School opening delay causing ‘distress and nightmares’

A Liverpool Labour MP has told Parliament how the delayed opening of a new city school has caused “distress and logistical nightmares” in the community.

King’s Leadership Academy Wavertree planned to open in September 2024 as a non-selective free independent secondary school. It is set to be the fifth of the Great Schools Trust’s academies, joining those already established in Dingle, Bootle, Warrington, and Bolton.

With a funding issue regarding planning permission holding up the proposed opening date, Paula Barker, MP for Liverpool Wavertree, has criticised the Department for Education for failing to raise issues sooner.

The school plans to offer 180 year 7 places initially and said it would be “founded on international research and traditional values, focusing on leadership and academic development.” The school’s opening has now been delayed by a year until September 2025.

The school’s principal says this is due to delays in securing planning permission to convert its site in Wavertree Technology Park into a school.

Mrs Barker, who addressed the matter through a point of order to deputy speaker Eleanor Laing, said she wrote to Gillian Keegan, secretary of state for education, in February over a possible delay and sought assurances and answers over funding and placement issues for parents. She told the House of Commons no reply had been forthcoming.

She said, “Parents have now been informed Kings Leadership will not open in September and their children have been allocated secondary schools which were not one of their preferred choices causing distress and logistical nightmares.

“This is completely unacceptable to have not received a response on a matter of such urgency and unacceptable for the department to have not raised any issues earlier.”

In a statement, Benjamin Barker, principal of the King’s Leadership Academy Wavertree, said, “We have been working towards opening our new free school in Wavertree. Due to unforeseen delays in securing the planning permissions to convert the site into a school, the Department for Education (DfE) has been unable to complete the funding agreement for King’s Wavertree, so it has taken the decision to delay our planned opening until September 2025.”

“This removes any uncertainty for parents and children who received a firm offer at another school on National Offer Day.”

A planning application for the site was received by Liverpool Council on 1 February, with no date determined as to when it will be considered.

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