Local secondary under threat from possible free school

Carrie Ford's picture
I am a teacher and parent in the North of England. I live in a town with an under-performing secondary - there is currently no other viable choice for children, although the existing provision is under-subscribed. The school is working hard to turn itself around and has made progress in recent years.

There is an application, due to be submitted in 2012 for a small secondary to open in the area. It has a strong committee driving it and lots of parents are broadly in favour.

I am concerned (as are several others) that this school will impact negatively on the existing provision, both in terms of 'creaming off' all the middle-class, well-behaved, easy to teach kids, and financially, as the roles fall at the existing provision. One Governor estimates this could be to the tune of around a million pounds a year.

We want local parents to gear their efforts towards protecting and supporting the existing provision - this is where most of their children will end up providing the new school has an equal admissions policy (which is another cause for concern at the moment, as this is yet to be decided).
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Fiona Millar's picture
Mon, 16/05/2011 - 07:48

This case provides a very good example of why there should be consultation across a given area about what sort of school system parents want, rather than allowing the most vocal group to get their way. Maybe more changes need to take place within the existing provision, but that should be a discussion for all current and future parents, and teachers.
I would keep a close eye on the admissions arrangements of the new school if I were you, to ensure the new school isn't planning to socially engineer its intake and further disadvantage existing provision.

Sarah Dobbs's picture
Mon, 16/05/2011 - 09:16

Carrie - at the moment I am campaigning to try and stop academy proposals for our hometown. Do not rule out setting up an active parents group - we have had a degree of success that I did not feel possible when we first started. Although the decision is still to be made, we are putting a strong case against academies and it is being listened to. Please feel free to get in touch if I can be of any practical help in any way.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Mon, 16/05/2011 - 15:53

The great worry is that competition won't raise standards, but actually lower them because the aspirational parents will migrate to the free school, leaving the secondary to wither and die. This is why time and again research shows the free school programme doesn't work...

Fiona Lane's picture
Tue, 17/05/2011 - 08:45

We're in a different position where residents of East Reading will be forced to accept a free school or be left with nothing. Residents are to be forced out of the designated area of a local outstanding secondary school because it lies the other side of the borough boundary. We have been offered a school farther away which is "satisfactory", but this is merely temporary. The neighbouring borough has allowed huge quantities of new housing to be built, without providing adequate provision, ironically selling land for development after closing a secondary school! In a few years, none of the Reading children will have a secondary school at all. I feel we are being politically manipulated, but htere is no other option. Is the best we can do to have input into the free school to ensure a fair admissions policy and that it caters for a wide range of abilities in a diverse population?

Jane Eades's picture
Tue, 14/02/2012 - 13:02

My local secondary school has reported a reduced number of applicants as a result of the September 2012 opening of the Bolingbroke Academy. The existing school has been one of the most improved schools in the country and will, as a result of the reduced number, lose funding. We have a surplus of secondary places in the borough - to be increased by the Bolingbroke Academy and, yet still, have another "free" school proposal in Battersea and, of course, Katharine Birbalsingh still trying to put over 400 people out of work in her eagerness to grab a building in Tooting.

This is such a waste of money, apart from anything else.

Guest's picture
Tue, 14/02/2012 - 14:14


Fascinating. Where is the report? Could you share. Why are parents deserting the school you mention? When did they all leave ? How many left?

Or is this all made up conjecture?

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