Barclay Secondary Free School Update;

4th January 2016

To all parents,

Barclay Secondary School – will not be opening in September 2017

The Trust team are disappointed to announce that the Department of Education have deferred the opening of the planned Barclay Secondary School because of concerns over planning. This decision was made at Ministerial level and did not involve the Trust. The project to open Barclay Secondary School is continuing however and we will continue to work to open the secondary school as requested by our parents – and will update you all on the revised programme. Thank you to everyone who has, and who continues to support us in this exciting and much needed investment in education in Waltham Forest. 

Please contact Christopher Stark on if you would like any more information. 

1. Why was the project deferred?

The Department of Education and their technical advisors were not certain that the required planning permission would be granted in time for the school to open in September 2017.  This is due to the positions taken by Waltham Forest Council. The decision was made to make sure that every child was offered a guaranteed place in 2017. The Trust would never place any student’s secondary education at risk. Although we are very disappointed in what has happened and were not involved in making the decision, we do feel this is the right decision at this time, as we would never jeopardise any student’s education. 

2. What does “deferred” actually mean?

What this means is that the project is delayed until planning can be resolved. The project is not cancelled or shut-down and we will open Barclay Secondary School as soon as we possibly can.  The reasons we started the project remain in place – Waltham Forest desperately needs more high quality secondary places and parents and students have a right to make a quality-based choice for their secondary education - and this delay is only caused by a process around the chosen site being cleared for the schools to be built on it. 

3. When will you open?

At this stage, we are looking at when the best time to open would be and are working closely with the DFE to see how best to use this time to make the school even better once we’re green lighted to proceed forward again. 

4. What does this mean for our choice of places for our child in September 2017? Will we lose those places?

No. The Trust has never shared your details with any organisation outside of the Trust – the list of the hundreds of parents who elected to complete an application form for a place at Barclay Secondary School is, and will always remain, completely confidential. This will have no bearing at all on the offer of places of a secondary school for your child and you can 100% confident that by making an application to Barclay Secondary School, you have not done anything that will affect the offer of a place made to your child.  

PARENT UPDATE: Funding for Building Improvements! 

31 March 2015


The Trust is delighted to see the funding that we bid for in 2014 through the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund (ACMF) being applied to help improve the condition of the schools in the Trust. The fund is structured by the Department of Education to allow Trusts to bid for capital grants to address medium sized repair and maintenance works – such as roofing, windows, doors, guttering and drainage. We submitted a range of bids for all the schools in the Trust and two projects were approved.

At Sybourn – the window replacement works have now been completed on time and under budget. The nearly £30,000 underspend has been earmarked to redecorate three classrooms and the small staff room (damaged by the tree) where the window replacement works had taken place and also allows us to redecorate the main Hall. We were delighted to see how well the whole project was run and the contractors, MBS Construction, did a great job working with the school team to keep noise and disruption down to a minimum. They even removed the tree that was growing out of the 3rd story wall! The Trust continues to support Mr. Bocchi and the team to work to see where more funds are available so we can continue to tackle the range of issues that exist at Sybourn.

UPDATE! We have been informed as of 26.03.2015 that our bids for funding to replace the wiring at Sybourn and to do further works to replace the roof at both Perth Road and Sybourn Street have been successful! More good news as we seek to continue to improve our oldest school buildings.

At Thomas Gamuel there is a full programme of works taking place over the Easter break – again, focusing on windows and door replacements. We are very pleased that the funding has been enough to get all the windows and doors replaced and even more so that the contractor, AEM Contracts Ltd, are confident they will have all the main works completed before the children and staff return to start the summer term. The high level windows and a few final elements will be completed over the next half-term. The project team have worked to make sure the fish are fully protected throughout!

UPDATEBarclay Primary School – along with the great news about funding for works at Sybourn, we have also been informed that our bids to resolve drainage and roofing works at Barclay have also been approved. Of the 4 bids we submitted, we were successful in 100% of them! 

The Lion Academy Trust does work to make sure the impact on the school staff and teaching and learning is kept to a minimum throughout these projects – do let us know if you would like any more information or speak to Mr Bocchi or Mr Mitchell or Mr Wright.

Justin James                                                                                                                             Hayden Tyers 

Chief Executive Officer                                                                                                           Executive Principal

Barclay Secondary Free School Update;

Letter to all Parents

11 March 2015

From Justin James, CEO of the Lion Academy Trust



I'm delighted to write to you to let you know that our application to open Barclay Secondary Free School in September 2016 has been approved. This means that we are now in the “pre-opening phase” where we have 16 months to work to create the new school. As one of 49 free schools approved by the Department of Education, the new secondary school will be based on the same “no excuses” culture we operate in all our primary schools and I am excited about the opportunity to design  a new school from the ground up – and to make sure Barclay Secondary Free School gives all who attend it the best possible education and the ability to make real choices about their lives after school.

My thanks to all the parents who signed up in support for the school – just to let you know – we will now be required to run a further, statutory consultation where we will need all parents with children currently in Year 5 to confirm that the new school will be their first choice school for their child(ren).  This means we will be running a series of workshops and events at each of the current schools to meet with you and discuss what happens next and we go from where we are to an open school in 2016.

A few things to raise:

-        Free Schools are a flagship Tory policy – there is a risk that should the general election outcome in May bring about a significant change in government, the project may be at risk of being paused or even stopped completely. We can’t do anything about this possibility and will carry on working on the project until we know the outcome;

-        We still don’t have a site confirmed – although that should be completed in the next few months. As soon as we are able to let all parents know where the school will be located, we will be sure to let you all know; and

-        We still need all of your support – please stay in touch through the website and your local schools to keep informed of when new events will be taking place and for ways in which you can help us.

Thank you again for your support on this very exciting venture – the team and I are really looking forward to sharing progress with you and should you have any queries or require any further information, please contact the team at your school or our project manager, Christopher Stark

Justin James


Lion Academy Trust new Barclay Secondary Free School One Step Closer in Waltham Forest

The Lion Academy Trust were delighted to attend the final stage of the application process at the Department of Education’s offices in Sanctuary Buildings today to participate in the formal interview process for the proposed new Free School. 

The Trust team, led by Justin James (CEO) and Graham Moss (Chairman of the Trust) were grilled on our plans for the curriculum, the standards and ambitions the Trust has for the new school as well as the capacity to deliver this complex and demanding project.  The two-hour long interview allowed for the reasons for a new secondary school to be further explored and for the team to set out the exciting opportunities our partnerships with Samsung and Google will bring for students and their families locally.

Justin James, CEO of the Lion Academy Trust said:

“The team and I are delighted to get this next phase of the process successfully completed – I welcome the rigour and challenge the Department are showing around our plans and was deeply impressed with the level of detail and understanding the team demonstrated.  Although we now have to wait until March to find out the final outcome, I’m happy we’ve done all we can to demonstrate why Barclay Free School is needed and how we will form a high quality addition to the Waltham Forest family of schools.”

Justin James, CEO of the Lion Academy Trust said:

If successfully approved to proceed into the pre-opening phase, the Trust will work closely with the Department for Education to finalise a site for the new school and work to open in September 2016. 

Interested parents can find out more at

Editors’ notes

For further information, please contact Christopher Stark on 07765256237 or

Free Schools are state funded schools that are independent of local authority control. They have the freedom to decide the length of school day and term, their curriculum, teacher pay and how they spend their budgets.