East London Science free school opens with no playground
PUBLISHED: 19:28 09 September 2013 | UPDATED: 13:30 10 September 2013
E/Lond Science Sch
A new free school opened in east London today where the children have to be kept in at break-time because they don't have a playground.
The East London Science School is being housed in temporary accommodation at Three Mills Island on the River Lea, between Stratford and Bromley-by-Bow.
It is having to find a more permanent site with outdoor facilities after the London Development Corporation which owns the site gave it temporary planning permission for just two years.
“Having a playground was an issue for them—not us,” said Principal David Perks.
“We use our large hall for morning break, set up with drinks and snacks. It’s not an issue.
“At lunchbreak we take them off to Three Mills Green which is close by.
“There is no afternoon break as two classes are always out for sport or on a school trip and the others have computer science and prep instead of homework.”
The school has also just fixed a deal with East London Rugby Football club to use their recreational facilities at West Ham.
The first intake of 90 Year-7 pupils started today, with a school trip to Imperial College in Kensington meeting IVF pioneer Lord Robert Winston, who addressed them on the value of science education.
It has been a two-year campaign to get the school off the ground, which began when David Perks organised a petition calling for a science school and canvassing parents outside schools.
He lobbied the Department of Education and won Whitehall funding in May for his scheme.
But by July, the school was up against opposition over its lack of playground facilities.
Development Corporation member Geoff Taylor said it would “never be acceptable in State schools which have to have playgrounds.”
But the school won planning consent by a single casting vote, but restricted to two years. It is in negotiations for a permanent site, with three possibilities in mind—this time including a playground.
It will eventually have 600 pupils aged 11 to 16, but also plans a sixthform in 2015 with another 400 students up to age 19, specialising in A-Level science and maths.
The school, meanwhile, is using the Grade II-listed Clock Mill on Three Mills Island on a two-year license.