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The new Bow Primary school delayed a year, Tower Hamlets warns parents

15:00 16 February 2017

Delayed... former secondary school site planned to be converted to Bow Primary [Google arial view]

Delayed... former secondary school site planned to be converted to Bow Primary [Google arial view]

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A desperately-needed new primary school planned to cope with a booming population growth in London’s expanding East End is being delayed by a year, anxious parents have been told.

Campaigner Christoph Jankowski and the site of proposed Bow Primary School [Google street image]Campaigner Christoph Jankowski and the site of proposed Bow Primary School [Google street image]

Plans to open Bow Primary to help meet the demand won’t be ready to until September 2019, Tower Hamlets council has warned.

One of the parents is the Head of Culture on the British Council’s Europe Desk, Christoph Jankowski, who has nowhere to send his two-year-old son once he leaves his pre-school nursery in Bow Road.

He warned the council that he and other parents would be force to move away.

“Schools are heavily over-subscribed with an extreme shortage of nursery places in this area,” he told the council’s cabinet.

Christoph Jankowski addresses Tower Hamlets cabinetChristoph Jankowski addresses Tower Hamlets cabinet

“First-time families are in particular difficulty because schools are filling up to half their places under the ‘siblings’ policy.

“We are facing difficult life decisions about whether to leave the area if our children can’t get places locally.”

Mr Jankowski addressed the cabinet to plea on behalf of 150 families to speed up the tendering process for the contract to start building work to convert the now-empty former Bow Boys’ Secondary site off Fairfield Road into a “desperately needed” new primary school with a nursery.

The families have formed ‘Friends of Bow Primary School’ and have already had talks with a trust “with a strong track record” to run it, as well as interest from head-teachers and two existing schools in the East End, Bygrove in Poplar and Stebon in Limehouse.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs agreed there was a need for a new primary school in the area and “to get a move on”.

But he warned: “We cannot open it by September 2018—the following year is more likely.”

Work on the site is likely to take 14 months and the council doesn’t expect to be able to start before this autumn.

“I know there will be disappointment that the opening will be 2019 and not 2018,” the mayor added.

Bow Primary was likely to be an academy, councillors were told, which would either have to be created by the campaigning parents or have another academy trust to sponsor it.

More places were needed in Bow and Bromley-by-Bow, the cabinet heard, but it was difficult to project the future, with populations likely to change after ‘Brexit’.

The Tower Hamlets projected rise is 60,000 in the next 10 years alone, with the massive Docklands development which is putting pressure on school places.

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