New free school set to open in Kingston

Green light has been given for the King Charles Centre in Surbiton to be sold to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Subject to planning permission, the site will be home to a new primary free school - the GEMS Surbiton Primary Academy - which will be a two form entry and provide much needed primary school places in the local area. The new school will open in September 2022 and mean local children don’t need to travel outside their local area to other schools across the borough.

Latest pupil forecasts show that Kingston will need an extra form of entry (1FE) in Surbiton or Berrylands for reception entry in September 2019 and September 2020, rising to two form entry from September 2021 onwards.

Those currently on the site including Kingston Adult Education will be relocated and continue to provide classes for learners. The main Kingston Adult Education service will move to Guildhall complex in Kingston Town Centre. Subject to planning approval the arts and crafts studios will move to the space next to Kingston Museum.

Cllr Diane White, Portfolio Holder for Children's Services including Education, said:

“This is fantastic news for Kingston. The new school will provide much-needed school places for local children and young people in the borough.

“We are committed to doing everything in our power as a council to give each child in Kingston the chance of the best possible education and we are confident this new school will play a role in doing just that.

“We look forward to working closely with GEMS Learning Trust in order to make this exciting proposal a reality.”

Jodie Croft, CEO of the GEMS Learning Trust, said:

“I am so delighted that Kingston Council has approved the sale of the King Charles Centre   and that the site will now become a much needed school for local children and families.

"The GEMS Learning Trust has been committed to finding a suitable location for a new school for many years and we are delighted that we can now deliver our promise to provide new school places in this area, where there is a real need.

"We are committed too, to creating exceptional schools, where children are provided with the opportunities to flourish and excel on a daily basis.

"Both our sister schools, in a Twickenham and Didcot, have recent Ofsted inspection gradings of Outstanding and we aim to deliver the same high standards in every new school we create.”

The full committee report can be found on the council website or by contacting Democratic Services. 

Notes to Editors:

The Gymnasium and The School House are excluded from the sale and will still be owned by the council.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency have tried to secure a site within the area of need, Surbiton and Berrylands, for several years since the original approval of GEMS Learning Trust’s application for ‘GEMS Surbiton Primary Academy’ in May 2014. Since then, the opening of the school has been deferred several times due to uncertainty over a suitable site and delivery of the school within the timeframes of pupil needs.

Reception application numbers in most areas of the borough had decreased from the peak demand of 2015 and 2016. This has not been the case St Mark’s and Surbiton Hill wards, where applications for the 300 permanent places in its four Reception-intake schools (Lime Tree Primary, Maple Infant/St Andrew’s and St Mark’s Church of England Junior, St Matthew’s Church of England Primary and Tolworth Infant) have been steadily increasing in recent years.