Problems Emerge with Flora Gardens School Relocation

Full refurb of existing building ‘may not be technically possible’

Flora Gardens Primary School on Dalling Road

December 2, 2023

A Hammersmith primary school may be temporarily relocated to a separate site due to “significant condition and suitability issues” – with officers conceding a full refurbishment “may not be technically possible”. Concerns have also been raised in a council report that the move may impact future admissions at Flora Gardens Primary School, in addition to some parents deciding not to move their children to the new site.

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service there has been “no impact” on admissions. Katy Asserati, headteacher at Flora Gardens, said the school is indeed hoping to relocate, and added all of the information related to the potential move is included in the council’s cabinet papers.

The proposed temporary new home for Flora Gardens is the former Lena Gardens Primary School site, less than a mile from its current location on Dalling Road. Lena Gardens was previously part of the Elliot Trust, though the site was returned to the council via the Department for Education after the academy closed on August 31, 2019.

According to council documents, a 2014 condition survey into Flora Gardens recommended a range of roof and window repairs. However, a later survey, in 2020, found the building would require “significant” works for the improvements to take place.

Officials write in the council report that “a complete refurbishment of Flora Gardens has not been fully costed, as the option is not viable”. They continue to note that it will likely be in the region of £1.5 million to £2m, “and may not be technically possible”.

Regardless, it is deemed to cost far more than refurbishing Lena Gardens, which requires works including asbestos and drainage surveys. If approved, the move is hoped to happen before or during the summer term, Flora Gardens wrote in a letter to parents, also published on the school’s website.

In a submission included in the council documents dated 16 May, Richie Adeyeye, Principal Schools Admission Officer, warns communication with parents will need to be clear so they know their options if they do not wish to move their children. Most schools nearby have few spare spaces, he adds, which may impact parents’ decisions.

Mr Adeyeye also writes uncertainty about the move may impact on future admissions for reception cohorts. “It is therefore important that School Admissions are fully aware of all information about the proposed move as early as possible to be in a position to provide clear information and effective support to parents. The Authority should consider funding costs of unexpected uniform or transport costs for parents who feel they need to move school.”

In its letter to parents, the school wrote it is exploring the idea of a walking bus, which would have stops along the route so children could join for the journey to Lena Gardens, and listed a range of benefits to the move, such as a dedicated lab room and a potting area. According to a 2022 Ofsted report, the school had 190 pupils on its school roll.

The school also clarified its team of teachers and support staff will all be moving with the pupils, and its hot school meals will still be provided.

If approved, the council will be contributing £200,000 Section 106 funds to assist with the move, £30,000 for relocation costs, and £170,000 to help support issues caused by the disruption, such as reduced pupil numbers.

A decision is due to be made by cabinet on 4 December.

Ben Lynch - Local Democracy Reporter