Letter to Nottingham Post:
I’VE been pondering why parents would sign up for the proposed new free school at Trent Bridge.
The normal process of choosing a secondary school involves visiting prospective schools’ open evenings, seeing the facilities, talking to teachers and students and possibly visiting the school during the working day to get a feel for the ethos of the place.
Of course, you can also view recent Ofsted inspection reports and check the school’s examination performance over previous years. You can’t do any of that for the so-called Trent Bridge Free School: there are no buildings, no teachers and no pupils.
The backers of this new school can point to the record of the Torch group chief exec, the executive head of Toot Hill school, but he won’t be the head of TBFS. He says the staff will all be from one of the two existing schools in the group (I wonder if they know and have agreed to be redeployed) but you can’t go and meet and talk to them.
The website lays out the aims and values of the proposed new school but in terms that I should think any school might use.
A key factor in deciding whether or not to opt for TBFS next October will be the perceived viability of the school: what is the lowest number of pupils the Torch people believe they will need to make the school viable?
In reality, the backers of the school won’t know how many they’ve got until March 2014 and even then they can’t be sure. I guess that some parents will choose a tried-and-tested local school first and put TBFS second or even third and if they fail to get their first choice, they might well opt to appeal – and as academies, these schools are their own appeals panels.
All in all, for backers and parents alike, this proposed new school looks like a massive gamble.