Former Oldchurch Hospital site announced as location for Havering’s first free school, Oasis Academy Romford

Claire McAslan

Claire McAslan - Credit: Archant

Havering’s first free school will be based on the site of the former Oldchurch Hospital in Romford, it has been announced.

The government is now trying to hammer out a deal with Taylor Wimpey Homes, which owns the land, to allow it to buy the dilapidated former nurses’ accommodation block. It is not yet known whether the building will be refurbished or replaced.

Under new guidelines, Oasis Academy – which is run by the Oasis Community Learning charity – does not need planning permission to start building work.

The school has also appointed a head – Claire McAslan, who is now deputy head at Queensbridge Primary School in Hackney.

“I am thrilled to be joining Oasis as the principal designate of the new primary school in Romford,” she said. “I aim for this to be an outstanding school from day one.”

A spokesman said Oasis also intends to provide debt advice, a food bank, exercise classes and adult education from the same site.

The brochure for the development says the Oasis charities are “rooted in Christian values”, but the spokesman said the school would be secular.

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Founder Steve Chalke will be available to answer questions at two public meetings on November 28 at the Salvation Army in Romford High Street – between 4pm and 5pm, and between 6pm and 7pm.

John Murphy, national director of academies at Oasis Community Learning, said: “Claire has a passion to create an outstanding new primary school in the heart of Romford, working in partnership with Havering Council and the local family of schools in the area to offer children an excellent, innovative education.”

Oasis set its sights on Romford after Havering Council identified the town centre as among the areas most in need of primary school places.

Although it expects to admit 90 four- and five-year-olds in September, there is the option of adding an extra “bulge class” that would see 120 pupils in the school’s first year group.

As well as visiting the meetings, parents and residents can have their say about the proposals by visiting before January 3.