A new era of education began today with the opening of the West London Free School.
It is the first of three new openings in the next eight days, with the Hammersmith Academy beginning tomorrow and ARK Conway, another free school, next Thursday.
Founded by journalist Toby Young, the WLFS will be led by headmaster Thomas Packer, previously head of Teesside High School, and opens with a group of 120 year seven pupils, building up to 840 pupils when each year group is filled over time. The aim is to admit the first sixth form pupils in 2014-15.
The first pupils will be housed in a temporary site on Cambridge Grove in Hammersmith and the school is then hoping to move to nearby Palingswick House.
Mr Young said: "I’m absolutely delighted that we’ve got to this stage and are now ready to open. I can’t pretend it’s been easy, but I hope the fact that we’ve managed to do it will inspire other groups of parents and teachers to follow in our footsteps."
Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh said the new schools would mean more options for parents. "One of the major priorities of this council has been the creation of schools of choice. For far too long, too many of our parents preferred to send their children to secondary schools out of our borough.
"That is no longer the case thanks to the huge improvement we have seen in our schools and to the creation of more educational choice. Free schools have been borne out of parent power and we make no bones about doing all we could to help these exciting new projects flourish - we are happy to say that Hammersmith & Fulham is the most free school friendly council in Britain."