|Evangelical Group to Run New Putney Primary
Steve Chalke’s Oasis Community Learning to be academy sponsor
Wandsworth Council is planning to choose educational charity Oasis Community Learning to sponsor the new primary school to be built in Putney. It is anticipated that Oasis will be chosen as the preferred bidder from a short-list of six at the education and children's services overview and scrutiny committee meeting next week.
The Council say that Oasis was the country's most improved and fastest growing academy chain last year. At secondary level it saw a ten per cent increase in students achieving five-plus GCSEs at A*-C grade (including maths and English). By September this year it will be managing 36 academies across the country.
Its founder Steve Chalke MBE is a Baptist Minister who holds the world record for the largest amount of sponsorship money ever raised by an individual through a single event. He broke this record by raising £1.25 million for Oasis through sponsorship of his London Marathon run in 2005 and reclaimed the record in 2007 after it was broken by Sir Steve Redgrave. Oasis Community Learning is the sister charity of Oasis Trust that was set up in 1985 by Steve Chalke to support homeless young people. He is involved in a wide range of other charities and community initiatives.
The founder of Oasis Community Learning Steve Chalke said: "Our goal is to create an outstanding community primary school - Oasis Academy Putney - which will offer both an excellent education and many additional opportunities for pupils, their families and the wider community through our Oasis Hub model. Oasis is wholly committed to engaging with local Putney residents and community groups to develop our proposals."
Schools spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said: "We strongly believe that Oasis Community Learning would bring a great deal of expertise and knowledge and ensure the long term success of a new academy. "We are delighted to be submitting their name as our preferred choice to run a new primary school in this part of Putney. We think they will offer local parents a great new choice of school with a strong ethos on learning and achievement. “
Steve Chalke caused controversy in Christian evangelical circles by coming out in favour of monogamous same-sex relationships. He has argued from the point of the analysis of Bible texts that these relationships should be endorsed by his Church.
The proposed 420 pupil academy would be non-denominational and built on the site of the former Putney Hospital on Putney Common. The council's choice of academy provider must be submitted to the Department for Education which will make the final decision.
The Council say it is needed in this part of Putney to cater for rising pupil numbers. Demand for places has been growing in recent years partly because of the rapidly increasing birth rate. According to the latest population figures published by the Greater London Authority, the number of children being born in the borough rose from 4,359 in 2003 to 5,477 in 2011. The Council say that in addition improving results and the economic downturn are causing people to switch from private education.
The latest projections show that the borough will need around 24 additional classes by September 2020 to ensure there are enough places for local children. If the new primary school is granted planning permission, it would admit 60 pupils a year into two reception classes.
A planning application is due to be re-considered later this year which seeks permission for the construction of the new primary school on most of the old hospital site with 24 flats at the northern end of the site, on part of the land currently occupied by the derelict nurses' accommodation. The money generated by the flats would all be used to fund the building of the new school. Later this month the council is expected to consider the selection of the developer to build the proposed school and flats.
June 13, 2013