OpinioN8

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Why was the Steiner School Bid for the old Ashmount Site rejected

One of the things that has started to come up is the interesting point that there were TWO competing Bids to set up a Free School on the old Ashmount site. Bellevue Place Ltd won this competition defeating the bid from a group of parents who wanted to set up a Steiner School. Why did the Steiner bid fail?

The Steiner Bid  was led by parents and teachers at the fee paying Steiner primary in Hornsey. (The plan was, if they had succeeded to move that school to be  the  primary section of the new, all through Steiner School on the Ashmount Site.) As such, surely it was just the sort of group that the Free School idea was set up to support was it not? And the DFE has no problem with Steiner in view of the other Steiner Schools it has approved.

The Steiner Free School was to be all through, age 4 to 19, so they cannot have been planning for more than one form entry, possibly less than thirty at that. At the moment in London there is no secondary steiner provision at all, with a few fee paying, private, Steiner schools. The Hornsey School's  existence already demonstrates  prior core demand. Steiner people tend to be very committed, not that well heeled, and so greatly welcome being able to have state funded Steiner provision, rather than having to pay for it as they usually do. This school would have drawn support from Steiner adherents at least from all over London. There are millions of people living within a 45 minute commute by public transport, London is like that, and no doubt Steiner families would have chosen to move into the general area as well.

I have no doubt they would have filled their places, and also that they would have had no impact on recruitment on local schools as Steiner people are such a minority, and the school small in numbers anyway. (As both bidders were planning to refurbish the existing old Ashmount building they are the same in that regard. And, I would say, are, on that point, both equally misguided)

However on getting "evidence of demand" they left nothing to chance.

You see they made a really big effort. They had a stall down at Crouch End Broadway several saturdays running, distributing leaflets, talking to anyone, who like me, wanted to know more. They handed out leaflets on several occasions to commuters leaving Archway and Highgate tubes in the evening, and leafleted through the doors of the area local to the proposed site. There were leaflets in the local libraries and good, local press coverage. Bellevue did NONE of this at all. Despite what they say on their web site they never did go out on the streets. 

So what did Bellevue have they did not?

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