Burnley free school fears after site refused

The former Habergham High School site had been earmarked to become the new ‘free’ Burnley High School, but the move has been blocked by Lancashire County Council leader Jennifer Mein

The former Habergham High School site had been earmarked to become the new ‘free’ Burnley High School, but the move has been blocked by Lancashire County Council leader Jennifer Mein

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by

BURNLEY’S planned free school has been thrown into jeopardy after it was refused a lease for its preferred site.

Trustees of Burnley High School had hoped to use the old Habergham High School buildings, in Byron Street, from September.

But Lancashire County Council (LCC) leader Jennifer Mein has blocked the move, saying a new secondary school would have ‘a destabilising effect’ on the town’s education.

However the ‘Christian-ethos’ school, sponsored by Chapel Street Community Schools Trust, said it was still ‘absolutely confident’ of opening in September.

The refusal of a long-term lease is set to spark a legal tug-of-war between Labour-led LCC and the Department for Education (DfE), which could ask the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, to intervene.

Coun Mein said: “I have taken this decision on the basis that Burnley does not need any additional secondary school places and that the establishment of a new school would have a destabilising effect on the existing high schools in the borough.”

A report containing the full details of the decision has been withheld by LCC because it ‘contains exempt information’.

Burnley High School, which was given the go-ahead by the DfE last May, had hoped to welcome an initial intake of 90 Year 7 pupils in the autumn, but refused to reveal how many applications it had received so far.

Dr Russell Rook, chief executive officer at Chapel Street, said: “We are absolutely confident of opening in September.

“We have had another open evening recently with 50 parents turning up. This shows that parents are excited.

“I think any project involving opening a new school has complexities. We are used to having dialogue and arrangements with local authorities and communities.

“We, and the DfE, are very experienced in this and we want to make it work.”

A DfE spokeswoman said it could use ‘scheming powers’ afforded to it by the Academies Act 2010 to acquire the Habergham High School site.

The spokeswoman said Schedule 1 of the Act allowed the Secretary of State to ‘compulsorily acquire’ land formerly used as a school for use by academies and free schools.

She added: “We are absolutely committed to ensuring Burnley High School opens in September 2014 “We are yet to receive confirmation from Lancashire County Council on their decision. If they choose not to agree the site in question, it does not stop it being transferred and this process is underway.”

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “I’m aware the county council are intending to stop this happening for political reasons.

“The aim of the county council is to sell the land for housing, which the residents of Byron Street and Kiddrow Lane don’t want. ”

Comments (9)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

4:10pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Loving lances says...

Small-minded council leader.
Small-minded council leader. Loving lances
  • Score: 12

4:39pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Timefor says...

Well done CC Mein - about time you lot stood up for the majority. Good to see. Now, if you can continue in this vein by, say, taking a stand against austerity, introducing no cuts and halting the destruction of our public services well, who knows, maybe folk'll once again begin to think that the labour party is indeed about supporting ordinary people.
Well done CC Mein - about time you lot stood up for the majority. Good to see. Now, if you can continue in this vein by, say, taking a stand against austerity, introducing no cuts and halting the destruction of our public services well, who knows, maybe folk'll once again begin to think that the labour party is indeed about supporting ordinary people. Timefor
  • Score: -11

5:42pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Colneunitedfc says...

Stood up for the majority ? Really ??? Hardly a stance when it's obvious the land is wanted for houses instead of a new exciting project that's trying to re invigorate education in the town
Stood up for the majority ? Really ??? Hardly a stance when it's obvious the land is wanted for houses instead of a new exciting project that's trying to re invigorate education in the town Colneunitedfc
  • Score: 10

5:53pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Timefor says...

Colneunitedfc wrote:
Stood up for the majority ? Really ??? Hardly a stance when it's obvious the land is wanted for houses instead of a new exciting project that's trying to re invigorate education in the town
Yep, the majority of people in the town and, of course, the education costs/budgets now and in the future - our money..

"A new exciting project"? Now I know that you're taking the whotsit, aren't you just.

