This month we opened our magnificent new secondary school – the Kensington Aldridge Academy. It’s a project of which we are very proud indeed. The Council provided the site. It funded the project start-up costs. It put in over £10 million. And the whole project has been overseen by our own officers which is no small matter I can tell you.
It’s all been an immense undertaking but actually the new academy is just one chapter in a much larger story about education in Kensington and Chelsea.
For years now Royal Borough school places have been in huge demand, and no wonder. Our exam results are excellent. Our Ofsted results are excellent. And Royal Borough pupils who receive free school meals ─ a key measure of deprivation ─ do better in their GCSE exams than pupils who receive free meals in any other local authority in the country.
Our challenge has been two-fold: to keep that good news coming and to enable more children to benefit. We have sought to meet it by expanding the number of school places and by delivering brand new facilities.
In 2010 we opened the Chelsea Academy. It was chosen as the Public Building of the Year in 2011 and is rated as outstanding by Ofsted. We have rebuilt Holland Park School so that the astonishing academic progress made there in the past ten years wasn’t capped off by a crumbling 1950s building. The new Holland Park School is quite frankly amazing and it was entirely paid for by a land deal that also funded two affordable housing schemes.
It’s not all been about secondary schools either, far from it in fact. Middle Row Primary has been completely rebuilt and renamed. It is today the Ark Brunel Academy and it really is a first-class school. Later this year we will be submitting a planning application to expand the excellent Fox Primary. We will soon be moving St Anne’s Nursery to purpose-built new premises at Avondale Primary School. We have a new free school coming at Warwick Road in 2016 and we are rebuilding Marlborough Primary School too. It’s going to a stunning building and the local community will get to use some of fine new facilities.
And it doesn’t stop there: next we want to start talking to staff, parents and local people about Barlby Primary School which undoubtedly does a great job for its pupils but could benefit from a brand new building with state-of-the-art facilities. Happily the Barlby site is so unusually large we can also build a new school there for children with severe learning difficulties.
One of the most important measures for any council is how it supports the education of local children. I hope you will agree that Kensington and Chelsea has not been found wanting.
Take a 90 second video tour of the Kensington Aldridge Academy