Pendle set for first free school?

St Paul's Primary School in Nelson
St Paul's Primary School in Nelson

Pendle could soon have its first free school after two local education leaders submitted a bid to Lancashire County Council.

“Investing in Success” would provide an alternative provision school initially for 60 children from the ages of five to 11.

Barrowford Library.

Barrowford Library.

The bid has been submitted by the team of Harry Devonport, Chairman of Governors at Colne Park High School and former Director of Education at Blackburn with Darwen Council, and County Coun. Paul White, who is the Chairman of Governors at Laneshaw Bridge Primary School.

The pair are investigating several sites across the borough including the former site of St Paul’s School in Hibson Road, Nelson, and the former Barnoldswick CE Primary School in York Street.

Two vacant library sites, Barrowford and Earby, are also being explored as potential locations.

Mr Devonport said: “We have been talking about this project for some time.

Coun. Paul White (s)

Coun. Paul White (s)

“There is a clear lack of provision for children who’ve been excluded or are at risk of exclusion from school in the Pendle area and beyond and there just aren’t the places from them at other alternative providers.

“We’ve heard stories of children only being provided with one hour a day tutoring. We’re seriously letting down these children, and they’re the most vulnerable with our education system.

“We just felt like someone had to do something to make the change and this is the perfect opportunity.”

The Department for Education has asked local education authorities to provide them with proposals for alternative and special free schools, and “Investigating in Success” has made it’s bid to be Pendle’s first free school under that process.

Harry Devonport (s)

Harry Devonport (s)

The county council is set to make a decision on which bid to put forward imminently.

County Coun. White said: “Harry and I have spoken to many headteachers and school leaders in the local area and there’s a common consensus that children are being let down.

“We’re hopeful that this presents a real opportunity for those children to further their education and academic ability and then ultimately because of the care they’ve had be able to re-enter mainstream education.

“I think this is a real opportunity here in Pendle to ensure that no child is left behind and that’s what has been the driver here for me.

Earby Library.

Earby Library.

“I think it’s vitally important that every child gets the very best opportunity in life and this will help to ensure that.”