Campaign to stop Burnley's first free school launched

Lancashire Telegraph: Simon Jones Simon Jones

A CAMPAIGN against Burnley's first proposed free school has been launched by a council and union members.

As the end of the consultation period for the proposed Burnley High School approaches, concerns are now being voiced.

Faith groups, teachers and also representatives of major teaching unions, have joined with Burnley Council to oppose the plan The proposed school, which could open with as few as 60 pupils next September, at a projected cost of £5million, would be funded from a budget currently allocated to existing schools and colleges in the town.

Campaigners say they are protecting local schools as free schools in Blackburn have caused traditional schools to suffer.

NUT executive officer Simon Jones said: “Burnley must learn from the mistakes that Blackburn with Darwen has made on this issue where the introduction of five free schools has had a devastating effect on primary and secondary school provision.

“It has also severely limited the choices available to parents and children hoping to receive a high quality, community based education.”

Multi-faith organisation Building Bridges Group is also opposing the plans being proposed by Chapel Street Schools Trust.

Representative Bea Foster said: “If this proposal is not opposed, resources will be taken away from the majority of children in Burnley to fund a tiny minority.”

Robert Waring, from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “The harsh reality is that at a time when parents and children are being encouraged to make such an important decision about their 11 year olds’ educational future, this proposed school has no guarantee of funding, no confirmed site, a curriculum yet to be decided upon and teachers yet to be appointed.”

Burnley Council leader Julie Cooper said: ' It would be nonsense to divert £5million away from existing school budgets, placing them in real jeopardy, “ Chapel Street CEO, Dr Russell Rook said: “As with any other school, Burnley High School will receive government funding.

“So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The school is attractive to those families who are looking for a school that is smaller and uses personal coaching. We welcome families of all faiths and no faith.”

Comments (9)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

1:29pm Wed 11 Dec 13

DaveBurnley says...

This is another step towards privatising education. It will try to cream off the better pupils whilst leaving the rest to sink into the mire of underfunded education.
This is another step towards privatising education. It will try to cream off the better pupils whilst leaving the rest to sink into the mire of underfunded education. DaveBurnley

3:50pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Timefor says...

A couple of things strike me. First, faith schools seem to be socially divisive. In a recent commentary by the Christian think-tank, Ekklesia, there was a stand out, reported fact, "Comprehensive schools with no religious character typically admit 11% more pupils eligible for free school meals than would be expected given their areas. Religious comprehensives that do not select by religion typically admit 3% more, but those whose admissions criteria allow religious selection for all places typically admit 27% fewer".

And, secondly, these so-called "free schools" undermine our Education Authoritiy's planning and, therefore their fitness and ability to meet their statutory duty to provide a school place for every child. It is obvious, well, to me at least, that this type of patchwork development can only prevent them from doing this.
A couple of things strike me. First, faith schools seem to be socially divisive. In a recent commentary by the Christian think-tank, Ekklesia, there was a stand out, reported fact, "Comprehensive schools with no religious character typically admit 11% more pupils eligible for free school meals than would be expected given their areas. Religious comprehensives that do not select by religion typically admit 3% more, but those whose admissions criteria allow religious selection for all places typically admit 27% fewer". And, secondly, these so-called "free schools" undermine our Education Authoritiy's planning and, therefore their fitness and ability to meet their statutory duty to provide a school place for every child. It is obvious, well, to me at least, that this type of patchwork development can only prevent them from doing this. Timefor

4:50pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Mrpipinfort says...

I have attended all the parent meetings at the Life Church and have never once heard the people behind Burnley High School state that there is no faith provision in Burnley. All these meetings have been well supported by a large number of parents and their children. Given the initial success of the sister school in Atherton which I have visited on more than one occasion with my child I am more than happy to support this new school as an alternative to the choice currently available in Burnley. Should Burnley High School be unsuccessful I will be seeking to educate my child out of this borough.
I have attended all the parent meetings at the Life Church and have never once heard the people behind Burnley High School state that there is no faith provision in Burnley. All these meetings have been well supported by a large number of parents and their children. Given the initial success of the sister school in Atherton which I have visited on more than one occasion with my child I am more than happy to support this new school as an alternative to the choice currently available in Burnley. Should Burnley High School be unsuccessful I will be seeking to educate my child out of this borough. Mrpipinfort

7:09pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Mrpipinfort says...

I have to say that I'm very disappointed by the one sided reporting of the new proposed Burnley High School, only the opposing arguments & inaccurate facts are being published.How about giving a voice in the media to the organisations behind the school. Have the Chapel Street foundation nothing to say? or are they not being allowed to respond via the media?As I've seen commented elsewhere the opposition seems very politically motivated.Come on Lancashire Telegraph, let's see what representatives from the proposed school have to say.
I have to say that I'm very disappointed by the one sided reporting of the new proposed Burnley High School, only the opposing arguments & inaccurate facts are being published.How about giving a voice in the media to the organisations behind the school. Have the Chapel Street foundation nothing to say? or are they not being allowed to respond via the media?As I've seen commented elsewhere the opposition seems very politically motivated.Come on Lancashire Telegraph, let's see what representatives from the proposed school have to say. Mrpipinfort

11:19am Fri 13 Dec 13

ClaretSince94 says...

