Merton’s cabinet is set to announce plans for a new secondary school in Wimbledon so it can meet the forecast unprecedented demand for secondary school places over the next three years.
School expansions and a brand new secondary school are both on the cards. The move is in response to a cabinet report to be published next week (28 May), which highlights the need for the council to create 300 new secondary school places per year across the borough to be ready by September 2018, so that all 11-18 year-olds in Merton have a secondary school place.
The demand for secondary school places follows huge demand for primary school places that the borough has met through its successful primary school expansion programme.
Expansion of Harris Morden, Harris Merton and St Mark’s Academy in the east of the borough is a possibility. However, to meet the full demand for the whole borough, these expansions would not be sufficient and a new school would also have to be built.
An independent report the council commissioned two years ago considers a number of site options but also demonstrates that there is no easy solution to providing enough secondary school places. While the council is looking at all options and no decisions have yet been made, the Harris Federation has registered its interest in providing a new school in the borough. It is now the responsibility of the Department for Education’s (DfE) Education Funding Agency (EFA) to identify a site for a potential new school.
Merton Council cabinet member for education Councillor Martin Whelton said: “Our priority and duty is to provide a secondary school place for every child who wants to go to school in Merton. There will be over 500 extra children in Merton’s primary schools who will be entering secondary school by 2018 compared with 2014. Our primary school expansion has been very successful and expanding our secondary schools is one of our biggest challenges. We are being business-like in our approach, offering tax payers best value for money while providing enough secondary school places for our school children. And we are committed to delivering the places while seeing standards continue to rise.”