Ark Putney Academy
Answers to your questions
Why does the building need extensive remodelling?
The building still has many of its original elements, including the materials installed when it was first built. Many of these materials have now reached the end of their life, so repair and renewal of the building fabric is urgently needed.
Some of the cladding and windows are insecure, there are constant heating, cooling and ventilation problems, buildings are wheelchair inaccessible and do not meet modern health and safety standards and the whole school is tatty and worn out.
The gym block also has a leaky roof and gyms are unsuitable for modern use.
Why can't the Government pay for the refurbishment?
The Government originally had proposals to pay for the refurbishment under its previous Building Schools for the Future investment programme.
However, this was cancelled as a result of the worsening national economic situation. There is currently no source of Government funding available.
Why can't the council borrow the money or put up council tax to pay for it?
The council is contributing towards the cost of the renovations (in the region of £5 million) but cannot afford to pay all of the costs.
If the council decided to borrow the money we would have to pay an estimated £2.7 million a year in debt repayment charges which would either mean
(a) a borough-wide referendum would be needed to increase council tax beyond 5 per cent or
(b) likely significant reductions in frontline services at a time when the council already has to save in excess of £70million over the next three years.
Why can't the council sell the Putney Hospital site for residential development and relocate the planned primary school on that site to Elliott instead?
The main reason for proposing to build a primary school on the Putney Hospital site is because of local demand in that area. Information on birth rates shows that a new primary school is needed in Thamesfield ward. The recent Census figures revealed a significant increase in under 5s in this area.
If a primary school was located on the Elliott site it would be some distance from where it is really needed. If the site was sold for residential use, then the proceeds would be shared with the NHS - thus not giving us the level of proceeds needed to fund the school.
Why is the school a listed building?
The proposals take too much land
Following the consultation the council has reduced the area for disposal from 18,755 square metres to 15,071.
What would happen if the sale of the land did not happen - is there a 'Plan B'?
It is extremely difficult to see any alternative proposals given the financial situation the Government and all local authorities find themselves in. The school's long term future is dependent on resources being found to renovate the school.
Disposing of part of the site is the only viable source of funding or the school would face closure and eventually the whole site could be sold for development.
What kind of private development would there be on the area that is sold?
Conditional contracts have been exchanged for the sale of the land to Barratts London who will be consulting on the development of their proposals for the site.
The council wants any development to respect the amenity of the surrounding residential buildings and the setting of the listed building.
Any proposals that emerge would be subject to the full planning application process in consultation with local residents.
Why was the school allowed to get in such a state of disrepair?
The school was grant maintained for around ten years, hence it was the responsibility of the Government to fund. However, Wandsworth Council took back responsibility for major repairs during the late 1990s when the school was given foundation status.
The council has spent around £4 million on maintenance, renewing the roof of the main building and the assembly hall, while carrying out structural and glazing repairs.
However the fabric of the school buildings have continued to deteriorate to the extent where only significant and costly renovation will secure the future of the buildings and the school.
How do we know that the renovation will be enough?
The planned renovation has been worked out in detail and would secure the school's future for generations to come.
What is ARK Schools?
ARK Schools is an academy operator founded in 2004 to create a network of exceptional, non-selective schools through the academies programme. ARK Schools currently runs 11 academies in London, Birmingham and Portsmouth.
By creating a culture of aspiration, motivation and achievement and providing outstanding teaching and leadership, ARK aims to ensure that all pupils leave school with a real choice at 18; to go on to higher education or to enter a career of their choice.
ARK Schools has no religious affiliation and is committed to comprehensive education.
Can ARK pay for the refurbishment works?
All ARK academies are funded to the same formula as equivalent maintained schools in a particular local area. In addition to this funding, ARK undertakes charitable fundraising for specific programmes to support its schools, such as additional music and enrichment programmes for example. However, ARK is not able to fundraise at the scale required to refurbish the school's buildings.
Once Elliott became an academy, the land on which it sits transferred back to the ownership of the local authority. During the refurbishment period the academy will occupy the site under a license from the local authority.