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EXCLUSIVE: Central City Primary School To Go Ahead

Good news for Central Manchester as educational initiative attracts enough families to proceed

Published on February 24th 2012.

EXCLUSIVE: Central City Primary School To Go Ahead

A SCHEME for a free school in the New Islington area of Ancoats are going ahead as planned after gaining support from 194 families when a minimum 60 expressions of interest were needed. 

We are particularly interested to hear from those who travel into the City Centre each day and wish to have a place for their children in a city schoo

New Islington School (the site is shown in the picture below) needed 60 families from the catchment area to register their interest by today, Friday 24 February. As Confidential reported last month they were at that time less than halfway to their target. 

However a surge in responses saw them submit their bid to the Department for Education (DfE) this morning. If approved, it will mean the primary school could open its doors as early as September 2013.  

Initial intake at the school will be 120, with 30 children per class, since 104 of the responses were from families with children in the right age range. Of the other expresions of interest, a further 51 respondents said they intended to start a family and the presence of New Islington Free School would influence their decision about remaining in the area.

Stuart Leeming, Deputy High Master at The Manchester Grammar School, which teamed up with developers Urban Splash to prepare the bid, said: “The New Islington Free School team has been delighted with the response from families in the area who have been signing up for places at the school for their children. 

“The school hopes to open with classes from Reception to Year 3 in the first instance and we now have enough children registered to be able to submit our bid to the DfE on schedule.” 

The news comes as a relief following concerns that plans for the school, which will be open to boys and girls, would have to be delayed by a year if there wasn’t sufficient interest.

Tom Bloxham MBE, Chairman of Urban Splash, said: “I've long had an ambition to build a new primary school in New Islington. We've already delivered hundreds of homes, workplaces, a clinic, a park and a marina and are now delighted to be making real progress towards building an inner city free school in New Islington. 

“I hope the school will be a great asset to residents of both the city centre and East Manchester and will combine the academic ambitions of MGS with our own ambition of turning New Islington into one of the very best areas of Manchester. Much work is still to be done but we look forward to working with MGS and the City Council to create what I hope will be one of the best free primary schools in the city." 

As a free school, New Islington School will receive its funding directly from central government, meaning it falls outside local authority control and will be run by a specially appointed Board of Governors. 

Mr Leeming said: “Parents can continue to register for places through the website at newislingtonschool.com and we are particularly interested to hear from those who travel into the City Centre each day and wish to have a place for their children in a city school.”

Confidential thinks that in a city centre devoid of an adequate family infrastructure at present, the addition of this high calibre educational establishment will boost the sellability of family life in general. It's a morale boost for inner-urban living. 

Central Library 005Site of the new school

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37 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Georgina Hague shared this on Facebook on February 24th 2012.
AnonymousFebruary 24th 2012.

This is great news for the area and will help to create a 'proper' community, not just a load of new flats and some sh*te chain resturants.

Exclusive EducationFebruary 24th 2012.

How depressing.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Calum McGFebruary 24th 2012.


Mark GarnerFebruary 26th 2012.

Rarely do I comment, but what a stupid comment the one above is. Stupid.

Greg LapsonFebruary 24th 2012.

Exclusive Education why so depressed? This is great news for the city centre. Perhaps you are also against streaming in schools as well? It must be an awful disappointment to you that the world is not fair and that people have different abilities.

But worse of all is your assumption that this free school will discriminate against presumably people on lower incomes. Nowhere is that stated. It's a school for everybody. It's also a school that's desperately needed in the central areas.

All that class war shit gets so boring. Well done to everyone involved with this.

Victoria HandFebruary 24th 2012.

Great news.

Kevin PeelFebruary 24th 2012.

Very pleased to see they got the required number of regstrations of interest. A school serving city centre families has long been a goal of mine and I am backing this project 100%.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Exclusive EducationFebruary 25th 2012.

