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Ixworth: Free School will be the fourth to open in area of surplus pupil places

12:44 14 February 2014

Ixworth Free School will be located on the site of Ixworth Middle School

Ixworth Free School will be located on the site of Ixworth Middle School

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.”

4 comments

  • Clearly no local knowledge on the part of the researchers for this article. This headline is a ridiculous statement as the opening of the Free School is coinciding with SOR in this pyramid. 700 new secondary places are going to have to be created at the local high school anyway because the middle schools are closing! So whether they are created at the existing school or at the New Free School makes no difference. The 374 spare places spread across a 20 mile radius are irrelevant as the secondary school for this pyramid has to provide places to cover the feeder schools. Transition would be a nightmare if children were shipped off to different pyramids just to fill spare places, and can you imagine the cost to the LA, getting them there? It's just nonsense! The Free School proposal has actually meant a better deal for all the kids in this pyramid as the original proposal for the existing high school was to develop a split site 11-16 school across Thurston and Beyton, because the Thurston site wasn't big enough to expand to take the extra pupils. This idea was deeply unpopular amongst parents. Everyone is delighted that due to the Free School Proposal Thurston have been able to continue to offer places to all the 11-16 pupils on one site at Thurston. So the Free School Supporters get the choice that they wanted and the majority of parents that still want to send their kids to Thurston, now get a proposal that they are happy with too. It was always planned by the local authority to have two secondary schools in this pyramid for SOR but with the removal of central funding for LA's to develop new schools, the only way to secure funding for this area was a Free School proposal. I suggest that the Ipswich Star talk to the local schools and parents rather than be fed the propaganda that the anti free school brigade have clearly duped you with. I hope you will correct the misinformation in your article.

    Report this comment

    Moo Davis

    Monday, February 17, 2014

  • This is just one reason why Gove's education policies are a disaster. How can any school plan its staffing level when they have no idea how many pupils they will lose? And what a total waste of money creating new schools where they are not needed. Planning becomes impossible, it's just another part of the plan to break up local authorities and remove any power from teacher unions who, despite public opinion out about by the right wing press, know rather more about teaching and education than Gove.

    Report this comment

    Andrew Manning

    Friday, February 14, 2014

  • Clearly no local knowledge on the part of the researchers for this article. This headline is a ridiculous statement as the opening of the Free School is coinciding with SOR in this pyramid. 700 new secondary places were going to have to be created at the local high school anyway because the middle schools are closing! So whether they are created there or at the New Free School makes no difference. The 400 spare places spread across a 20 mile radius are irrelevant as the secondary school for this pyramid has to provide places to cover the feeder schools. Transition would be a nightmare if children were shipped off to different pyramids just to fill spare places, and can you imagine the cost to the LA, getting them there? It's just nonsense! The Free School proposal has actually meant a better deal for all the kids in this pyramid as the original proposal for the existing high school was to develop a split site 11-16 school across Thurston and Beyton, because the Thurston wasn't big enough to expand to take the extra pupils. This idea was deeply unpopular amongst parents. Everyone is delighted that due to the Free School Proposal Thurston have been able to continue to offer places to all the 11-16 pupils on one site at Thurston. So the Free School Supporters get the choice that they wanted and the majority of parents that still want to send their kids to Thurston, now get a proposal that they are happy with too. It was always planned by the local authority to have two secondary schools in this pyramid for SOR but with the removal of central funding for LA's to develop new schools, the only way to secure funding for this area was a Free School proposal. I suggest that EADT talk to the local schools and parents rather than be fed the propaganda that the anti free school brigade have clearly duped you with. I hope you will correct the misinformation in your article.

    Report this comment

    Moo Davis

    Monday, February 17, 2014

  • Free Schools remind me of Tesco, always opening where there is enough already in the hope of making some money.

    Report this comment

    Citizen

    Friday, February 14, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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