A threatened primary school has accused a free school of lobbying to take over its site before the council has made a decision on whether to close it.
Sulivan Primary School has been fighting plans by Hammersmith and Fulham Council to merge it with nearby New King’s in Fulham.
Headteacher Wendy Aldridge said it was 'upsetting' to see supporters of Fulham Boys School urging people to respond to the consultation by supporting the closure of Sulivan, which would free up the Peterborough Road site for the new free school.
The council said from the outset that although a vacant Sulivan site could be used by Fulham Boys, the consultation was solely about tackling low admissions at Sulivan and New King’s.
Ms Aldridge said: “Staff and parents from Fulham Boys have been outside the church, swimming pool, drama clubs, Tesco and scouts.
“They’ve been saying if you want the free school you have got to sign this petition.
“I’ve stated clearly at every single presentation that we do not have any issue with the free school, we just don’t think it should be on our site.
“We feel the council has muddied the waters by including the Fulham Boys School in the consultation.
“The council is saying this site is too good for our children but just right for the free school. The whole situation is upsetting.”
But Muriel Stinson, a founder and governor at Fulham Boys which will open next year on a temporary site in the Gibbs Green Estate, said its lobbying was a backlash to ‘anti-free school sentiment’.
“It went from a Save Our Sulivan campaign to a campaign against Fulham Boys School,” she told the Chronicle.
“We did go out and speak to people, we won’t deny that. We thought we needed to show support for Fulham Boys.
“We asked people to fill in the comments box to support Fulham Boys. There was nothing underhanded about it.”
Ms Stinson said that Fulham Boys School continues to look for a permanent base and that ultimately the decision lies with the Department for Education which would fund millions for a new school building.
The consultation closed on Wednesday (Dec 11) and parents, children and staff at Sulivan will have to wait until January to hear whether the school, rated good by Ofsted, will close.
Ms Aldridge added: “We’ve done absolutely all we can. We hope the council will seriously read our responses and take in the views of everybody.”
Councillor Georgie Cooney, cabinet member for education, said: “This has been a thorough and lengthy consultation and we have listened to a wide range of views, and attended meetings with all the various groups who wanted to make their views known.
“We are listening to and weighing up all the comments and representations we are receiving as part of our decision making process.”