Mrpipinfort wrote:
I have to say that I'm very disappointed by the one sided reporting of the new proposed Burnley High School, only the opposing arguments & inaccurate facts are being published.How about giving a voice in the media to the organisations behind the school. Have the Chapel Street foundation nothing to say? or are they not being allowed to respond via the media?As I've seen commented elsewhere the opposition seems very politically motivated.Come on Lancashire Telegraph, let's see what representatives from the proposed school have to say.
Are you kidding? I've been following news on this for a while as I work in education in Burnley - nothing but positive things have been publicised about this Free School up until a few days ago, despite widespread opposition.

What are the "politically motivated" arguments against the Free School? There are 700 empty places in the already existing, multi-million pound secondary schools in Burnley (more once the, also unnecessary financial blackhole, UTC gets up to speed). That's not inaccurate, that's fact. Why spend (an initial) £5 million pounds opening another? Where is the reasonable demand?

Not to mention that every Christian church in Burnley is opposed to this, with the exception of the Life Church (and why may that be, when they have their unfinished church at Gannow Baths needing finance, I wonder...?).

So come on Mrpipinfort, let's hear your reasoning for this? Beyond some some successful school in another part of the country what reasons do you have for thinking this is something worth spending (an initial) £5 million on?
[quote][p][bold]Mrpipinfort[/bold] wrote: I have to say that I'm very disappointed by the one sided reporting of the new proposed Burnley High School, only the opposing arguments & inaccurate facts are being published.How about giving a voice in the media to the organisations behind the school. Have the Chapel Street foundation nothing to say? or are they not being allowed to respond via the media?As I've seen commented elsewhere the opposition seems very politically motivated.Come on Lancashire Telegraph, let's see what representatives from the proposed school have to say.[/p][/quote]Are you kidding? I've been following news on this for a while as I work in education in Burnley - nothing but positive things have been publicised about this Free School up until a few days ago, despite widespread opposition. What are the "politically motivated" arguments against the Free School? There are 700 empty places in the already existing, multi-million pound secondary schools in Burnley (more once the, also unnecessary financial blackhole, UTC gets up to speed). That's not inaccurate, that's fact. Why spend (an initial) £5 million pounds opening another? Where is the reasonable demand? Not to mention that every Christian church in Burnley is opposed to this, with the exception of the Life Church (and why may that be, when they have their unfinished church at Gannow Baths needing finance, I wonder...?). So come on Mrpipinfort, let's hear your reasoning for this? Beyond some some successful school in another part of the country what reasons do you have for thinking this is something worth spending (an initial) £5 million on? ClaretSince94

12:42pm Fri 13 Dec 13

Interlocutor says...

If you insist on indoctrinating your children with some religion or other, do it on your own time and dollar. The state should not be funding religious propaganda, whether in state schools, academies or free schools. Education is for the child, not the parent.
If you insist on indoctrinating your children with some religion or other, do it on your own time and dollar. The state should not be funding religious propaganda, whether in state schools, academies or free schools. Education is for the child, not the parent. Interlocutor

12:50pm Sun 15 Dec 13

Richard Soles says...

