Free school will undermine educational improvements

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I express my strong opposition to the creation of the proposed faith free school in Burnley, based on the fact it would completely undermine all the work carried out to promote community cohesion achieved under the Building Schools For The Future (BSF) programme.

This excellent initiative arose as a result of Lord Clarke’s Task Force, which was set up in the wake of the riots in Burnley, and determined our town’s and children’s futures would be best served by an overhaul of our secondary education system.

A significant sum was invested in creating new secondary schools, whose staff, governors, parents and pupils have done a magnificent job promoting tolerance, mutual respect and cohesion between different faiths and cultures. They have also made significant improvements in attainment, so there were sound educational reasons that led those who promoted BSF to look forward to the future with confidence.

However, that optimistic future is now being threatened by the proposed free school, which is a totally unnecessary addition to the secondary school sector in Burnley, which has sufficient spare capacity in respect of places to cater for the future needs of several generations.

The addition of further spaces will draw money away from our existing secondary schools, which is why all parents should be very concerned, because their children’s education will suffer if they attend one of the BSF schools. It will also undermine the progress made in respect of community cohesion, making it much harder to develop a peaceful and tolerant future.

The harsh Coalition Government is pushing an austerity agenda that supposedly has financial prudence at its heart, but the impact will be entirely negative. It will undermine the substantial investment in Burnley and make it harder for existing secondary schools to operate efficiently and effectively. I hope the campaign against the free school is successful for the sake of our town.

Chris Keene