Town councillors refuses to back new school suggesting free schools ‘can’t be properly governed’

The Cornish Guardian is reporting that St Austell Town Council has refused to give its backing to a plan by a local academy trust to bring a new primary school to the town.

Penrice Academy principal David Parker approached the council this week asking it to support a bid by the Peninsula Learning Trust to open a school in the area.

The trust currently includes Carclaze Community Primary School, Penrice Academy, Mevagissey Primary School and St Mewan Community Primary School, and Lostwithiel School will join it from September…

Town clerk David Pooley said: “Even with planned expansions to other schools there’s still going to be a need for more primary school places in the area. No location or site has been identified yet, but Mr Parker said it would be helpful to have a letter from the town council giving its support in principle.”

Councillor Gary King said he accepted that the town desperately needed a new primary school, but was unable to support Mr Parker’s request.

“I have no hesitation in supporting another school in St Austell, but I can’t support a free school,” he said. “I think it’s fundamentally wrong, and has no democratic purpose behind it; we need to make sure our schools are governed properly – and free schools can’t be…”

More at: St Austell Town Council refuses to back new free school for the town

 

Quite an interesting reaction from the local councillors here. Reading the full article, they seem to accept the need for extra school places but are unhappy either with the idea of a free school or of being seen to take sides by backing a specific venture.

Do you applaud their behaviour or, seeing as they can no longer open new schools themselves, do we need local authorities to be much more pro-active, working alongside potential academy/free school developers to get the right new schools in the right areas?

For example, Councillor King (quoted above) clearly dislikes free schools, but what kind of school is going to be acceptable to him under the current legislation? 

 

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Comments

  1. If areas need new school places, all LAs can do is direct their maintained schools to expand.  However, where a new school is needed they have no alternative but to tout around for an academy trust or free school group willing to run the school.  The LA may even have to provide land or partial funding but will have no legal right to support the school.

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