Free Schools are established across the country where there is compelling evidence of a need and where independent schools have converted to state funded (free schools). Most primary Free Schools are in areas that need extra school places. The estimated total capital costs for Schools opened in districts with no forecast need for extra school places are at least £241 million.
Parents surveyed outside the primary school gates by Chapel Street and LifeChurch reported that they would be interested in sending their child to Burnley High School, were they told that it was Free School? I suggest that most parents would want to send their children to a high school not necessarily this one. Some parents attended the "open evening" at least twice and I suggest the estimate of three hundred is overestimated.
Which parents and carers wouldn't express a desire for a smaller secondary school, where every child has the support of a personal coach and engages in real life learning through community projects and enterprise? It doesn't necessarily have to be this free school! With an inclusive Christian ethos! Is there such a thing as an exclusive Christian ethos?
The free schools ultimately reduce the amount of funding from central government to the current education provision; the fund is not an infinite amount and must come from somewhere.
Providing premises for Free Schools has been more expensive than the Department originally assumed. At £6.6 million per School, the average unit cost of premises is more than double its original aggressive planning assumption.
It is worth noting that the distance Free School pupils travel to school is on average more than twice that of pupils in neighbouring maintained schools suggesting that this proposed school could not only reduce funding to local schools but could transport pupils in from surrounding schools so affecting their pupil numbers and not necessarily serve Burnley children at all.
Approximately 60 per cent of Free Schools opened in temporary accommodation, at a cost of at least £27 million. Schools opening in temporary accommodation or signing their funding agreement closer to their opening date were more likely to have unfilled places.
References National Audit Office if there are any inaccuracies.
Considering the number of unfilled pupil places in the existing high schools, 6th form and FE colleges in the area, I suggest that this proposal is a waste of taxpayer's money, an insult to the current education provision and an insult to the people of Burnley and surrounding areas.
Free Schools are established across the country where there is compelling evidence of a need and where independent schools have converted to state funded (free schools). Most primary Free Schools are in areas that need extra school places. The estimated total capital costs for Schools opened in districts with no forecast need for extra school places are at least £241 million. Parents surveyed outside the primary school gates by Chapel Street and LifeChurch reported that they would be interested in sending their child to Burnley High School, were they told that it was Free School? I suggest that most parents would want to send their children to a high school not necessarily this one. Some parents attended the "open evening" at least twice and I suggest the estimate of three hundred is overestimated. Which parents and carers wouldn't express a desire for a smaller secondary school, where every child has the support of a personal coach and engages in real life learning through community projects and enterprise? It doesn't necessarily have to be this free school! With an inclusive Christian ethos! Is there such a thing as an exclusive Christian ethos? The free schools ultimately reduce the amount of funding from central government to the current education provision; the fund is not an infinite amount and must come from somewhere. Providing premises for Free Schools has been more expensive than the Department originally assumed. At £6.6 million per School, the average unit cost of premises is more than double its original aggressive planning assumption. It is worth noting that the distance Free School pupils travel to school is on average more than twice that of pupils in neighbouring maintained schools suggesting that this proposed school could not only reduce funding to local schools but could transport pupils in from surrounding schools so affecting their pupil numbers and not necessarily serve Burnley children at all. Approximately 60 per cent of Free Schools opened in temporary accommodation, at a cost of at least £27 million. Schools opening in temporary accommodation or signing their funding agreement closer to their opening date were more likely to have unfilled places. References National Audit Office if there are any inaccuracies. Considering the number of unfilled pupil places in the existing high schools, 6th form and FE colleges in the area, I suggest that this proposal is a waste of taxpayer's money, an insult to the current education provision and an insult to the people of Burnley and surrounding areas. Richard Soles

1:06pm Sun 15 Dec 13

R Waring says...

The National Audit Office (2013) report “Establishing Free Schools,” clearly shows that free schools are one of Michael Gove’s pet projects and he intends to plough on with them regardless of their cost, whether they are where children need extra school places or whether they provide a good education.
Financial oversight has been minimal, and we fear there could be more cases like Al Madinah and Kings Science Academy, and more money wasted unless the government gets to grip with this.
As a responsible Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove should be ensuring all schools have the best possible teachers, and not allowing any to have unqualified people teaching children. He should also make sure all new schools are where they are needed, not allow ad hoc openings as now with no free schools planned for more than half the areas where there are severe shortages of places.
We hope Michael Gove pays heed to the report and learns lessons from some of the mistakes of his free school programme. But we fear he is not interested in learning from his mistakes so we will all find out the hard way that the faster free schools are opened, the less chance there is of considering if they are needed.
The National Audit Office (2013) report “Establishing Free Schools,” clearly shows that free schools are one of Michael Gove’s pet projects and he intends to plough on with them regardless of their cost, whether they are where children need extra school places or whether they provide a good education. Financial oversight has been minimal, and we fear there could be more cases like Al Madinah and Kings Science Academy, and more money wasted unless the government gets to grip with this. As a responsible Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove should be ensuring all schools have the best possible teachers, and not allowing any to have unqualified people teaching children. He should also make sure all new schools are where they are needed, not allow ad hoc openings as now with no free schools planned for more than half the areas where there are severe shortages of places. We hope Michael Gove pays heed to the report and learns lessons from some of the mistakes of his free school programme. But we fear he is not interested in learning from his mistakes so we will all find out the hard way that the faster free schools are opened, the less chance there is of considering if they are needed. R Waring

9:43am Mon 16 Dec 13

public eye says...

This free school would pull money from other schools locally, and as has been said the whole free schools/academies programme is about removing local democratic influence (that has worked well for decades) and starting the dangerous privatisation of state education in this country.

The other danger is that in an area where 'Christian' is often used by those like the EDL as shorthand for white and 'Muslim' for Asian then this would risk creating racial as well as religious separation at a time when we desperately need good community schools where kids from all faiths and none can sit side by side and learn together. It's called social cohesion, something the 'Life Church' clearly don't care about.
This free school would pull money from other schools locally, and as has been said the whole free schools/academies programme is about removing local democratic influence (that has worked well for decades) and starting the dangerous privatisation of state education in this country. The other danger is that in an area where 'Christian' is often used by those like the EDL as shorthand for white and 'Muslim' for Asian then this would risk creating racial as well as religious separation at a time when we desperately need good community schools where kids from all faiths and none can sit side by side and learn together. It's called social cohesion, something the 'Life Church' clearly don't care about. public eye

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

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