This list below are some of the frequesntly asked questions
about the Kensington Academy and leisure centre.
The need for an academy
1. Why does the Royal Borough need a new school?
As a local authority the Council has a responsibility to provide
sufficient school places for residents in the Royal Borough.
Over 30 per cent of local students currently travel outside the
Royal Borough for their secondary education. Demand for secondary
school places is especially pressing in North Kensington and this
situation is only set to increase with the growing population.
We need to address this issue to ensure that children have
access to sufficient high quality education within the Royal
Borough now and in the future.
2. Will every child be guaranteed a place in this academy?
Children will have to apply for a place in the academy, in the
same way that they do for any other state school. Admissions are
fair, and must be in accordance with the School Admissions
3. What are academies?
Academies are publicly-funded independent local schools that
provide a first-class free education. They are all-ability schools
established by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups
working with partners from the local community.
Academies provide a teaching and learning environment that is in
line with the best in the maintained sector and offer a broad and
balanced curriculum to pupils of all abilities, focusing especially
on one or more specialism.
About the Kensington Aldridge Academy
4. Which architects were appointed to design the new
The competition to design a new academy and leisure centre for
North Kensington was won by a Studio E-led team. Studio E are
experienced school and leisure centre designers, having worked on
the City Academy Hackney, the Ark Academy Wembley, the Burgess Park
Community Sports Centre and the Watford Leisure Centre Central.
The architects are also familiar with our borough having
redesigned Emslie Horniman Pleasance, the classroom of the future
at St Francis of Assisi primary and they completed the sports and
IT extension to St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College.
5. Why is this an academy and not just a regular school?
Establishing academies is the Government’s preferred method for
funding schools in the UK. To qualify for financial support from
the Government for this school we needed to ensure that it was an
Academies were introduced in 2000 to bring a distinctive
approach to school leadership by drawing on the skills of their
sponsors and supporters. They are an integral aspect of the
Government’s strategy to raise education standards in disadvantaged
and challenging areas.
Academy status also gives the school greater freedom to promote
enterprise and innovation while offering students the opportunity
6. Will you have to pay to send a child to this academy?
Academies are state schools and they are completely free of
7. How many pupils will be admitted each year?
In total 180 pupils will be admitted each year.
8. Who are the sponsors of the academy?
The lead sponsor of the academy is the Aldridge Foundation with
the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as co-sponsor. The two
sponsors have established a very strong and positive working
relationship and have a proven track record in delivering high
The Aldridge Foundation already sponsors academies in Darwen,
Brighton, Portslade and on Portland. Darwen opened in 2008 and has
achieved excellent GCSE and A level results. Brighton, which
started from a challenging base in 2010 as an underperforming
school, has now been transformed. Portslade is in its second year
of operation whilst Portland opened in September 2012.
All academies the Aldridge Foundation sponsor are non-selective,
non-denominational, community schools for local students and their
The Royal Borough is the co-sponsor of the Chelsea Science
Academy which opened on time and to budget in September 2009. The
Council will ensure that the Kensington Aldridge Academy plays a
key role as a leader of teaching and learning.
9. Will the sponsors benefit financially from the academy?
No. The Aldridge Foundation is a not-for-profit charitable
10. What will the curriculum be like?
The main focus of education will be on core subjects, with an
emphasis on English Baccalaureat curriculum areas.
Entrepreneurship will be used to give a context to all core
subjects including mathematics, English and science, whilst also
building vitally important employability skills such as
team-working and determination. The academy will also specialise in
performing and creative arts, enhancing creativity and confidence
for students, whilst providing a route to employment in creative
11. What will the academy specialise in?
Aldridge academies have a focus on entrepreneurship, developing
in students a state of mind which strives to solve problems rather
than accept defeat. It provides context for the learning of core
subjects and is integrated into all areas of academy life.
Attributes such as determination, passion, risk-taking,
problem-solving, teamwork and creativity are encouraged through
lessons, enrichment activities such as after school clubs, the
rewards system and our work with the broader community.
In keeping with the sponsors’ commitment to developing a
curriculum that makes learning relevant and provides skills for
life, the academy’s specialism will be performing and creative
arts. This part of the borough is rich in its vibrancy and
enthusiasm for the expressive arts and the academy will contribute
significantly to the cultural life of the community through this
12. How will the academy be able to deliver a full sports
curriculum and would it have access to other sports
- The academy will offer a full sports curriculum in line with
other state schools. The finer details of the provision will be
finalised once the principal is in post. However, the Aldridge
Foundation has already begun looking at neighbouring facilities
with a view to maximising opportunities.
