Stories + Views
Free School to Exclude Poorer Children Nearby
This article is reproduced with permission from the No to Kings School, Hove web site. It describes how the decision of the school to base its catchment area on its original site (2.5 miles from the current one) excludes the local poorer community:
At last night’s King’s School prospective parent evening at Aldrington School, the King’s team admitted that the chances of getting their preferred site of King Alfred were “very low”. Despite this, the school will still use King Alfred as the location for their catchment area. Up to fifty percent of places at King’s School will be open to children from families of no faith or other faith. These will be offered in order of distance from the school. The school’s prospectus states:
“…if the school becomes oversubscribed, which is likely, half of the available places will be offered in order of distance from the school (in the first year, we will use our preferred site, the King Alfred, as our reference point for this) and the remaining half will be offered using a church reference.”
We think it is very cynical to use the more affluent King Alfred catchment, rather than their likely actual location. Brighton and Hove Council have offered the school Portslade Sixth Form Site – about two and a half miles from King Alfred. The families that live close to King Alfred are unquestionably more affluent than those who live in Portslade.
So how does this exclude poorer children? We know there are no shortage of parents prepared to feign a faith to get their children into what they perceive to be a better school. Typically these parents are from the so-called sharp-elbowed middle class. King’s School will also prioritise those from more affluent homes for their non-faith intake. Combine these two ways of prioritising the majority of their pupils and King’s School will effectively have a gated community of non-diverse, middle class children to teach. It’s a scandalous abuse of public funds – and completely at odds with the stated intent of Free Schools to help improve education in deprived areas.
We’ve noticed a question on the King’s School Facebook page from a Portslade-based parent querying the use of King Alfred as the point to measure distance. It’s five days old and still remains unanswered. Not surprising King’s School might not want to draw attention to this particular sleight of hand.
We should point out that King’s School may yet be located at King Alfred, and there is the possibility of their finding their own premises much closer to King Alfred than the Portslade Sixth Form Site, however for now it feels very cynical and self-serving.