondary school for their children."

The school is named after a teacher who passed away earlier this year, who was valued and respected for her "old-school values".

According to one former pupil, she was "an excellent teacher, truly interested in academic success, unperturbed by the storms of modern-day educational reform. She embodied traditional, disciplinarian attitudes, giving us boundaries in which to be creative and revolutionary".


December 12, 2011