So - you are pleased for this Gove championed idea to go ahead Kevin? You are pleased by the idea of a private, profit motivated property developer and a selective, fee paying Grammar School running a school in one of the poorest wards in the city?
You are pleased that £600m (half of the DofE budget) is being spent by the Government on just 100 free schools? Are you pleased that free schools can 'be creative' with working conditions, union rights and pay for the staff? Are you pleased that this free school can set its own admissions policy? Are you pleased the Governing Body will be selected by the sponsors? You pleased that 'the sponsors' have explicitly said "we are particularly interested to hear from those who travel into the City Centre each day and wish to have a place for their children in a city school" - the implication being that they arent particularly interested in serving the needs of local children or these 'city centre families' you speak of but more interested in affluent suburban commuters ? Are you pleased that Free Schools are widely apposed by Teachers, Heads,unions and parent groups? You are aware that there are already two primary schools within less than a mile of this proposed school already serving the community very well?
Im glad you a backing this mean, divisive and potentially dangerous Tory policy 100%.
Im glad you are backing this 100% when there is an acute shortage of places in primary schools across the rest of Manchester. Im glad you are backing Urban Splash 100% in getting to sell more of their flats and im glad you are backing 100% the middle class parents who are too scared to send their little angels to Park View Community School just in case they have to mix with some of those Miles Platting types.
Good for you.

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2012.

Well put, Exclusive Education. I live in the immediate area around the proposed new school and, while I welcome the development of the community's infrastructure, 'regenerating'-out the local community in Ancoats and Miles Platting, and contributing to the new social geography which increasingly segregates rich and poor in contemporary Britain is the real ethos behind the misleadingly-named, Conservative-endorsed 'free' school. Those who derisively dismiss such concerns as 'class war' should take a closer look at the manifold ways in which 'class' (though rarely named as such) informs urban planning and social policy.

Andrea McCabeFebruary 25th 2012.

Get the chip off your shoulder. It's a school in an area that needs a school.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Exclusive EducationFebruary 25th 2012.

There are already two schools in the area. I cant vouch for St Anne's but Park View Community is a lovely school. Its the people who dont want to send their children to these particular schools who have the chip on their shoulder.

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2012.

If only education funding policy was that simple, AM. This is more about political ideology and social engineering than an area 'needing' a school.

This is not exclusive but this is...February 25th 2012.

Exclusive Education and Anonymous are you really calling this exclusive when we still have state-sponsored, tax funded religious schools. If you want exclusive then try as a non-religious person, C of E person or maybe Muslim to get into the local Roman Catholice school or a Jewish school or vice versa, try and be one of their governors if you're not of 'the Faith'. That is exclusive education and based unjustly on an accident of birth. It is a situation that is longer tolerated in any other government body or company.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Exclusive EducationFebruary 25th 2012.

I agree. Schools admission policy should not discriminate on any grounds and Governing Bodies should be drawn from wide and representative section of the community.
I think state-funded Faith Schools are wrong - as are state-funded Free Schools.

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2012.

This is a new defiinition of the City Centre.... Welcome Ancoats residents to the City Centre. But is is explained it is child care provision this is aimed at commuters not the local community. There is nothing wrong with this of course, and no doubt it will develop into a full 0-11 provision. I am not quite sure why I as a taxpayer should pay for it.

HarryFebruary 25th 2012.

But it's ok to pay for religious schools?

MancAdam85February 25th 2012.

The City Centre is the turf of the yuppie, the singleton, the young couple... there's a big reason we don't live in the suburbs. Stick to your own patch!

MancAdam85February 25th 2012.

Exclusive Education - 'Schools admission policy should not discriminate on any grounds' - apart from ability...

DavidFebruary 25th 2012.

Better if Manchester City Council have nothing to do with any school in the city,judging by the city terible education record.Labour and their friends in the unions deliberately used education as an instrument of a failed social engineering police,that doomed inner city kids to sink schools.All schools of course that they were not willing to send their own kids to.Working class people are not stupid,they see through the likes of Harriet Harman,Diana Abbott and their hypocrisy.

