March 8 2014 Latest news:
Friday, February 14, 2014
The fifth free school to open in Suffolk will be in an area of surplus pupil places, it has emerged.
Ixworth Free School will open its doors in September this year pending a funding agreement with the Department of Education.
The school will be located in the site of the former Ixworth Middle School, however figures held by Suffolk County Council show that of nine schools within a 20 mile radius of the site only two have a surplus of pupils.
Altogether the nine schools have a surplus of 374 places.
The Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust (SFFST), who will run Ixworth Free School, said the school was launched in response to parental demand.
In November last year the EADT revealed that all of the free schools opened in Suffolk in 2012 were sited in an area of surplus pupil places.
There are concerns that opening Beccles Free School, Saxmundham Free School and IES Breckland would exacerbate the problem of pupil deficit at neighbouring schools, affecting their viability.
The figures for the area surrounding Ixworth were submitted to a public consultation held by the SFFST into the proposed free school.
The Suffolk Coalition Opposing Free Schools (SCOFS) said: “(We do) not believe that the additional capacity created by the opening of IFS is sustainable in the long term.
“While there are places available at good and outstanding schools in the area, IFS is unlikely to represent good value for money. If a free school does not use the site, Suffolk County Council would be able to sell the site for a substantial capital receipt and invest the money in its schools for the benefit of all pupils.”
It is planned that Ixworth Free School will have a capacity of 600 pupils and in a consultation the SFFST said they had received 611 “expressions of interest” in school places.
The public consultation indicated overwhelming support for the school, with 72 of 81 responses in favour of its establishment.
Last month the SFFST announced that Nikola King would be the headteacher at the school.
Dr Robert Cawley, principal of the SFFST said: “There was a very clear demand in the Ixworth area from both parents and the community for the creation of opportunity and choice through the proposed Free School.
“There is a rise in the population forecast for this area so over time there would be a need for a new school. The proposed Ixworth Free School could help fulfil some of that demand.”