St Luke’s CE School, and its short history, is unique! It opened in September 2011 as the first Church of England Free School in the country.
In 2010 there was a severe shortage of primary school places in the London Borough of Camden and the North West of the borough, where St Luke’s Church is located, was a particular pinch point. In Spring 2010 the Department of Education set out how local groups could serve their communities by setting up new state funded independent schools where there was a proven need.
A local group from St Luke’s Church coordinated an application to convert the extensive church halls to set up a new school to serve the local community. A whirlwind of activity took the group from making its application in July 2010 through to being announced as one of just 16 successful proposals nationally in September 2010 through to signing a funding agreement in April 2011. Building work started in May 2011 and opened the doors to the first Reception class in September 2011.
The project was a partnership between St Luke’s Church and the local supporters group, who ultimately formed the core of the first Governing Body. The London Diocesan Board for Schools provided a range of support including project management, are still involved through representation on the governing body and through the provision of school support and advisory services.
On 9th September 2012 the school was officially opened by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres. The official opening was marked by a service and reception attended by a large cross section of the local community, including parents, pupils and churchgoers from St Luke’s. At the service the Chair of Governors, Penny Roberts, was awarded the St Mellitus medal as thanks to the school’s first governing body and staff for all their hard work.
At the service the Bishop of London said: “St Luke’s School is an illustration of the historic purpose of Church of England schools to serve the whole community. Church members who have contributed hours of voluntary effort to set up the first free school in the Diocese, have done so in the knowledge that none of their own children will be eligible to attend because of the strict admissions criterion which is based solely on how far children live from the school. This excellent school is a contribution to provision in the borough of Camden which is currently over 150 places short for children of reception class age. I found my visit inspiring.”