Free school will take money from existing schools

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I support the letters from T. Fletcher and Bea Foster/Fr Michael Waters regarding the new Burnley High School (free school).

The school is a new state-funded secondary school, which a recent press advert and article says is due to open in September 2014.

The D for E has written to me saying: “The Burnley High School free school proposal was approved to enter into the pre-opening phase in May. It is made clear to the relevant free school proposers at this point that they are entering into the pre-opening stage of the process but that this is not final approval.”

The proposal for a school with a Christian ethos is to be commended. Do readers think other colleges in the town do not provide, or seek to provide, a comparable environment?

I am all for parents having increased choice, but we have new colleges in town with state-of-the-art facilities costing millions of pounds. One of them will probably have to close if this proposal goes ahead as there will not be enough pupils to make its future viable.

This seems to me to be:

a) A waste of money (your money, from taxes we all pay); Most of our new schools were financed under PFI so, regardless of the result, we will still have to pay.

b) Likely to disrupt the education of all pupils in the colleges as numbers of pupils fall because of the wishes of a minority group of parents.

c) Divisive by undermining 12 years of time, work and money used to bring communities together and working together for the good of all.

Since the 2001 disturbances, various voluntary, community and faith groups have worked in partnership, along with the statutory bodies, and local and county government. They have worked with success in partnership for the good of the whole community.

The new school looks likely to be housed in an empty school considered unfit for purpose five years ago. The quality of teaching rather than the state of building is more important, but to give pupils the resources to maximise their potential will require large sums of money.

The pot of money for schools is finite so any investment in a Free School will take money away from the existing schools.

Colin Wills

Minehead Avenue, Burnley