Revealed: The done deal on Ixworth Free School and Thurston Partnership
|Michael Gove MP|
On 14th September there was a meeting in London with Secretary of State Michael Gove, Matthew Hancock MP, David Ruffley MP and Suffolk Education portfolio holder Graham Newman where a deal was done. Newman describes the deal in an email to a St Edmundsbury District councillor:
I am aware of this, but we would not have managed to get Academy status for Ixworth and Beyton Middle schools (thus thwarting SOR) without Matt's & David's personal intervention with Michael Gove, albeit with me in the room.
Cllr Graham Newman
A Free School for 11-16 year olds is a quid pro quo offered by Matt to the Secretary of State, which was well received.The wording is a bit unclear but what Newman means is Gove turned down the academy status applications made by the Middle Schools and the "quid pro quo" is the free school.
|David Ruffley MP|
There is route through all this.
We support the local schools preferred approach and go for a single Thurston 11-18 using Beyton. This is most affordable, quickest and pragmatic. That would allow someone, perhaps including the Cof E to bring forward a free school application for either Ixworth or Stanton. If that had support then DfE would provide the funding and a few years later Thurston could consolidate on one site and we'd get a capital receipt for Beyton.
|Matthew Hancock MP|
The capital monies available for the free school and re-organisation should be given to the local schools to spend under the auspices of the County Council without the "strings attached" from the Government of having to set up an additional "free school". Vested interests such as closing schools and their senior staff and politicians should not be the ones driving these changes. It is the educational interests of the children that should prevail not the political will of adults.
The question is should these four men - Gove, Newman, Hancock and Ruffley - decide what happens to local schools in secret meetings or is there a better way?
Tomorrow my reports on the free school and Thurston partnership proposals continue with a look at just what was described as "shaby, expensive, second best!" and by who...