Haberdashers' present free school plans

Following the news that Haberdashers' Aske's is proposing to open a free primary school in the area, reader TH Nick has written this report from the public presentation (also posted on the New Cross forum), which they gave last night:

The plan is for the current Hatcham Temple Grove school (HTG) to move back to its original site for September 2013 (i.e. for start of the Free School).

The first Free School (FS) reception will then use the current (permanent) reception classrooms while new permanent blocks will be built in time for the class to move into.

People asked about amounts of free space: the current HTG pupils (and therefore the FS pupils when they move in) have the same amount of outside space now as they will have when they go back to old HTG site.
The current HTG site (and again, presumably the future FS site) apparently does not encroach on the main Haberdashers Askes part of the site, so there will not be an issue with crowding for secondary children.

Pupils will be taught in English and German using an "immersive method", as currently used in HTG. Example was that currently children have a morning doing numeracy etc in English, then will do the same topics in the afternoon but using German words. The theory being that learning the language should't be hard....

There were questions about what impact this might have on other local primaries/the status of Haberdasher Askes secondary as a local school. The stat quoted by someone in the audience was that last year there were 72 places allocated by distance at HA. Once the 60 FS pupils each year come trhough, this will drop to around 12.

HA suggested that the pupils at the FS will be local and would have been those who otherwise would have got in HA in secondary admission, therefore this wasn't really any issue. In 2020 (when the first reception class moves to secondary) they will look at this and there may be a need for more secondary places but they haven't/can't consider this now.

In my opinion (and I suspect that of the person in the audience who asked the question) this was a bit of a weak answer. It looks clear that if live close to HA but choose to send your children to Edmund Waller/John Stainer etc you will be unlikely to get a place at HA secondary. While HA will remain a "local school" as the pupils that have come through the FS will be local, it does feel like it will end up slightly sealed and seperate from the local area and other local schools.

Finally, I chatted to some other parents after. Broad view (and I'm sure there will be some that don't agree) was that while they might disagree with free schools on principle, they were impressed with the plans and would be willing to compromise those principles for their children. Of course that position might change if their children didn't get a place at the FS.