THE FIRST planned free school for Hackney has revealed plans for its site. Hackney New School (HNS) will occupy refurbished commercial buildings on an arterial road in De Beauvoir that is well-placed for public transport.
The school is due to open it doors in September this year 2013 to offer 100 places for Year 7 students in classes of up to 25 pupils. A Shoreditch firm of architects, Henley Halebrown Rorrison, has been appointed.
It has appointed former boarding school headmistress Lesley Falconer as head, and wants to promote the kind of educational values that the State system discarded in the late 1960s.
Free schools — state-funded but set up, then run, by parents, teachers or charities — are a key part of Education Secretary Michael Gove’s determination to reinstate many of those values.
As with free schools throughout the country, HNS has been criticised by established bodies, such as teachers’ and other unions. They have set up an Anti Academies Alliance, which describes itself as “a campaign composed of unions, parents, pupils, teachers, councillors and MPs”.
In a report on the latest HNS consultation, the alliance says that of 100 attenders, “only 3 or 4 were black”, among them Pauline Pearce, who achieved mild fame when she was filmed swearing at violent youths in Hackney during the August 2011 looting.
The “working class black woman and ex drug dealer”, as the alliance called her, told the meeting that most of the black people to whom she had mentioned HNS said it was going to be run by “the white middle class for the white middle class”.
Some observers may think that perhaps people with such impressive social analysis skills should be recruited by HNS, if not even by the Education Department.
Phillippa De’Ath (pictured), HNS programme director, commented: “HNS is a school open to everyone, and the first 100 students are a diverse group representing the entire community.” At the latest HNS consultation, attended by Loving Dalston, that was borne out by the variety of enquirers.
Hamish Scott 270313
* HNS, 1 Downham Road, De Beauvoir, Hackney N1 5AA
* Main photograph © DavidAltheer[at]gmail.com. Most photographs can be visually enlarged by pressing on them.
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