- The academy will benefit from a modern sports hall, a multi-use
games area, and shared facilities at the leisure centre. In
addition, other off-site local sports facilities will be fully
utilised, further building community links.
- The academy itself will have the facilities to offer
opportunities ranging from gymnastics to basketball, and table
tennis to fencing, as well as a five-a-side football pitch.
13. When will the academy open?
The academy will open in September 2014
14. Are the transport links sufficient in the area to support
The studies we have carried out so far have shown that a school
can be supported on this site by the existing transport links.
The academy will be required to produce a detailed travel plan
to identify staff and pupil travel patterns. In the interim, a
framework travel plan has been submitted as part of the planning
application and sets out the broad principles for travel and access
to the site, showing strategies that will be employed to encourage
walking, cycling and the use of public transport.
15. What will the new academy look like?
Studio E’s designs can be viewed below.
16. How will admissions be arranged? Are they based on
proximity to the academy?
Yes, admissions will be based on locality.
The academy will be a local school serving the local community
and will adopt the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s
admissions criteria. An admissions priority area is being proposed
as part of the academy plans. This will not exclude parents outside
the area but will ensure it is first and foremost a neighbourhood
school. The postcodes included within the priority areas are W10,
W11, W12, W14 and a small area of W2.
There will be no selection by ability, gender or religion.
17. Would there be provision for special needs education?
The academy will welcome local students, including those with
special educational needs. Children of all abilities will be able
to benefit from the new academy.
In addition, the academy will house a small specialist provision
available for up to twenty students with a range of social and
communication difficulties, including autism and Asperger syndrome.
The provision will be in the form of a centre in the academy with
specialist staff, including teachers and trained teaching
assistants. The purpose of the provision will be to enable the
students to participate, contribute and achieve, both in the centre
and, where possible, alongside their peers in mainstream lessons
and other activities. The centre will be funded by the Royal
Borough and run by the academy.
18. What will the age range be at the academy?
The new academy will be co-educational and will grow from its
initial year one intake in 2014 to eventually accommodating 900 11
to 16-year-olds. From 2016, a sixth form will also start with a
single year intake and will grow to up to 240 students.
19. How would parents be involved in the academy?
We hope that all parents will want to get involved in the life
of the academy and play a part in the success of the school. A
principal will be appointed early in 2013 and is expected to be in
post a year before the academy opens. One of their first priorities
will be to define the many ways in which parents will be able to
20. Will the academy be available to the community?
The academy will play a full part in local life and facilities
such as the sports hall, dance studio and theatre will also be
available for students, adults and community groups to use outside
of school hours.
Dedicated entrepreneurial areas or ‘pods’ will be available in
the academy to help students and members of the community develop
their business ideas.
21. How much will the academy cost and how will it be
- A total of £57.8 million has been agreed towards the building
of the new academy and leisure centre.
- The Council will provide £10.4 million for the academy in
addition to the £17.6 million already provided for the academy by
the DfE. This extra funding will ensure that the academy is built
to the same high standards as Chelsea Academy.
22. Will this school cost as much as Chelsea Academy?
The costs associated with academy projects need to be considered
on an individual basis.
There were specific site conditions at Chelsea Academy which
meant that some £4-5 million pounds of additional funding was
required and the programme was procured at the peak of the market.
Building costs alone have since decreased by some nine per cent.
Additionally, Chelsea Academy received £36.2 million of funding
from central government whereas the Kensington Aldridge Academy was
granted £17.6 million. This is a reflection of the changed economic
situation that we are now in.
With this additional funding in place, better conditions on site
and efficiencies from improved procurement methods, the Council is
confident that a state-of-the-art academy, meeting the same high
standards as Chelsea Academy can be delivered.
23. Is the Council using its reserves to fund the school?
Yes, the Royal Borough is funding £10.4 million towards the
academy from its reserves with the remaining £17.6 million coming
from the Government’s contribution.
24. Will the Aldridge Foundation be contributing any money
towards the building of the academy?
The remit of the Aldridge Foundation as lead sponsor has never
been to contribute financially to the capital cost of building the
academy, although it has contributed substantially to the planning
process through its expertise and experience.
