Ixworth Free School to open a year early?

Last week a small meeting took place in Barningham where some significant revelations were made about the plans for Ixworth Free School. A member of the public who attended the meeting has provided a detailed report of what was discussed.

Most significantly the proposers suggested they may try and open the school in 2013. That is a year before the Middle Schools are planned to close. The suggestion is that the 11-16 free school would retain a Year 6 class (for 10/11 year olds) for one year only.

The implications of this are discussed in the report:
It is obviously a good way of trying to ensure that parents don’t want to move their children to Thurston Community College at the end of Year 6. After all, those children will have been at the free school (with its new school uniform etc) for a year. It would be a difficult decision to move them at that point. 
Doing this ensures that the school is full in its first few years; something that the free school in Clare has struggled to achieve. But it also means that we already know the pupils that will fill it. There will be no space for children from Stanton, for example. And given the proximity element of the admissions criteria (see below), no children from further afield would get a place. 
The implication of this is that the school ceases to be about increasing choice for parents in the Thurston pyramid, but securing places for Ixworth children before they are even of secondary age.
The other key news that was broken at this meeting was that the "preferred site" was Ixwoth. Well we say this was news but this rather confirms what I suggested on my blog last week following the letter written by Matthew Hancock in September. The group issued a denial at the time from Hancock claiming both Ixworth and Stanton were being looked at  but it has always been clear to me the school will be at Ixworth.

There was also information on admissions that parents in the Thurston pyramid might be interested in. The admissions criteria looks to be (1) Children with Special Needs Statements (2) Siblings of existing pupils (3) Distance to the school.

This combined with the planned early opening really bely the truth of this proposal. That it really is intended to "save" Ixwoth Middle School.

The "benefits" to the rest of the area are likely to be marginal and for the Beyton area it could well cause further disruption. If the free school ends up resulting in the Beyton annexe to Thurston Community College closing then there could well be more disruption to children from that area if there is a need for them to move to Thurston.

Now what was all that about "choice"?
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