First CofE Free School opens in London

The first Church of England free school officially opened in London yesterday.

St Luke's Church of England Primary School was opened in Camden by the Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres.

It is the first in a new generation of local schools with a Christian character across the capital.

Bishop Chartres said: “St Luke’s School is an illustration of the historic purpose of Church of England schools to serve the whole community.

"Church members who have contributed hours of voluntary effort to set up the first free school in the Diocese, have done so in the knowledge that none of their own children will be eligible to attend because of the strict admissions criterion which is based solely on how far children live from the school.

"This excellent school is a contribution to provision in the borough of Camden which is currently 150 places short for children of reception class age. I found my visit inspiring.”

Penny Roberts, Chair of Governors at St Luke’s C of E Free School, said: “The hard work by so many at St Luke’s Church to establish the first C of E Free School has paid off. It is wonderful to see the school thriving and a privilege to serve our community in this way.”

The London Diocesan Board of Schools (LDBS) is opening six free schools and has been successful in every Department for Education free school application round so far. It plans to submit more proposals in the next round.

The LDBS is opening the schools in response to the rising demand for school places in London. It has chosen areas with a particularly acute need for more places.

Although the schools have a Christian character, they will welcome pupils of all faiths and none.

The opening of St Luke's will be followed by William Perkin CofE High School in Ealing next September. Prospective students and their parents will be attending open days this week to find out more about the school.

It is being set up under the auspices of the heavily oversubscribed Twyford Church of England High School and will take in 180 students.

September 2013 is also expected to see the opening of free schools by St Mary’s Church of England Primary School in Hampton, Fulham Boys School and two special free schools - the Courtyard sponsored by St Mary Magdalene Academy in Islington and the St Marylebone Bridge School sponsored by the St Marylebone Church of England School in Westminster.

Inigo Woolf, Director of the London Diocese Board of Schools, said: “The energy and enthusiasm of our churches and parents to embrace the potential of Free Schools has been amazing. St Luke’s is the first in a series of new C of E Free Schools in London, adding to the fine 500 year history of church schools serving local communities in the capital.”