Last Minute Free School chaos in Bradford leaves concerns over Brentwood

Yesterday it emerged that the “One in a Million” free school planned to be located within Bradford City’s football ground had had its funding pulled by the DfE just a week before it was due to open. With some 30 out of a possible 50 Year 7 children expecting to start at the school next week the DfE bizarrely cited numbers as the reason for the decision.

The school, which had builders on site until last week and had already offered jobs to teachers, reacted angrily to the DfE’s decision:
Obviously we are amazed at this decision particularly at such a late stage And although ‘low’ student numbers have been cited and we have had to watch some parents walk away due to the insecurity surrounding Funding Agreement and Facility acquisition, as a small school we still have nearly two thirds of our places filled with 30 students committed to start on the 3 September 2012.
They went on to cite the Beccles Free School decision as a reason why they should open which I can certainly understand as the DfE’s decision making seems massively inconsistent:
We know of at least two examples of Free Schools where one opened last year with 34 students and have just been awarded a second school to open in September 2013 and also one which had 37 places allocated and had Funding Agreement sign off in May this year by the Secretary of State, with the expected increase in student recruitment that this security would bring
Apparently the DfE want the school to consider opening in 2013 but the proposers are undecided and say they would want more guarantees from the DfE. They are working with understandably upset  parents to ensure all children have a place for the start of term.

Maybe if they do decide to bid again next year they might focus less on “gimmicks” like free iPads and more on their educational offering.


Meanwhile in Essex the controversial  Becket Keys School in Brentwood has yet to confirm that it has signed a funding agreement. The campaign group Educating Brentwood reported today that they have “closed down” their Facebook Page.


Neither the school nor the DfE would answer questions about the funding agreement although the school keeps insisting it will open on 1 September. This has led to speculation that Becket Keys might be headed the same way as “One In A Million” and will end up not opening. The total silence from the proposers at a time that you would think they would want to be re-assuring parents is certainly strange.

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