A bid to set up a free school in Richmond has been rejected amid claims applicants did not show enough evidence of demand for school places - despite the fact 51 children across the borough had no allocated school place less than three months ago.

The Government’s Department for Education (DfE) stated one reason for rejecting the application was “there was not enough evidence of demand for school places in Richmond”.

Mother-of-two Kate King, 25, of Staines Road, said her work as a nanny indicated it was “simply inaccurate” to say there was not enough demand.

She said: “Parents want the best places so there’s always demand for more option.

“I’d be interested to try free schools for my own children. I think the majority of parents would take up the opportunity to have more control. I’m surprised they’d turn the application down.”

Applicants behind the Richmond free school applied for to be considered for facility funding in June, with hopes it would open this September. According to their website one preferred site for the school was potentially Twickenham’s former Royal Mail sorting office site.

But when the DfE officially announced the country’s 24 successful free school bids on Sunday, August 28, Richmond was not listed.

Applicants sent an email to prospective parents which read: “This was obviously disappointing, especially as we had made some very positive headway with Richmond Council on the provision of a site.

“We have had some feedback from the DfE, who were of the opinion that the capacity and capability of our proposal team was strong, but were concerned that there was not enough evidence of demand for school places in Richmond, nor did they think that our educational vision was clear when it came to catering for the needs of pupils of different abilities.”

The email confirmed intentions to consider re-applying for a 2013 opening dependant on feedback from the DfE, the council and parents.

Councillor Paul Hodgins, Richmond’s cabinet member for schools, said: “It is important to note that Richmond primary schools are heavily oversubscribed and the council has in place a primary schools expansion strategy to address this in the short- medium- and long-term future.

“The council is also committed to working with suitable partners who wish to set up free schools and will continue to work to ensure a diversity of high quality provision within the borough.”