Elliott ‘delighted’ by minister’s go-ahead

Published: Tuesday 24th July 12

Plans to improve and modernise Putney’s Elliott School have moved a step closer following a decision by education ministers.

A key element of the proposal to refurbish the school has now been given the green light by Schools Minister Lord Hill.

He has given consent under Section 77 of the School Standards and Framework Act for the disposal of an area of land at the school to raise funds for the school's improvements.

The refurbishment plans, which are being drawn up by council education officials in partnership with the school's headteacher and governors, education charity ARK Schools and in consultation with Elliott parents, are for a major upgrade of classrooms and other teaching facilities.

The proposals involve a major remodelling of internal areas to create brighter and more spacious classrooms and flexible areas for small group learning. They would also deliver better IT systems and specialist learning facilities.

Under the proposals, the school's sports facilities would be remodelled and the external space landscaped to provide informal play areas and new sports courts.

Last month, a revised set of plans that reduced the amount of land required for disposal was agreed by the council. This would retain more of the site for education and recreational use, including important features like its outdoor amphitheatre.

Elliott's headteacher Mark Phillips said: "I believe that these ambitious plans represent the only realistic way to fund the work that is essential to improve the school. Our aim is to restore and refurbish the school for future generations of local children.

"I am absolutely delighted that this process is now moving forward for the benefit of our students. If the plans are approved, they will gain from an amazing new school building with the latest modern facilities and with plenty of outdoor space for sport and to socialise."

Wandsworth's cabinet member for education Cllr Kathy Tracey said: "This is important news for Elliott's existing students and also for the parents of younger children in the area who may soon have the opportunity of attending this modernised and upgraded school.

"Throughout this whole process our overriding aim has been to secure the long-term future of the school. This is a school with an inspirational headteacher and amazingly dedicated staff - they deserve the best school buildings and facilities we can give them.

"We have the overwhelming support of the school's governors, headteacher and parents to now move forward with providing children and young people in Putney with a bright, modern, first class school that's fit for the 21st Century."

The proposal to dispose of the land to fund the improvements is expected to be considered by councillors at the August 21 meeting of the finance and corporate resources overview and scrutiny committee. The final decision will then be taken by the council's executive.

Any proposed changes or alterations to the school's listed buildings would be the subject of close consultation with English Heritage, and subject to normal planning procedures.

From September, education charity ARK Schools plan to take over the running of the school and reopen it as an academy.

The new ARK Putney Academy will be a non-denominational, non-selective school open to all local children. Mr Phillips, who has already overseen significant improvements in teaching, learning and pupil achievement, will continue as its principal.

The school has seen a dramatic improvement in performance over the past three years with a near 20 per cent increase in the number of pupils achieving five or more A* to C grades at GCSE, including for English and maths.

The council is currently spending many millions of pounds on improving local schools, providing extra places in some of the borough's best performing and most popular ones and also on setting up new schools to give parents even greater choice when it comes to the education of their children.

Around £10m is being spent this year alone on providing additional school places this September and also in 2013, while new primary schools are planned in Putney and Tooting. A brand new free school, the Bolingbroke Academy will be admitting its first 120 Year 7 pupils this September.

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