It not surprising that most of the well paid jobs in the city,and at new developments like Media City, go to middle class outsiders and not from poorer areas of Manchester,when the standard of education in most Manchester schools is garbage.This is not just about money either.Its about failed teaching methods and teachers who cannot motivate and control classrooms.

The decline of social mobility in this country is a disgrace.The gramer school system was not perfect,but it did give opportunity for people to succeed in life.Its no coincidence that since then politics has become more dominated by those with private education.Both Blair and Cameron being examples.

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2012.

Adam - the thing is that yuppies grow up and singletons meet other singletons and become parents. You need the infrastructure of schools and other things like doctors and dentists.

ShuttyFebruary 25th 2012.

Agree whole-heartedly with the point about creating family facilities in the city centre and surrounding areas. I've just had some frustration when trying to assist a dentist practice to move in to a suburb very close (2/3miles) to the city centre, only to be told that permission would not be granted.

This is in a suburb south of the city centre that the council are supposedly trying to make family friendly. Surely a dentist is something that families use/need/require!? The rationale being that the council did not want businesses amongst residential properties, however this would have been on the corner of two busy arterial routes, with businesses on two of the other corners.

Sorry to rant, but I had to get I off my chest as it's a long-standing bug-bear for the city centre and I know that some of the senior MCCouncillors read this website. So if you're reading, you may wish to have a re-think, or at least try to apply some common-sense, to what is a fairly good idea in principle.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 27th 2012.

A shocking anecdote Shutty that says everything about the state of planning in this country. Planning has sadly been reduced to little more than Development Control and risks being reduced further with the current government's proposed reforms.

More than half a century on from Jane Jacobs, yet planners, councillors and many developers still don't seem to understand the many economic and social benefits that dense, compact and mixed use neighbourhoods bring. Who wants to live with an outlook onto a busy noisy road anyway? Who wants to be forced to travel a long distance to access essential services?

It should be enshrined within local planning documents that busy arterial routes should be lined with office, retail or live-work units at ground floor. We will have safer, lively streets, more wealth retained locally, greater opportunities for self employment, greater community cohesion, less need for travel, more informal policing, better street scene and fewer ground floor units that offer a miserable outlook and quality of life for their unfortunate inhabitants.

It really is a win-win situation - absolutely astounded that the council would wish to discourage a mixed use character in what I assume is a dense neighbourhood where mixed use is almost an imperative.

AnonymousFebruary 26th 2012.

MCC councillors "spy" on here Shutty tis true, its not a bad thing though because they see that we are not all back patting passive labour types. Kevin Peel is after votes isnt he though, so he'll support anything that appears on the outside to be good for the community....especially in the run up to elections!! The good ol' PR game. That aside, its an important point the article raises, as this "free school" especially being supported by MGS could either be groundbreaking for local kids who may then get to see how the other half live? especially who they wouldnt normally mix with, let alone sit next to in a classroom! (reminds me of socio economic style apartheid!) namely the socially housed poorer black/white/other skint, unemployed, NEET folks. This, if done correctly could be a way of turning around the class division in the city where apartments increasingly are built alongside social housing, and in doing so by then placing "posher" schools in poorer areas, it could become a valubable social experiment and a prototype for other cities to follow (leaders take note). It would go some way i suppose to help the breakdown of the have/have not divide which we see up at national level at the moment, so in a sense it could be a pioneering social experiment. It could also be a disaster for the local indigenous folk who really need a break and a way out for their kids, who are likely to be trapped in the spiral of debt and poverty through no fault of their own. Do you think London publicly school educated Mr Bloxham and pals wants "their lot" mixing with local kids? Im not so sure, but it will be interesting to see outcomes of both the selection process (of which there should be none other than immediate radius catchment and names drawn from a hat!) and the board of governors chosen - will it be a 50/50 mix of locals and blow ins? ...i'll be watching very carefully. We live in a crowded city, lets have more different classes understanding each other and integrating and learning from each other. I just hope that there is a leaflet drop too inviting people from all over Miles Platting and Ancoats etc from all backgrounds to an open meeting where 50% of the children should come from social housing and 50% from the New Islington area? What do you think Mr Bloxham?