If it's such a good idea that's so well supported why not just set up a private school? At least this way our children's education will continue to be funded and even more cuts introduced to service, what, a whim? A vanity? Most certainly something which is unproven and, from many accounts, quickly falling into disrepute across the country.
[quote][p][bold]Colneunitedfc[/bold] wrote: Stood up for the majority ? Really ??? Hardly a stance when it's obvious the land is wanted for houses instead of a new exciting project that's trying to re invigorate education in the town[/p][/quote]Yep, the majority of people in the town and, of course, the education costs/budgets now and in the future - our money.. "A new exciting project"? Now I know that you're taking the whotsit, aren't you just. If it's such a good idea that's so well supported why not just set up a private school? At least this way our children's education will continue to be funded and even more cuts introduced to service, what, a whim? A vanity? Most certainly something which is unproven and, from many accounts, quickly falling into disrepute across the country. Timefor
  • Score: -7

6:21pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Colneunitedfc says...

Firstly - the school is not a private school for the very reason it's opening - it's a free faith school that's open to all - the only non catholic Christian school in burnley and Pendle - the problem with low numbers in Burnley schools is not down to the opening of a new school - it's down to the failings of the school and to the disillusioned parents who want change
Secondly - the project based learning is proven across many successful nations far bigger than our own - students are expected to learn in exactly the same way they did 50 years ago - why ?? Times have moved on - we live in the most stimulating times in history why should we expect kids to sit back and learn in the same fashion as they did in 1964?
Thirdly - falling into disrepute ?? What examples have you of this ??
Firstly - the school is not a private school for the very reason it's opening - it's a free faith school that's open to all - the only non catholic Christian school in burnley and Pendle - the problem with low numbers in Burnley schools is not down to the opening of a new school - it's down to the failings of the school and to the disillusioned parents who want change Secondly - the project based learning is proven across many successful nations far bigger than our own - students are expected to learn in exactly the same way they did 50 years ago - why ?? Times have moved on - we live in the most stimulating times in history why should we expect kids to sit back and learn in the same fashion as they did in 1964? Thirdly - falling into disrepute ?? What examples have you of this ?? Colneunitedfc
  • Score: 11

4:30am Tue 18 Mar 14

Timefor says...

Colneunitedfc, I guess you wouldn't subscribe to the view that free schools are just a free alternative to fee paying establishments for middle-class families and, therefore, add yet another difficulty to the provision of good education for all. Or, for that matter, that neither they nor, "faith schools" go any way towards developing our Education system which is either in or is fast approaching crisis given the scale and ferocity of austerity budgets and the cuts?

Tempting as it is to list the failures and failings of so-called, "free schools" and thereby simply add to the list of failures previously identified in this paper and others, maybe a reference to the report of the National Audit Office from December last year will suffice? Here is the link: www.nao.org.uk/wp-co
ntent/uploads/2013/1
2/10314-001-Free-Sch
ools-Book.pdf

Nah, self-interest and selfishness is what we're talking about here eh? We need to get back to good neighbourhood schooling, local schooling on the doorstep, accessible by all, open to all, and giving opportunities for all.

You may think that free schools being free from local authority "interference" is a good thing, but I would like to point out that they are not free from taxpayer funding and, therefore, are no more than another example of this government's ideology of private good-public bad. An idea which is quickly unravelling and, simply, should be stopped.
Colneunitedfc, I guess you wouldn't subscribe to the view that free schools are just a free alternative to fee paying establishments for middle-class families and, therefore, add yet another difficulty to the provision of good education for all. Or, for that matter, that neither they nor, "faith schools" go any way towards developing our Education system which is either in or is fast approaching crisis given the scale and ferocity of austerity budgets and the cuts? Tempting as it is to list the failures and failings of so-called, "free schools" and thereby simply add to the list of failures previously identified in this paper and others, maybe a reference to the report of the National Audit Office from December last year will suffice? Here is the link: www.nao.org.uk/wp-co ntent/uploads/2013/1 2/10314-001-Free-Sch ools-Book.pdf Nah, self-interest and selfishness is what we're talking about here eh? We need to get back to good neighbourhood schooling, local schooling on the doorstep, accessible by all, open to all, and giving opportunities for all. You may think that free schools being free from local authority "interference" is a good thing, but I would like to point out that they are not free from taxpayer funding and, therefore, are no more than another example of this government's ideology of private good-public bad. An idea which is quickly unravelling and, simply, should be stopped. Timefor
  • Score: -3

12:03pm Tue 18 Mar 14

janee says...