The Aldridge Foundation will provide the ethos and educational
direction for the school in perpetuity and deliver the high
standard curriculum that we aspire to in the Royal Borough.
The leisure centre
25. How old is the leisure centre?
The leisure centre was originally built in the mid-1970s as a
It was further developed in 1986 to include dry-side facilities
including full size and smaller sports halls and squash courts. In
2001 Kensington Leisure centre was reopened after a £3m
redevelopment and upgrading which resulted in an improved swimming
pool, sports hall, new café bar/reception and better facilities for
26. Wasn’t the leisure centre recently refurbished?
The latest significant redevelopment took place more than a
decade ago, in 2001. Since then no major improvement works have
taken place and the facilities and the building itself have aged
27. Has the Council considered alternative sites for the
The Council has considered other sites that might be suitable
for the construction of a new leisure centre and found no other
sites in North Kensington currently available for development that
could realistically be used to house a new leisure centre to the
Also we know that local people treasure having this facility
there and we want to make sure that local communities can enjoy it
for many years to come. Rebuilding it is the most effective way of
ensuring that this is achieved.
28. Will the same or additional facilities be included in the
new leisure centre?
The new leisure centre will have more facilities then the
current one. For example, the new fitness suite will have 120
stations compared to the current one which has 55.
Our proposals for a fully accessible centre include:
- 25-metre, eight-lane swimming pool for teaching and swimming at
- 250-seat spectator gallery
- 20-metre teaching pool with mobile floor
- leisure pool
- 120-station gym
- spin studio
- eight-court multi-use hall
- spectator seating
- two fitness studios
- two squash courts with moveable wall giving the potential for a
third fitness studio
- sauna/steam facilities with treatment rooms
- male, female, group and family changing facilities
- a café and meeting area
29. What is wrong with the present premises?
The current centre was built in the 1970s and just isn’t
tailored to the health needs and pastimes of local people. The
internal layout is sprawling and as a result makes poor use of the
space. The layout also makes the building hard to maintain and
oversee and therefore expensive to run. We believe by rebuilding
rather than refurbishing we will significantly reduce running
Environmentally speaking, the current centre is a poor building
and refurbishment is unlikely to successfully address this failing.
A new building would certainly be low carbon, in fact we would
expect it to achieve a Building Research Establishment’s
Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) “excellent” rating which
wouldmean a significantly reduced carbon footprint and lower fuel
Architecturally the current centre has little or no merit. With
award-winning architects, Studio E, on board we believe we can do
better. We want to design new and much-improved facilities that
meet local needs and aspirations and which help people become
But perhaps most importantly of all, the current centre is
coming to the end of its useful life. Leisure centres built in the
70s typically have a lifespan of between 30 and 50 years. So the
current centre’s time is up. As a result repair and maintenance
costs are starting to mount. We think a really good refurbishment
would only keep the centre in business for another decade or so and
still leave fundamental shortcomings unaddressed.
Leisure Centre Cost
30. How much would it cost to put the current leisure centre
right, compared with the cost of a rebuild?
The architects estimate that a full refurbishment would cost in
the region of £14million, and would last around ten years, versus
around £20 million lasting 50 years for a new centre.We also need
to take into account that the running costs for the original
building are also set to get more expensive as the building ages,
so by rebuilding it now we can save money in the long-term.
Refurbishment on the scale of providing a like-for-like facility
would still involve closing the leisure centre for up to a year.New
build therefore provides a more cost effective construction
Consultation- you said, we did
31. Has the Council listened to the views of local people?
Over the past two years the Royal Borough and the Aldridge
Foundation have consulted widely on the emerging proposals through
a series of drop-in events,
workshops and exhibitions. The local community has also been
kept informed through newsletters, a residents’ forum, the leisure
centre user group and through the
Council and academy websites.
We have listened to and considered comments from the community
every step of the way and below is a summary of how we have
incorporated their feedback into the plans.
Not enough money is being invested in this project.
The Council’s Cabinet agreed funding of £40.2m in December
That you were concerned about what would happen to public
We have planned significant improvements to the public realm
including the redesign and improvement of Lancaster Green. We have
also created a new green space to the front of the leisure
There should be more regular communication on the project.