Leeming should also NOT have said "we are particularly interested to hear from those who travel into the City Centre each day and wish to have a place for their children in a city school.” this is the attitude that worries me......

AnonymousFebruary 26th 2012.

David, gramer is spelt "grammar" lol another case why we need more free schools MCC is failing its pupils standards have slipped and attitudes towards discipline. It shows all too well in this city. Not good when we always seem to put prestige above ability. Bling before brains not great for kids future career prospects. I wonder if Manchester is the thickest local authority? We may get a gold medal eh?!

DavidFebruary 26th 2012.

Every working class person who succeeds in life,would do for their kids what Tom Bloxham middle class parents,we're able to do for him.

The current system will never work.It just disadvantages the people it is supposed to be helping.The middle classes can either buy private education or work the state system better than working class people,so their kids get entry to the best state schools.You cannot stop private education either,as that would break European law.

Facts and QuestionsFebruary 26th 2012.

Yes, ‘Exclusive’ points out, there are schools in the wider Ancoats Miles Platting area, including Park View. However it was not noted that in the immediate area around Park View School 1500 homes are being reconditioned and a further 1000 new homes are being built with the majority 2 and 3 bedroom homes aimed at families. Couple this with the recent planning applications in New Islington focusing on house building rather than flats and it is clear the area will need a new school as child numbers grow.
Obviously a publication like Manchester Confidential that aims much of its content to young city centre workers, there has been much made of the benefits to them. However simply reading the admissions policy shows that 30% of places go to city centre workers’ children. 70% goes to residents in a diverse area taking in some of the existing estates.

The Area A and B on the admissions map contains areas of the traditional Ancoats community to Every and Butler St.
It is of interest whether any of the above opponents attended any meetings at the various resident associations and Ancoats Medical Centre. If they debated the political points at the local area shops where supporting posters were hung?

Did they try and persuade the mums and dads from these traditionally working class areas that they should curb their support for a new school in solidarity against what the above contributors label as posh yuppies etc? Is it the argument that a child in Weybridge Road should be denied a school at their door step because others see it as part of a perceived grand Tory Middle class conspiracy? Should that child then see the school built elsewhere....but be thankful that they helped strike a blow...... against what... ?

It may help to read the admission policy here:

Eva LaiFebruary 27th 2012.

I don't see why people are upset about this. I have recently had a little girl and would love to send her to a school near by. We also live in the city centre and are young professionals. So are many couples we have met who have children. So its not only singletons and yound people live in the city. There are many middle aged couples and young couples who are married and have children like ourselves.

I have personally been educated in both private and state system. Then went on to University, so did my other half. There is nothing wrong with private schools or state schools. The only issue is teachers are no longer paying enough attentions to the children, and help them to achieve their potential.

Every child should get the opportunity to go to school and be educated either through a private school or state school. So why would you want to object having schools open? More and more children are born everyday and if there is not enough school in an area, how do you expect them to go to school and be educated? Many parents do not want to send their school to far away because of the duration of travel. Its tiring for working parents as well as children. If the school is already in a community, then everyone knows each other. Isn't that better?

Also MGS has a good reputation and their students all do very well academically. So why would you object if they are the ones who will be monitoring the students progress? Also for those parents who would love to send their children to a private school because they have a good reputation but due to the costs, they can't avoid to send them. So if there is a free school, monitored by a gramma school to ensure high achievement, then why not give the children a chance.

Its the children that matters, not us. Why deny their right to be well educated and become a well achievers! That way, the future generation will be better off in many ways. So we should be thinking about the children!

Andy DoorFebruary 27th 2012.

Having been poorly educated in a Roman Catholic School that was still caning kids into the eighties ( Me being one of them). i was fourtunate to mix with kids from the so called middle class in my social time as a teenager, this helped me see that the future is education, so after leaving school i worked and put myself through a access course and then a Hnd. If only i had seen this earlier in life who knows what might have happened. in brief i belive a mix of social class helps motivate and encourage kids to learn as a way to improve there position in society.

