Free school's event success

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By North Devon Journal | Thursday, March 14, 2013, 07:30

NEARLY 1,000 people attended an open day for North Devon's first free school on Saturday.

The event was designed to give prospective parents and pupils information about Route 39 Academy and has been hailed a success by the organisers.

The event was held at the Milky Way, a family attraction off the A39 near Bideford. The free school will be based at the Milky Way temporarily when it is due to open in September.

It was announced in February that the school's permanent site will be at Steart Farm in Bucks Cross once the buildings are built.

Sophie Poklewski Koziell, from the Route 39 Academy Trust Ltd, said the event proved people really believe the new school is going ahead.

Sophie said: "So many people seem to feel really positive about the school opening since we announced the site.

"I think some people were unconvinced until they knew where the school will be but now they feel as those they can out their trust in it.

"Our principal Joss Glossop was booked out all day with appointments with parents as well as doing her presentations so we are really pleased with how the event went."



  • Profile image for Biddyboys

    The numbers that I quoted were accurate as of yesterday when my comment was made - Route 39 have tweeted this evening that they now have 58 students enrolled, not 60 as you have stated. It remains to be seen whether this includes Year 8 students, many of whom may be siblings of the Year 7 intake.

    Route 39 UK Ltd has already received a 'grant' of £90,000 (the cost of three teachers for a year) from the Dept. of Education, which it has spent on local advertising, a website, legal fees and recruitment of a Head Teacher. So far it appears that not a single penny has been spent educating anyone's children! We await to see how much the Bucks Cross site for the school has cost us and how much cash will be actually spent building the school - all this is money that is being denied in the education of my children and their fellow students TODAY!

    With Joss Glossop being paid circa £70,000 as the Head Teacher, we taxpayers are paying her £1,166 per student per year (based on 60 students - let's use your numbers shall we!) - a Head Teacher with responsibility for 1000 students would get the same salary! Am I the only one who thinks the Government has gone a little crazy here? And no, our children are not worth less than others around the country, although this government seems to believe so as the per pupil funding formula for Devon is significantly lower than elsewhere in the UK, further impacting our school budgets!

    My local comprehensive school has just been informed that it's budget has been cut by £165,000 from next September, with more cuts coming next year. The school is not allowed to run with a deficit budget, therefore the only option available to balance the books is to lose staff. Up to 5 teachers and teaching assistants (and possibly more) will be losing their jobs by 31st August. Subsequently, class sizes will have to increase and Year 9 students will have the choice of fewer exam options, as there will not be enough teaching staff to provide the range of subjects previously offered.

    Meanwhile, 60 students will be sat in temporary classrooms rented from the Milky Way (no wonder the owners are so keen to let R39 hold their open days there!) being taught, if we believe R39's press statements, important subjects such as basket weaving from local craftsmen! Further, additional school buses will be laid on to transport these children to the Milky Way, from places such as Bideford, Bradworthy and beyond, adding to road traffic and contributing to environmental pollution - not exactly in keeping with the 'green' image that Route 39 are so anxious to portray.

    Operationally, the trustees are in the process of outsourcing via tender the provision of education services and ancillary services such as cleaning, catering, facilities management, grounds management and ICT, which no doubt will be picked up by the likes of Serco, Capita or Babcock's, so not really adding anything back into the local economy.

    And if you think the Route 39 Academy is the panacea to improving educational standards, I suggest you may like to think again - three new Academy's, each open less than 24 months have already received 'Notices to Improve' from Ofsted!

    Richard Bence, trustee of the school describes the Route 39 Free School as an 'extraordinary venture' - I think it is extraordinary (and incredibly selfish) that anyone can believe that taking educational funding away from 4139 local children to pay for the education of 60 is a sensible, reasonable and acceptable thing to do.

    I spend a huge amount of my personal time supporting my local comprehensive school, both as a governor and as a parent. I appreciate everything that our teachers and support staff do for my children and the children of others. I believe if people like yourself actually did the same, rather than blinding criticising our schools, you might see what our schools and teachers really do to positively improve our children's lives and future prospects.

    By Biddyboys at 21:24 on 15/03/13

  • Profile image for jimnem

    You're facts are out of date, I asked the same question, and they currently have 60 students signed up.

    Perhaps you should ask the question why 60 parents would rather send their children to a school that is not tried and tested rather than the existing secondary schools, and why so many families who are already experiencing those schools are so keen to move their children out at the first opportunity they are given.

    Suggesting people privately educate their children is such ****! As Torridge has the lowest average salary in the country, how exactly do you think people around here are going to afford to privately educate their children? And why should anyone have to! Are the children in this area worth so much less than others around the country that they don't deserve to have a choice or access to a school that has something better to offer than a "Satisfactory" education?

    I want some hope for my children's life at school and their future. Clearly something people like you care absolutely nothing about.

    By jimnem at 17:17 on 15/03/13

  • Profile image for Biddyboys

    With respect, the fact that the free school chooses to hold its 'Open Day' event at a well known tourist attraction visited by 1000 people is by no means a measure of either the schools attractiveness, success or of what any of the visitors actually thought of the free school. The visitors were there for entertainment, not to be lobbied and then used as propaganda for this organisations own objectives. Route 39 could have held the event in a Bus Station and made the same completely unfounded statements!

    Facts speak louder than any of the 'soundbite' or social media claims made by Route 39 Academy Trust Ltd - of the thousands of parents they say are interested in sending their offspring to the new free school, only 31 children in Year 7 have actually signed up to attend the school. They are now desperately scratching around for other older children to make up the numbers. How do they intend to teach mixed age groups appropriately in these circumstances? Hardly a quality education I would suggest!

    Granted, these 31 children will be among the most well resourced in the country, with £2 million being allocated by Michael Gove for this folly. However, local people should be aware that the funds with which to build and run this white elephant have been robbed through 2013/14 budget cuts from local comprehensive schools in Bideford, Bude, Torrington, Okehampton and Holsworthy. Route 39 doesn't always tell us the full story apparently.

    It is shameful, in a time of severe austerity, that these resources should be taken away from our children locally, to build a so called 'free' school that is neither wanted by local people or needed by the community at large. Does anyone else wonder how long the school will remain 'free' when this 'start up' funding stops? Will the 'free' become 'fee' we wonder? Teachers are now being made redundant in Bude and Holsworthy Schools as a result of this selfish, greedy and truly anti-social enterprise!

    As a community we should be supporting our local schools and their teachers and management, as they seek, under ever increasing pressure, to deliver a top quality education for our children. We should not be allowing this kind of blatant, elitist experimentation to cripple our children's futures.

    If, as a parent you wish to have your child educated privately, then by all means do so, there are plenty of independent private schools out there willing to take your cash - but please pay for it yourself, do not expect us to pay for your child's education by taking funding from our child's school!

    By Biddyboys at 19:07 on 14/03/13

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