It always seem to me that when we talk about the Free school proposal of Marylebone Boys School, the ghost of St Marylebone Grammar School returns to haunt us. I can well remember its closure in 1981 as many of its boys ended by in my own secondary school Quintin Kynaston (QK) up the road. I had earlier turned it down as a school for my secondary school, largely due to its obvious decline as the last intake went through the years with no one else coming in behind them. I felt well vindicated by my decision with my parents, when l saw the boys eventually ending up in local comprehensives like QK & Pimlico to do their A levels when the school closed.
One thing was apparent with these boys, their keeness to join co-ed schools and thus mixed intakes with girls. As a result l have never been sure that a demand exists for single sex boys schools in the same way that it does with single sex girls schools, certainly with the pupils themselves. This is of course being one of the main arguments put by the promoters of Marylebone Boys School as a free school proposal to the Department of Education. So l don’t think parental choice is such that it necessarily takes up the best interest of the students themselves.
As for the cost at some £ 50 million capital cost, thats most certainly more than the annual budgets the Council spends all the rest of the schools in Westminster under its management, helps put into context what the relative price is for this increased choice for a few parents & children in the City.
Even if you accept the idea of the need of a boys secondary school in the City of Westminster where would you locate it? Clearly the name leads itself to Marylebone on sites like Moxon Street & Cosway Street, the latter being where the Grammar schools science block used to be. Both sites till recently had educational use status as well. Alas the Council has not been terribly keen on either proposal given the values of the site as residential now with Moxon St valued at some £250 million to help the council’s finances.
Now we hear that the school has been given a site in Paddington Green to develop as a new school facility whilst being temporarily located in Kilburn at the start of the new term in September. Well thats all good and well but it strikes me that if its going to be located in Paddington, why not call it Paddington Boys School rather then Marylebone. That would at least be phyiscally accurate, as it is clearly no anyway remotely in Marylebone! How it can be suggested that its a site close to Old Marylebone Town Hall beats me.
So welcome Paddington Boys School from under the shadow of St Marylebone Grammar school!