David MooresFebruary 27th 2012.

'Anonymous' replies to 'David' criticising his mis-spelling of 'grammar' as if that is a justification of so-called 'free schools'.
OK - what's good for the goose ...... 'Another' should have a capital 'A' as the start of a sentence and a full stop is needed after'schools'. A full stop is needed after 'pupils' and a capital letter for 'Standards'. This sentence is also incomplete - 'and attitudes towards discipline' are ....what?
'Bling before brains' should be followed by the word 'is' and 'kids' should have an apostrophe after the letter 's'.
Finally there should be a comma between 'medal' and 'eh?' which should not be followed by both a question mark and an exclamation mark.
This standard of English written by a supporter of a free school would not be acceptible in the local authority primary school in which I teach.

AnonymousFebruary 28th 2012.

Just to throw the following news article from Manchester University into the mix here.


"Researchers back Gove school reforms

16 Jan 2012

A landmark study of English secondary schools has backed Government education reforms – but with strong caveats.

The team of education experts from The University of Manchester who carried out the research, say elements of the Education Secretary’s reforms that support greater school autonomy, encourage partnerships and establish national teaching schools are encouraging.

However, without proper regulation of the emerging education market, warn the team, the gains are likely to unravel, putting some children’s prospects on the line.

Without some form of local coordination, they say, poor attainment and attendance among some groups, segregation of some ethnic minority students, and difficulties in teacher recruitment in schools facing challenging circumstances are all likely to continue."

[article continues]


AnonymousFebruary 28th 2012.

David Moores i was just making the point, relax! I was being ironically pedantic mate. Go finish marking some crappy G.C.S.E coursework.

1 Response: Reply To This...
David MooresFebruary 28th 2012.

Anonymous - I was also being ironically pedantic mate. Just making the point that the education provided in state primary schools, to ALL children, is just as good, if not better, than that provided in so called free schools. For 'free' read 'exclusive'. . . .

AnonymousFebruary 28th 2012.

Agree with Andy Doors' comment actually working class kids should be exposed to the middle classes its when you ask the middle classes to expose their kids to the working classes they seem to have a problem? Just going off past experience thats all. Lets raise levels for all not stoop to accommodate the less able? Thats the problem with state schools, the constant "just doing enough to scrape by" concept, rather than let kids reach for the skies and encourage more developed thinking.

Anonymous2February 29th 2012.

No matter what the case for an individual free school, this is a policy designed to open up state schooling to the private sector who are desperate to find other ways to make profits off the back of public money. Its happening now. Read the news. Look at the debates in the US about Charter Schools - scary stuff. Any child with any additional need (like my own) has no chance in this system. Labour locally and nationally have been so limp on this issue, especially when compared to the NHS reforms - but is exactly the same stuff.

Its depressing that some contributors to this string condemn everything about state education. This is rank ignorance. Sure it needs improving but to say its all bad is a kick in the teeth to very successful schools, teachers, pupils and those of us volunteering as Governors and in other roles to help make a difference.

ChorltongalFebruary 29th 2012.

Totally agree with annoymous and Andy Doors. There should be a 60/40 ratio of middle class kids/working class kids. The bias being on greater number of middle class kids as children generally lean towards the behaviour of 'what all the other kids are doing'. Its a fact of life that middle class kids, generally speaking, do better in life than working class with their better educated parents and social boundaries. There are exceptions to every rule of course but no one can argue with this logic. I moved out of the city centre to the suburbs as there is simply not enough space/infrastructure to start a family in the city. With provisions like this, I may have stayed. Who cares about the developer or the reasons behind creating this school. Fact is, its a school being built for City Centre residents, mentored by a wonderful institution in MGS and will hopefully open the eyes and ears of some underprivileged kids who otherwise would not have exposure to 'another way of life'.

cities@manchesterMarch 8th 2012.

There's an event at Anthony Burgess Foundation on Tuesday 13 March all about this topic - citiesmcr.wordpress.com/…/…

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