New primary school for King’s Cross – and a new building for Frank Barnes pupils

A new primary school in Camden - King’s Cross Academy - has opened in a brand new building shared with Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children.

The two schools, co-located in the heart of the King’s Cross development, are forging a close partnership where mainstream primary pupils and deaf children will share facilities such as their library, playground and dining hall.

Children and staff at both schools will learn British Sign Language, allowing pupils to communicate with each other. The new classrooms all have a specialist soundfield system to enhance teaching and learning.

For Frank Barnes, this marks the culmination of a long-standing commitment by Camden Council to provide a new school after children and staff moved to make way for UCL Academy. The schools’ move to the Plimsoll Building, beside the soon-to-open Gasholder Park, provides much-needed community and educational facilities in the heart of the new King’s Cross development.

The primary school has two reception classes for 60 children and will expand to serve 420 primary pupils, alongside its 26-place nursery. The Academy and Frank Barnes will be able to broaden children’s experiences by tapping into the many learning opportunities in the area and working with local organisations, such as Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design and businesses.

The new Academy is sponsored by the King’s Cross Academy Trust, formed by the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP), the owner and developer of the King’s Cross regeneration project, and Michael and Clara Freeman, who support schools, educational charities and universities. They have worked closely with Camden Council, Frank Barnes School and other partners to make the project happen.

Emyr Fairburn, headteacher of King’s Cross Academy, said: “The location and situation of the Academy is unique. Outside our school doors is a wealth of opportunity to enrich our curriculum. We are surrounded by world-class organisations and companies which will not only ensure our learning is purposeful but also introduce our children to the multitude of opportunities available in the world of work. Our aim is for all our children to become highly successful life-long learners, raise aspirations and develop into economically, socially and emotionally strong citizens of the future. Our location, together with our state-of-the-art building, gives us the raw tools to help us achieve this ambitious aim.

“Being co-located with Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children gives our pupils a unique opportunity to collaborate with the deaf community. All our children will learn British Sign Language from an early age that will allow them not only to communicate with the deaf but also help them become expressive, confident communicators. Our inclusive environment will allow learning opportunities and friendships to grow and give our children skills in communicating with a range of individuals from different backgrounds and with different needs.”

Karen Simpson, headteacher of Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children, said: “The co-location of Frank Barnes School and Kings Cross Academy is the realisation of a vision for a state-of-the-art school for the deaf that will serve generations of deaf children in the future. The school has been designed to include all the latest technology and high acoustic specifications to provide an excellent learning environment for all of the children in both schools.

“We are excited to be a part of a co-located school and also to be in such a vibrant re-developed area of London, with all the superb opportunities for learning it offers. We look forward to working in partnership with Kings Cross Academy and building on our outstanding teaching to create a rich, inclusive, multi-lingual (in English, British Sign Language, French and home languages) community together. We are also very grateful to Camden Council and KCCLP for sharing our vision and making it a reality. It highlights their commitment to invest in high quality education for children in Camden and for deaf children across the London region.”

Councillor Angela Mason CBE, Camden Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, said: “At a time when much of the education conversation is dominated by opposing ideologies, the new learning complex at King’s Cross shows what can be done when we work together. The combination of a state special school and a primary academy, sponsored by the developers of the fantastic King’s Cross development working closely with the local authority, creates a very exciting educational dynamic and great opportunities for our children, whose learning will also be enriched by partnership projects with presitigious organisations and businesses nearby.”

More information

  • Located just to the north of the Regent’s Canal, the Plimsoll Building is one of King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership’s most recent projects, on track for completion by the end of 2015. It is a pioneering model for high-density mixed-use development, combining in one building a great place to live and an inspiring new education campus. It will provide 178 open market apartments and 77 key worker apartments, located above an education campus that has been purpose-designed for the King’s Cross Academy and Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children.
  • Frank Barnes School was previously in temporary accommodation at the Jubilee Waterside Centre, which the Council has now made available to Abacus Belsize Primary School until their new Hampstead base is ready in 2017.