West London Free School Opens in Hammersmith

With Hammersmith Academy and ARK Conway to follow

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West London Free School has become the first of Hammersmith and Fulham's controversial free schools to open on Wednesday, September 7.

It will be followed on September 15 by ARK Conway primary in Shepherd's Bush on Thursday September 15. 

Also in Shepherd's Bush, the newly built Hammersmith Academy will open tomorrow, Thursday September 8.

The high profile West London Free School, which has been set up by a group of parents led by writer Toby Young, is beginning with 120 year seven pupils. The school says this will gradually build up to 840.

The school is temporarily based in Hammersmith's Cambridge Grove, but intends to move to Palingswick House in King Street once the building has been prepared for its use. This however has angered the 23 community groups currently In Palingswick House, who are now campaigning against their removal.

West London Free School, whose head Tom Packer is pictured here with some of the school's pupils, says it will offer a classical curriculum, and will also specialise in music. Latin will be compulsory subject for all pupils up to the age of 14.

ARK Conway school is opening in the former Wormholt Library with 30 pupils at reception level. This "non-selective, non-denominational one form entry Primary Academy" will build up to a total of 210 four to 11 year-olds.

Hammersmith Academy is opening in a brand new building in Cathnor Road, W12 with an intake of 120 students in Year 7 and 120 students in Year 12. It will grow to its planned full complement of 780 students in September 2015.

The Hammersmith Academy is a specialist secondary school, which focuses on Creative & Digital Media and IT. It is sponsored by two City of Livery Companies, The Worshipful Company of Mercers and The Information Technologists Company.

Another free primary school, Rivendale, is aiming to open in September 12 and though it has not yet found suitable premises, is now accepting applications from parents with children born on or after September 1, 2007. For more information email enquiries@therivendale.org.

In Fulham, meanwhile, a group of parents is working to establish a new Church of England secondary school for boys in Fulham, opening in September 2012 with a first intake of 120 pupils. Again, the school has not found suitable premises, though the parents say that Fulham Town Hall, which Hammersmith and Fulham Council has put up for sale, is one site under consideration.

Cllr Helen Binmore ,Hammersmith and Fulham cabinet member for children’s services, says: " This is an exciting time for education in Hammersmith & Fulham and we are thrilled to see more parents choosing to educate their children locally in the borough.

" By embracing new exciting projects, such as the free schools and academies, we are continuing to extend parental choice and offer our children the best possible educational opportunities and start in life."

All these new schools are holding open days for parents interested in applying for places their children in September 2012.

West London Free School has three open days for parents of children in Year 6: Wednesday, September 21 from 6pm to 8pm; Monday, September 26, 4.30pm to 6pm and Friday, 30th September 30, from 2pm to 4.30pm. Parents are asked to try and arrive at the beginning of each session. 

Hammersmith Academy holding its open days on October 10, 4.45pm to 8pm (by appointment only), October 12, 9am to 11am (by appointment only) and October 13, 9a to 11am.

ARK Conway's open days are on Monday  October 17 at 9.30am; Tuesday  November 8, 9.30am; Monday  January 9, 9.30am and 6pm.


September 7, 2011