London ,

Guildhall hears of ‘extreme disappointment and frustration’ at Cass U-turn.

Deputy Joyce Nash asked at today’s Court of Common Council: Members will be aware, from regular articles in the local and nation press, of the shortage of primary school places, particularly in London, which is seeing the greatest growth rising birth rate and population movement. Can the Chairman of Community and Children`s Services Committee confirm what actions it has in place to ensure every primary aged child resident in the City will have access to high quality education, as laid out in the City’s Education Strategy?”

Chairman of Community and Children’s Services Dhruv Patel replied: ‘The demand for school places in London and in the City is increasing. To help meet this demand, we have been granted £2.6million funding from the Education Funding Agency to provide more school places at the Sir John Cass Primary School within the Square Mile. Officers have been working with the school governing body and the Sir John Cass`s Foundation to extend the school building to accommodate these extra school places. Unfortunately, we have recently been informed that Sir John Cass's Foundation, the owners of much of the land and the school building, has decided not to grant a licence to build on the site. The Foundation has given no reasons for this decision, despite having given their agreement in principle earlier in the year.

‘I have asked the Director of Community and Children’s Services to seek clarification on the reasons for this reversal by the Foundation in order strive for a way forward. At the same time, in case no progress is made, advice is being sort from the Comptroller as to other options available to us. My Lord Mayor, your Children’s and Community Services Committee was extremely disappointed and frustrated by this unacceptable U-turn from the Sir John Cass Foundation and I along with other members of this Honourable Court are doing everything we can to ensure as many of the City’s children as possible can access an outstanding education at this primary school.’

Member John Fletcher supported Chairman Patel, and Mark Boleat, the City’s Policy and Resources Chairman, said independent legal advice was being sought, and resources being readied to take the issue forwards.