Update: Year delay to Romford’s first free school announced just weeks before opening
15:12 15 August 2014
The opening of Romford’s first free school - due in three weeks - has been delayed by a year leaving the desperate parents of more than 40 children scrambling for places.
The Oasis Academy was without a school building with just weeks to go and as recently as yesterday its spokesman insisted that it would open in September as planned.
This morning the shambolic primary school announced that its opening would be postponed but would not reveal how long for.
But, moments ago, the council confirmed that the school has “deferred” its opening until September 2015 leaving Havering officials seeking alternative places for more than 40 children.
The school is due to open in a permanent site, the former Oldchurch Hospital, in Waterloo Road, but that will not be ready for up to two years.
It instead has been searching for a temporary site. It had arranged to open in the grounds of Romford YMCA, in Rush Green Road, but the plans slipped away last week.
The school, owned by Oasis Community Learning, refused to reveal to the Recorder where the latest temporary site was.
But today the spokesman said that the site’s owners pulled out “at the last minute” because the deal was not “commercially viable” for them.
The council’s schools chief, Cllr Meg Davis, said: “We are sorry that, despite the best efforts of the Council and Oasis, the Oasis Academy in Romford will not be opening in September as originally planned. The new free school has decided to defer its opening until September 2015.
“Parents can be reassured that we are already seeking alternative schools for these children to go to in September so that their children can have a good start to their education.”
School staff had been “diligently” searching for a new site, a spokesman said, but they found no other sites within an acceptable distance from the Oldchurch Hospital site.
“We therefore have no choice but to postpone the opening of the academy rather than to launch it in sub-standard conditions,” he said.
There has also been confusion over the number of students due to attend the school.
A spokesman earlier this week claimed that up to 130 children would be joining in September but today a colleague adjusted the figure to 41. The council confirmed 43 students were due.
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