Sunday, 08 May 2016 12:21

New academy school plans on display

Written by
The dis-used stadium fenced off and awaiting approval to become the site of super-sized new academy school The dis-used stadium fenced off and awaiting approval to become the site of super-sized new academy school
After a year’s delay, and a dearth of information, public exhibitions are finally being arranged to allow public consultation over the proposals to build a new free school with over 1,800 places on the site of the Underhill Stadium, formerly the home of Barnet Football Club.

To be known as the Ark Pioneer Academy, the new school is now due to open in September 2018.  Ark Pioneer would cater for children from the age of two through to 19, from nursery to sixth form, and would offer “non-selective, non-denominational and mixed-gender” education.

It will have an admissions criteria prioritising children living closest to the school, and each year from September 2018 would take 60 at nursery age, 90 reception age and 180 at year seven, until reaching full capacity in September 2024.

The Ark Schools network already operates 34 academies, and is one of the largest of the new free school groups being developed with the support of the government’s Education Funding Agency, which purchased the site when Barnet FC left Underhill in April 2013, and moved to the Hive Football Centre in Camrose Avenue, Edgware.

Local residents have been raising concerns for months about the lack of information and the absence of consultation.

They fear that a new school serving 1,890 pupils would result in considerable traffic congestion in both Mays Lane and Barnet Lane, and also at the main junction at the bottom of Barnet Hill.

Ark Schools have arranged two public exhibitions where members of the Ark Pioneer project team will be on hand to answer questions:

  • Wednesday 18 May, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hope Corner Community Centre, 185 Mays Lane
  • Monday 23 May, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Rainbow Centre, Dollis Valley Drive

Ark Schools, says the new Pioneer academy, one of five new schools to be opened by the network, would “help meet Barnet’s urgent need for new school places.”

The new school will open in September 2018 and will be non-selective, non-denominational and mixed-gender, with an intake of 60 nursery, 90 reception age and 180 year 7 age children each year until it reaches capacity in September 2024.A full community consultation is being arranged so that local people can have their say before a planning application is submitted to Barnet Council later in the year.

Ark Schools says the Pioneer Academy team is anxious to listen to community feedback. In an attempt to reassure local residents, the network has given a series of undertakings about the construction of the school, and the development of the Underhill site:

  1. There would be high quality new sports facilities, with the potential for community use outside of school hours.
  2. New landscaping across the site, including tree planting around the perimeter.
  3. Investment in local transport infrastructure, to be identified through discussions with the London Borough of Barnet.

When plans were first announced for a new academy in north London, before the purchase of the Underhill stadium by the Education Funding Agency, Ark Schools said it aimed to reduce the achievement gap between children from disadvantaged and more affluent backgrounds.

Advertisements for the founding principal of the new academy, said that Ark Pioneer would focus on “innovation and pioneering new ways of teaching to enhance students’ experiences and outcomes”.


  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 07:36 posted by Tim Webster

    Profit-making schools. Schools set-up primarily to make money. Profit-making schools. Jesus bloody wept. These people need to take a long, good look at themselves.

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 08:32 posted by Jane Hoar

    So looking forward to the gridlock at the end of Barnet Lane and Mays Lane....

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 08:33 posted by Jane Hoar

    sorry, correction "more gridlock"...

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 08:35 posted by Diana Killip

    And it's already gridlock as soon as the 326 is in the vicinity!

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 08:35 posted by Phillip Willcocks

    But then again any form of development on the site would course congestion and the site will not stay empty.

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 16:08 posted by Duncan Macdonald

    It won't stay empty but even more pressure on roads that already can't cope at school opening and closing times is going to make a bad problem much worse.

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 19:07 posted by Sue Matthews

    And how much of a foot print, sorry boot print will it encroach onto the sports field behind, will that also be sold to this profit making company at the expense of the football teams who currently use it. It would be ideal to see the ground plans this school will take up and what will happen to the school just down the lane Totteridge Academy will that now close.

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 20:07 posted by Tricia Clarke

    Oh yeah let's have another academy, not!! Government get out clause here we come. Big fat cop out! Use it for another community projector a council run school which fare better.

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 20:08 posted by Sharmistha Dhar-Michaels

    About time there was a nondenominational school in High Barnet

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 20:09 posted by Estelle Calfe

    But we already have some - TTA and QE Girls at secondary level and several primaries. Why do we need another school?

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 20:09 posted by Sharmistha Dhar-Michaels

    Because there aren't enough places at the nondenominational schools and they are all good schools ( at least at primary level )

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 20:10 posted by Clare Russell

    So what happens to nondenominational Grasvenor and Underhill schools??

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 20:10 posted by Diana Killip

    This is the death knell for those schools. I can't see any other outcome. Plus I suspect they will suddenly discover there is not enough room on the site for a 2-18 school (which there isn't) and they will go after TTA as well.

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 20:11 posted by Desmond Michael

    What about the extra traffic? It is already at a standstill in Mays Lane in the rush hour now.

  • Comment Link Monday, 09 May 2016 22:16 posted by Janet Gallagher

    This is going to cause chaos for the local traffic AND local residents who live in the immediate area. We already struggle for parking spaces along with large volumes of traffic, on what are narrow streets and a country lane. This is town planning gone mad!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 10 May 2016 09:07 posted by steve bell

    It's a done deal.. another brown envelope, is this why the yellow lines have been left down around the area after bfc left??. So now they can reactivate and ticket residents to help fund the project.

  • Comment Link Friday, 13 May 2016 01:36 posted by M Day

    Barnet football club were "given" this ground, council owned and therefore a community asset, for the price of £10,000 in 2002.
    The EFA has now bought the site back for 14.2 million! That's some profit.
    The deal is done, although no planning permission has yet been granted.
    This can only mean one thing, and that is despite any residents objections, a school is going to be built on the site, so the public consultation is a farce.
    Another interesting fact is that over the years the owner of Barnet Football Club has been buying up properties surrounding the ground and now owns many of them. Enough to demolish a terrace and build flats on Barnet Lane so I've heard.

  • Comment Link Friday, 20 May 2016 17:19 posted by

    When I moved into grasvenor avenue 14 years ago people who were concerned about the football club were told "it was there before the houses". well our houses were here before some huge unneeded,traffic problem causing,thrust upon us `Free` school. Please stop them before they get started.


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