"We have had another open evening recently with 50 parents turning up. This shows that parents are excited." No it only means that people wanted to know what was going on. In other areas, people have come up from such meetings and joined those campaigning against the proposal. It is because of claims like this that so many "free" schools have too few pupils to make economic or educational sense.

As Timefor says: this is self-interest and has nothing to do with sensible educational planning - it is also taking millions out of the education for other children.
"We have had another open evening recently with 50 parents turning up. This shows that parents are excited." No it only means that people wanted to know what was going on. In other areas, people have come up from such meetings and joined those campaigning against the proposal. It is because of claims like this that so many "free" schools have too few pupils to make economic or educational sense. As Timefor says: this is self-interest and has nothing to do with sensible educational planning - it is also taking millions out of the education for other children. janee
  • Score: -3

2:39pm Tue 18 Mar 14

DaveBurnley says...

These 'free schools' don't have to follow the National Curriculum. We have been told repeatedly by various governments that the National Curriculum is vital to our children's learning, yet they can ignore it if they feel like it.

Also most parents would like to think that their child is being taught by a professional, qualified teacher. That's not compulsory either in the free schools, your local postman or street sweeper is adequately qualified to teach in a free school.

The government love them because is a way to potentially reduce costs. They couldn't care less about your child's education because they know that their own children won't be sent to a free school.

The real likelihood is that firms like Capita, G4S, Serco and A4E will eventually end up running these schools, having bought the firms that are running them. Then we will see how well the education system can work under their brilliant rule.
These 'free schools' don't have to follow the National Curriculum. We have been told repeatedly by various governments that the National Curriculum is vital to our children's learning, yet they can ignore it if they feel like it. Also most parents would like to think that their child is being taught by a professional, qualified teacher. That's not compulsory either in the free schools, your local postman or street sweeper is adequately qualified to teach in a free school. The government love them because is a way to potentially reduce costs. They couldn't care less about your child's education because they know that their own children won't be sent to a free school. The real likelihood is that firms like Capita, G4S, Serco and A4E will eventually end up running these schools, having bought the firms that are running them. Then we will see how well the education system can work under their brilliant rule. DaveBurnley
  • Score: -5

9:13am Mon 24 Mar 14

Mrpipinfort says...

As a parent who will be sending my child to Burnley High School in September, I think it’s high time that some of the fabrications and misinformation about the school are corrected. Burnley High School will ONLY employ fully qualified teachers, both its Executive Principal (who is so good she is an Ofsted inspector) and the Head of School are outstanding and highly experienced professionals with superb track records. The school will welcome Ofsted inspections (which I’m sure will underline how good it is in the future) and the school will be following the National Curriculum. Regarding the site of the school, I understand that there is now a statutory process taking place between Lancashire County Council and the Department for Education for the site to be acquired by the school. As the statement from the Department for Education says, “If they (Lancashire County Council) choose not to agree the site in question, it does not stop it being transferred and this process is underway.” I am delighted, therefore, that at long last there will be a secondary school in Burnley in which parents can be confident and I’m looking forward to Burnley High School opening its doors to the first group of Year 7 students in September which will include my child.
As a parent who will be sending my child to Burnley High School in September, I think it’s high time that some of the fabrications and misinformation about the school are corrected. Burnley High School will ONLY employ fully qualified teachers, both its Executive Principal (who is so good she is an Ofsted inspector) and the Head of School are outstanding and highly experienced professionals with superb track records. The school will welcome Ofsted inspections (which I’m sure will underline how good it is in the future) and the school will be following the National Curriculum. Regarding the site of the school, I understand that there is now a statutory process taking place between Lancashire County Council and the Department for Education for the site to be acquired by the school. As the statement from the Department for Education says, “If they (Lancashire County Council) choose not to agree the site in question, it does not stop it being transferred and this process is underway.” I am delighted, therefore, that at long last there will be a secondary school in Burnley in which parents can be confident and I’m looking forward to Burnley High School opening its doors to the first group of Year 7 students in September which will include my child. Mrpipinfort
  • Score: 17

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree