Why isn’t school opening in September 2020?

The outbreak of COVID-19, and the ongoing lockdown, has caused significant delays to the Phase 1 building which now won’t be ready for the start of term in September 2020. More importantly, the delivery of Phase 2, the main school building, is also delayed and the Department for Education (DfE) is not yet able to confirm the start or completion date for this programme.

 

The school building is being delivered in two phases, and by two different contractors. The DfE was aiming to enter into the Development Agreement for the second phase (the main school building) in the spring (2020) with work starting on site soon after. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 has delayed the signing of the agreement between the contractor and the DfE and the main school building can now not be delivered for September 2021.

 

What options did Ark consider? Is this significant delay really the only option?

Since the start of the outbreak we have worked hard with colleagues at the DfE to identify alternative temporary school sites. However, these are in very short supply and the DfE, understandably, must prioritise open schools whose permanent buildings have also been delayed. Ark also considered opening temporarily at Ark Acton but without a contract in place for Soane’s main school building, and confirmation that it won’t be delivered for September 2021, we couldn’t guarantee suitable accommodation and facilities that would allow us to deliver the quality of education that we would expect for our students.

 

Will the school open later in the 2020-20201 school year?

No, we are not able to open a school part way through the school year. While we can’t give any guarantees amid the current crisis, we are continuing to work hard with colleagues at DfE to progress capital works as quickly as possible to secure a 2021 opening. We very much hope that Ark Soane will open in September 2021, but this would be for Year 7 students only.

 

Can my child transfer to Soane when it opens in 2021?

Unfortunately not. When we open a new school, it is grown from Year 7 upwards as it would be very destabilising for other local schools if a lot of pupils left at the same time to join a new school. We are very sorry that children won’t be able to join Ark Soane in September 2020.

 

What guarantees are in place to ensure pupils are allocated school places elsewhere?

All students have received a school place offer for September 2020. The majority of students who were holding a conditional offer at Ark Soane were also holding a school place through coordinated admissions and they will now take up those places. On Tuesday 5th May, Ealing Council contacted parents who had previously rejected their offer at an open school to reinstate it. They also offered school places to students who had not applied for a school places through coordinated admissions.

 

What should parents do next?

    • For parents who are Ealing residents, and have accepted a place at another Ealing school alongside Soane, they won’t need to take any action as their other offer and acceptance stands. If they are unsure, parents can contact Ealing Council at mainroundadmissions@ealing.gov.uk
    • For parents who are Ealing residents, and had rejected their offer at an open school, their original offer was reinstated by Ealing Council on Tuesday 5th May and they have received communication from Ealing Council to confirm this.
    • For parents who are Ealing residents, and had not applied for a school place through coordinated admissions, they will have been contacted directly by Ealing Council on Tuesday 5th May with the offer of a school place.
    • Parents living outside of Ealing have also been contacted by their local authority with the offer/reinstatement of a school place.