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to tell what I know about this free school?

(31 Posts)
notagossip Thu 24-Oct-13 15:28:32

ok I've namechanged for this as I don't want to get anyone into hot water.
A couple of friends (mostly via FB in the last few years since we all went back to work) are talking about applying for places at a recently opened free school for their DCs for next year. This school opened in the building of a school that closed in July due to falling pupil numbers, however the free school claims this is a temporary measure and they are looking for land to build a brand new school, this is on their website and is what the staff and governors are telling parents. But I know this isn't true, the DfE have told the school that they will be staying where they are for they foreseeable future. Do I tell what I know? I don't want to get into a thing about the rights and wrongs of free schools but I do feel that the parents are being hugely misled and if I was considering this school I would be very angry if I found out I was being lied to. I know if do I speak up at least one of my friends will not apply to this school as she doesn't like the place where it is at the moment. Also most of the 30 kids already there use the free transport and this will become unavailable or have to be paid for by parents when the funding runs out.
Should I just keep out of it? I don't want to be caught in the middle of a big political ho-ha.

exexpat Thu 24-Oct-13 15:33:46

How do you know about this? Is it confidential information which would get you (or the person who told you) in trouble if it became known that you had been passing it on?

Salmotrutta Thu 24-Oct-13 15:35:15

I don't fully understand the "free" school thing as we don't have them up here (Scotland) but is it not the case that they aren't answerable to the DoE?

In which case they can build a new school if they want, and can find the funds?

curlew Thu 24-Oct-13 15:35:39

It depends how you know....

Alexandrite Thu 24-Oct-13 15:41:51

They are funded by the state aren't they? So wouldn't be able to build a new school if not funded by the state?

exexpat Thu 24-Oct-13 15:43:02

A free school that opened in my city, after much campaigning for a secondary school in a particular area with no secondary provision, opened 'temporarily' in a different area, while waiting for permission, building work etc to move into the premises of a closed-down private school. After it opened, the 'temporary' site became permanent (Hopes dashed for Bristol Free School), and there is still no secondary school in the area where parents were demanding it, so a new group has recently started another campaign for a different free school to use the old private school... I'll believe it when I see it.

Perhaps you should just advise your friends not to believe any promises without a cast-iron guarantee and proof of funding. Besides, planning and building a school takes years, so if they are applying for next year, surely their DCs would be nearly leaving by the time any new building could open?

ICameOnTheJitney Thu 24-Oct-13 15:51:01

The LEA say "for the forseeable future" which is not a definite "You will NEVER move" is it?

If it were, then the LEA would say "This site is permanent." or somesuch thing.

So considering the Free School say "This is temporary"'s just a different choice of words. One choice of words sways more in favour of moving and the other does not.

notagossip Thu 24-Oct-13 15:52:41

exexpat, if I tell my friends not to believe promises they will know that I 'know' something ( I can't really explain why without outing myself). I might try to bring that Bristol school link to their attention though, thanks.

Alexandrite Thu 24-Oct-13 15:56:13

Our local normal secondary school has been promised funding for a new canteen for years, but it hasn't happened. Maybe free schools find it easier to get funding for things. I don't know, but judging by the experience of the local non free school i mentioned above they shouldn't hold their breath

notagossip Thu 24-Oct-13 15:57:02

The LEA has nothing to do with this, it's the DfE who are funding this school directly, and I think the free school are dangling this 'new school building' carrot in the hope of boosting their numbers as they only received half the applications they expected this year.

Alexandrite Thu 24-Oct-13 15:57:55

The current government might be out in 1.5 years time, so who knows what will happen with funding of free schools then. I believe they won't get rid of existing ones, but nor sure about funding for new buildings

Floggingmolly Thu 24-Oct-13 15:58:42

Am I being dim by not getting what difference the actual premises makes?
Surely the ethos of a free school will be unchanged by where it's situated?
The West London Free School, Toby Young's brainchild, is still in temporary accommodation afaik.
Doesn't stop it from being vastly over subscribed.

Alexandrite Thu 24-Oct-13 16:05:40

I suppose it depends how bad the current premises are. There would come a point where it would affect learning

swampytiggaa Thu 24-Oct-13 16:27:34

Just had a free school open near us. In old school buildings with a promise of new ones to be built. Fewer children have started this year than anticipated... 30 rather than the 100 hoped for.

They seem to be in the paper a lot doing stuff obviously trying to boost numbers for next September.

I could have sent ds there. I felt uneasy about it last year... Those feelings are not going away now the school is open.

I would suggest caution if you can without dropping yourself in it.

notagossip Thu 24-Oct-13 16:36:15

swampytiggaa - it might be the same school. I suppose I'm hoping one of them will read this thread and get me out of this quandary wink

Thymeout Thu 24-Oct-13 17:17:19


'foreseeable future* in DfE speak means there are no plans in the pipeline to finance a new building. In other words, describing it as 'temporary' is wishful thinking and misleading.

exexpat Thu 24-Oct-13 17:41:23

Probably temporary in the same way that all the prefab classrooms set up in primary school playgrounds a decade (or two, or three, or four...) ago were a 'temporary' solution to the need for more space.

NotMeNotYouNotAnyone Thu 24-Oct-13 17:45:39

Just remind them how long planning applications and funding takes, plus time to actually build the thing! Their DCs will be in the temporary location for a significant amount of time.

hiddenhome Thu 24-Oct-13 17:47:15

Is this free school in Durham by any chance?

swampytiggaa Thu 24-Oct-13 17:53:53

Our free school is devon btw.

woodlandwanderwoman Thu 24-Oct-13 18:27:42

I think that anyone applying for a school would be well advised to do so on the basis that they are happy with how it currently stands, unless they are aware of any future changes that might be to it's detriment.

Any possible improvements in the future should be regarded as a bonus if there is no certainty.

It may be true that they are seeking a new site, but that doesn't mean anything and could take ten years.

If you REALLY want to do something about it I would probably suggest contacting the DfE as an interested prospective parent and verifying the information openly (pretend you don't know what you do now). They can then decide if the school is misleading people or not.

hiddenhome Thu 24-Oct-13 19:50:00

If it's the Durham one in Gilesgate, then I'm not connected to it in any way. I just know it because dh goes there for fencing.

nennypops Thu 24-Oct-13 20:22:50

Recent publicised disasters with free schools would make me very wary indeed. There just doesn't seem to be anything approaching adequate oversight from the DfE, and I don't understand why they are so hell-bent on prescribing the curriculum for mainstream schools whilst extolling the benefits of leaving free schools to do whatever they want. And I definitely can't see what the attraction of unqualified teachers is.

Mostly, though, it worries me that there is nothing in place to cover what happens if the whole things goes wrong. We've seen disasters with privatised care homes being asset-stripped and closed down, leaving very vulnerable people with nowhere to go, and I can't see that there is really adequate protection against this with free schools and academies.

Alexandrite Thu 24-Oct-13 20:25:07

If the previous school closed due to falling pupil numbers, then I suppose it is no surprise that the new free school in exactly the same place is only half full. I thought the idea of free schools was to provide schools in areas where there were not enough school places?

notagossip Thu 24-Oct-13 20:45:43

I hope you understand that I don't want to say where this school is or how I know what's what but thanks for your replies all the same. They have made me decide that I should say something before the LA admissions close next week in case they want to change their minds, I don't want to do it via FB so I will call one of them and suggest they contact the DfE as suggested by woodlandwanderwoman.
Bloody hell I feel like Edward Snowden sad

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