IAG Planning Permission Parent FAQs
We have received a number of questions since the announcement was made that the DfE’s planning application for our new school building was not successful. We hope that by sharing our responses we will provide as much clarity as we are able to at this time.
What has happened?
On 30 July 2019, the Planning Board for the Royal Borough of Greenwich (RBG) resolved to refuse a planning application from the Department for Education to build a school for the International Academy of Greenwich on the former Bowring sports ground.
The main argument for refusal is a lack of basic need for secondary places following a review of projections by RBG. The council argues that this means the International Academy of Greenwich is not needed to meet demand for secondary school places in Greenwich.
Is there anything I can do to complain about the decision?
This is a question we have been asked a number of times.
We are responding to the RBG’s decision in partnership with the DfE, but parents are also able to share their views by writing to the Planning Department at the Royal Borough of Greenwich - email@example.com - or directly to the Leader of the Council or Planning Board members.
We are aware that residents of Lewisham have also contacted their Local Authority through the Lewisham School Admissions Team.
What will happen next?
The Department for Education (DfE) will work with the school and the academy trust to which it belongs, Big Education, to assess the options for the future of the school. Any decision made will be in the best interests of the pupils at the school.
The decision is, however, ultimately made at Ministerial level. It is likely to take some weeks before we know what this decision will be.
What options will be looked at?
The DfE will be considering three options, and unfortunately none of them are ‘easy’.
Appeal: First, the DfE will be assessing the feasibility of appealing the RBG’s refusal of IAG’s planning application.
New permanent site: The second option that the DfE will consider is to move the plans for IAG’s permanent premises to another site. So a team will be looking at whether they can find a suitable piece of land in the borough and whether the permanent building could be ready by 2021.
Closure: If all else fails, the DfE will consider whether to close the school and how it should be done. If we were getting to that situation the DfE and the Local Authority would provide support to the school to move IAG’s pupils to a suitable local secondary school.
Should I start looking for other places for my child? Should I buy school uniform?
At this stage it is too early for us to give any definitive guidance. We can say that we are still planning and working hard for school opening in September - and we would recommend that you do the same.
Update 20th August 2019
Is there any further information about when a decision will be made?
At this stage, no. We continue to stress to the DfE how important clarity about the school’s long term future is. They have given us assurances that they will notify us of the outcome of their deliberations as soon as they are able.
In the meantime, we are continuing to prepare for September and look forward to welcoming back staff and students.
Have any staff left as a result of the outcome of the planning committee?
We have a dedicated and talented group of teachers who are committed to our students and the ethos of the school. All the staff who our students are expecting to see back at IAG in September will be there.
We are also welcoming eight new teachers in September who have come from as far afield as New Zealand. We think that these staff will further add to our group of teachers and support staff.
What are the plans for the students in the first few days back?
We appreciate that this is a worrying time for all concerned, particularly the students.
While we will answer any questions that they have about the future of the school, we firmly believe that the best thing that we can do is to get back into the routine of school as quickly as possible. Our teachers are planning engaging and informative lessons, and we will be providing an environment where students can focus on their education.
Update 5th September 2019
How long can we remain in the temporary building?
As we outlined earlier, all options are currently being considered by both the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Department for Education. Ultimately. It is their decision as to what the future of the school is. We are confident that they are considering all options seriously and that they have the very best interests of our students at the forefront of their mind.
As part of their consideration of other sites for our new build, they are looking at the option for us staying on the existing site in various forms. There is, however, a great deal to be considered. It is vital that we ensure that we are giving the students the best possible education, and it is right that we question whether the existing space will allow us to deliver a full and broad curriculum to a full cohort of students.
If the school decides to close what would the realistic timing be, would it be phased and how will this be managed ie will our local authority decide upon schools and offers?
The future of the school is ultimately a decision that will be made at Ministerial level. We are waiting for that decision to be made.
From our understanding, if a decision is made to close the school, this does not mean that the school would close straight away. Staff still have contracts in place, families will need time to find new schools and we have plans in place for the academic year. If it happened, it would likely be a phased closure over a number of months – which might even go through to the end of the academic year. It is, at this stage, impossible for us to give any firm advice or commitment.
What does a possible General Election mean?
While we are hopeful of a relatively quick decision, the prospect of a General Election may add delay.
If an election is called, the Government and all Government Departments enter a period called Purdah. This means that Ministers are unable to make and/or communicate any decisions and have to act in a politically neutral manner. If an election is called, therefore, we would have to wait until after a result had been announced before finding out about the future of the school.
All we can do at this stage is work with our excellent staff and amazing community to continue to provide the best possible education during this time. Are all parents now scurrying around trying to secure places for kids individually and how is this being managed by greenwich or lewisham etc ?
We are unaware of specifics around parents looking for other places. However, anyone currently looking for an alternative school will need to go through the usual admissions process of the local authority they are resident in.
Once a decision is known, we will be working with the LA to look at what it means for future admissions or what support we need to put in place for existing students.