Fate of much-celebrated Wandsworth school to be decided


The council has proposed to sell a large portion of Elliott School’s grounds to fund the refurbishment of the school.


By Jasmin Leitner

The fate of a much-celebrated Wandsworth comprehensive is to be decided this week.

The council has proposed to sell a large portion of Elliott School’s grounds to fund the refurbishment of the school, whose condition has declined over a number of years.

It is thought a new housing development will be built on the land sold.

The proposals are controversial and campaigners see the next Finance and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting as the last chance to influence the council’s plans.

Ed Lattimore, founder of campaign group Save Elliott School, said: “I can’t stress enough how special this school is.

“It was a pioneering school and it must be seen in the context of when it was built – shortly after the iconic Festival of Britain – and heavily influenced by Bauhaus and Le Corbusier.”

The school currently boasts a grade II-listed sports hall and technology wing, six tennis courts, a football pitch, athletics facilities, an outdoor amphitheatre, a nature garden and a care-takers lodge.

These facilities and the land they occupy were ear-marked by the council as surplus and would have represented a 56% reduction to the site if they were sold.

The school was described by Elain Harwood of English Heritage as one of the finest large comprehensive schools built by the London County Council Architects.

Currently, it is planned that Elliott School will be converted into ARK Academy Putney in September 2012.

Though unconfirmed, it is thought that ARK will only take over if the proposed land sale goes ahead.

Local authorities can only sell school land if it is surplus to requirement and a Section 77 application demonstrating that this is the case must be made to the Secretary of Education, Michael Gove.

SES have campaigned since mid-February to prevent the application.

Mr Lattimore, a former pupil himself, said: “It’s the architecture that gives the school its educational edge. The playground is a stage for learning and allows the children to be creative.”

Following the end of the public consultation period on May 25th SES submitted a 20-page document criticising the council’s approach to public consultation.

It shows the council failed to make documents such as an up-to-date condition survey or a statement detailing Wandsworth Borough Council’s financial reserves available for public inspection.

The report also emphasised the architectural significance of the school site and proposed alternative refurbishment plans for the school, in terms of work needed to be done and the potential costs.

As a result of discussions at a Committee meeting on June 11th, an internal council meeting was held in which an all-party agreement was reached to reduce the amount of proposed land for sale.

It is thought the listed gym and technology block and the amphitheatre will be kept and that public access for the sports pitches south of this block may be secured, but this has not been confirmed.


Wandsworth’s cabinet member for education Cllr Kathy Tracey said: “We have listened to the passionate arguments put forward over the setting of the building and have looked at ways of reducing the amount of land required for the new housing that will help to pay for the school’s improvements.

The final meeting before the submission of the Section 77 application to the Secretary of Education will take place on July 4th.

More information about the campaign can be found at

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