On the surface the new free school in Bedford
seems to have a fair admissions’ policy; for one year only it will be outside the admissions’ process of the local authority. It states that this is its admissions policy. Preference will given in this order:
(a) “Looked after” children.
(b) Children whose home is in the catchment area (the town of Kempston)
(c)Other children who currently attend, and have attended for at least one academic year, either Daubeney or Robert Bruce Middle Schools
(d)Any other children.
It’s clear though that the school will appeal overwhelmingly to the white middle-class parents in an area which is composed of high proportions of pupils on Free School Meals (FSM) and from backgrounds where English is an Additional Language (EAL). The stated curriculum shares quite a bit with Toby Young’s free school in the way it sends coded messages that pupils from non-academic backgrounds are not very welcome. Their website
does not include any translations into community languages and uses a mode of discourse which I’m increasingly recognising as containing the subtext of “poor pupils won’t have a nice time here”; phrases like a “different and rigorous approach to schooling and standards” are used.