|Ark Putney Academy|
FAQ's & the answers from the council
Are you knocking down Elliott School?
No, we will be renovating this important, grade II listed building. We are proposing to dispose of the redundant sixth former centre and caretaker's cottage. The proposal may also potentially include demolishing the existing gym and technology block, however these proposals will be subject to consultation with English Heritage and other interested groups.
Why does the building need such extensive remodelling?
The building still has many of its original elements, including the materials installed when it was first built. Many of these materials have now reached the end of their life, so repair and renewal of the building fabric is urgently needed. Some of the cladding and windows are insecure, there are constant heating, cooling and ventilation problems, buildings are wheelchair inaccessible and do not meet modern health and safety standards and the whole school is tatty and worn out. The gym block also has a leaky roof and gyms are unsuitable for modern use.
Why are you selling off the playing fields?
We are not selling all of the land. We are considering two proposals, and both will leave the site with more than the minimum recommended external space for a secondary school of its size, including a new Multi Use Games Area. Elliott currently does not have its own sports pitches, but uses off-site playing fields. This will continue.
The council's found money for schools on the Putney Hospital and Bolingbroke sites. Why not this one?
Wandsworth Council is only meeting a small proportion of the cost of the proposed Putney Hospital building with the remainder being funded by the sale of land for residential use. The construction and conversion costs for the Bolingbroke Academy site are being met by government grant through the free schools programme.
Will it be turned into a private school?
No, the ARK Putney Academy is being run by the education charity ARK and will be a non-selective academy. This means it will not be under local authority control, but will be in the state sector and open to all local children. Admissions will be through the usual Wandsworth Council admissions process.
Will flats be built on the land?
The site has yet to be marketed, so it's too soon to say what will be built, but the council will ensure nothing receives planning permission unless it is high-quality residential development that is in keeping with the area.
Why is the land being marketed for sale now?
The proposed surplus land is being marketed to determine the funding that can be generated to pay for the renovation works to the School building. The results of this marketing will then be known at the same time as the results of the section 77 application process and will confirm if the project can progress.
Is this a done deal?
No, the council, ARK Schools and the Elliott Trust will be consulting at every step, including the Section 77 application to change the use of the playing field, the erection of temporary buildings, the work to the school and the residential planning application.
We will be talking to local people and other interested parties and will take their views on board.
What's ARK Schools' involvement?
In parallel with the discussions over the school buildings, the governors of Elliott School have decided that the school will become an academy, run by ARK Schools, this September. The new academy will be called ARK Putney Academy . It will be publicly funded in the same way as other maintained schools, but run by ARK Schools rather than the local authority.
ARK Schools is an academy operator founded in 2004 to create a network of exceptional, non-selective inner-city schools through the academies programme. ARK Schools currently runs 11 academies in London , Birmingham and Portsmouth . By creating a culture of aspiration, motivation and achievement and providing outstanding teaching and leadership, ARK aims to ensure that all pupils leave school with a real choice at 18: to go on to higher education or to enter a career of their choice. ARK Schools has no religious affiliation and is committed to comprehensive education.
What is ARK 's track record?
ARK Schools has a track record as a high achieving academy sponsor which was recognised when it was named School Operator of the Year in the Education Investor Awards 2011. Seven of the eight ARK academies that have been inspected by Ofsted have been rated good or outstanding. These include both newly opened academies and academies which have taken over from an existing school.
· ARK 's five schools with GCSE results have improved by an average of 10.5 percentage points each year since opening.
· At GCSE, 61% of ARK pupils achieved at least five A*-C grades including English and maths in 2011 (national level - 58%). In 2011 ARK pupils exceeded national GCSE attainment in both English and maths.
Once the building project is complete, ARK will sign a 125-year lease, at a peppercorn rent, with the local authority for the land and buildings. ARK has a full repairing obligation on the buildings to maintain them in the condition in which they are handed over. However academies are not funded to pay rent to the freeholder of the land.
Can ARK pay for the refurbishment works?
All ARK academies are funded to the same formula as equivalent maintained schools in a particular local area. In addition to this funding, ARK undertakes charitable fundraising for specific programmes to support its schools, such as additional music and enrichment programmes for example. However, ARK is not able to fundraise at the scale required to refurbish Elliott's buildings.
March 30, 2012