We set up resident and leisure forums and communicate regularly
through newsletters, websites and drop-in events and
As part of this development improvements should be made to the
We looked carefully at how we could improve the estate and
approved £6m of new funding to invest in Grenfell Tower.
That the leisure centre’s changing facilities needed to be
We have ensured that there will be a range of changing
facilities in the new leisure centre’s swimming area, including
dedicated male and female changing, family changing areas and two
group changing areas. The ‘dry’ activities will have male/female
To make the proposals as green as possible.
We expect to achieve a Building Research Establishment’s
Environmental Assessment (BREEAM) “excellent” rating for the
development which would mean a significantly reduced carbon
footprint and lower fuel bills.
That you were concerned that play areas and football pitches
might be lost.
Investment to improve an underused pitch has been made five
minutes away at the Westway Sports Centre. The current play area
will stay on site but be enhanced significantly along with
improvements to nearby green spaces.
That there are insufficient aids such as overhead tracking
hoists for swimmers with disabilities and their carers.
The swimming pools will have a number of design features which
will make them more accessible including hoists, shallow steps and
a moveable floor in the teaching pool.
That the leisure centre’s facilities need to be better laid
Customers of the new leisure centre will only have to travel
short distances to reach the facilities and changing areas. The
facilities will be fully accessible for people with disabilities
and with much better external and internal signage.
Wider estate improvements
32. Will improvements such as new windows and cladding be made
to the estate including Grenfell Tower?
There are plans to refurbish Grenfell Tower. Back in May 2012
the Council’s Cabinet approved £6m worth of investment for
improvements to the Tower. The funds will be used to give the Tower
new external cladding to provide an effective rain screen; double
glazing to reduce noise, improve thermal efficiency and fuel
economy; and controlled heating and water systems.
33. Is it true and new homes will be created at the base of
By opening up the lower levels at its base, four-four bedroom
and three three-bedroom new homes will be created for families on
the housing waiting list. This remodelling work will also create an
improved communal entrance, new office facilities and improved
walkway access to the Tower.
34. What will happen to Grenfell under three’s nursery and the
Dale Boxing Club?
The Grenfell under three’s nursery will move from its current
location on the mezzanine level to the ground floor near a fenced
play area. Currently it has no lift and the small staircase makes
it difficult to access the outdoors. The space is divided into two
disconnected areas which make managing the nursery difficult and
the high windows block out natural light.
The Dale Boxing Club currently occupies the ground floor and is
a very small facility for a vibrant and successful club which has
produced several champions and a gold medallist at the 2008 Beijing
About the Contractor
35. Which contractor has been chosen to build both the academy
and leisure centre?
The Leadbitter Group has been awarded the contract for this
project as they have the proven capability of delivering
36. How will local people find out about the works
As a considerate constructor, the Leadbitter Group will keep
local people informed through newsletters and bulletins, as well as
community open mornings. The dedicated community contact number is
37. Will noise and dust levels be closely monitored?
During construction, noise will be strictly monitored and
controlled. The construction methods used on these projects will
reduce the need for noisy work, and hoardings erected around the
site will provide further control.
The transmission of dust, particularly during the demolition of
the existing leisure central, will be controlled by using water
38. How will vehicle movements be controlled on site?
Vehicle movements to and from the site will be strictly
controlled, and deliveries will be required to arrive at particular
times when they can be immediately directed onto site. No delivery
vehicle will be allowed to park on the street. They will also not
be allowed to leave the site in an uncontrolled manner – all
vehicles will be released one by one to ensure local roads are not
39. What is the timeline for works?
A phased construction programme is now underway and enabling
works have already begun. The Silchester Road Car Park at the back
of Kensington Leisure Centre and the centre’s three small
artificial football pitches are now closed. The new leisure centre
is scheduled to be completed by late autumn 2014 and the academy to
open in September 2014.
40. What is Kensington Leisure Centre’s last day of
Kensington Leisure Centre’s last day of business will be Monday
24 December 2012.
41. What will happen to my Kensington Leisure Centre
Current members will be able to transfer to other Greenwich
Leisure Limited (GLL) facilities in neighbouring boroughs.
KALC Programme Board Minutes
42. What are the contact details for the project?
You can continue to email the Council with your support,
questions and concerns firstname.lastname@example.org or
by writing to:
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Att: Shelley Gittens
Second Floor Town Hall
To contact the Leadbitter Group’s Community Engagement Team
please call 07917 035096.