Nottingham Free School announces site

After months of silence (the website hadn’t been updated since the end of November), ‘Torch’ has finally revealed the site for the NFS, which will be the Courtaulds building on Haydn Road. The Group now has less than six months to turn part of this building into a proper school with not just well-equipped classrooms, complete with interactive white-boards and so on, but also specialist teaching rooms : Science laboratories, Technology workshops, kitchens (for teaching), a gym. And what about outdoor sports facilities?

We know that money will be no object, as Michael Gove will be keen to fund this start-up, the first in Nottingham, but time is short. What will parents who have signed up and been very patient, make of the location? How soon before they can actually have a look inside: will they be happy with the resources available to teach their children? What will the children themselves make of it?

Finally, given that other offices will continue within the same building, are there ‘safeguarding’ issues to think about?

We maintain our position that, wherever the NFS is located and however well it is resourced, this is an unnecessary development that is costing tax-payers money that would have been better spent on existing schools.

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12 thoughts on “Nottingham Free School announces site

  1. Sorry not to have cheered you up, Lee, but if you want entertaining, maybe try another blog. We don’t find much to be cheerful about in an unelected group (Torch) setting up a brand new school in a converted factory and spending loads of your and our money doing so. Presumably, you’re ok with this. We’d prefer the money to be spent on improving existing local schools rather than on this unnecessary gamble. By the way, next time, check your spelling before commenting.

  2. My spelling mistake is am irrelevant dig from yourself to try and belittle me. Moving on.
    If there are patents choosing to opt out of sending their children to the existing schools that you speak of then so be it, they’re freely making that decision, end of story.

  3. Of course the parents are making their decisions freely, though we maintain the right to point out to them what a gamble that is and, if you’re one of them, we’d love to know why you’d choose a school that doesn’t exist with no democratic oversight, over an existing school, warts and all. But do they have the right to to use taxpayers’ money to, for example, refurbish the Courtaulds building so it is fit for children to be taught in when there is no shortage of places and existing local schools could make good use of the money? Please engage with the issues and we’ll overlook typos and spelling errors!

  4. As the parent of a child who has been offered a place at the NFS I must say I am very happy with the progress and delighted with the choice of location/building.

    Secondary provision for children who live in this area is poor at the moment, with a requirement to travel comparatively long distances for anything other than the Djanogly Academy, a school with a long history of failure.

    So do I commit my loved one to commuting a fair distance to get a decent education, effectively throw her to the wolves at Danjogly or support the establishment of a new school in the area that’ll be run by proven performers with a good track record?

    As a socialist of course I’d have preferred an LEA controlled school to have been established but since ‘New Labour’ set us down this path and none of the major parties look likely to change it, its what we have to work with if we wish for our localities and our children to have the opportunity of a good education.

    Why shouldn’t families in Sherwood/Carrington have a good secondary school locally?

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Carrington Dad. Amazingly, you are the first person to offer the perspective of supporters of NFS – The Torch Group has certainly not wanted to ‘debate’ with us: far from it!

    From what you say, you seem to be sympathetic to the general drift of our arguments (by the way, we’re not Labour apologists but, although ‘New Labour’ started the academies, misguidedly in our view, it’s perhaps worth noting that ‘free schools’ have been entirely the work of Michael Gove). However, as sometimes happens, you feel you have had to set aside your political principles in order to do the best for your child. We are sure you have thought long and hard about this so we won’t rehearse all of the arguments against as, clearly, your mind is made up.

    However, I’m afraid we don’t have as much faith as you in the people behind ‘Torch’. Their track record really only consists in moving one school on to ‘outstanding’, no mean feat, granted, but nothing that hundreds of heads haven’t done, up and down the country. So far their support for Meden hasn’t resulted in that school reaching ‘Good’ and their support for Samworth Academy has been too recent to have made much difference. Frankly, they have no track record of establishing a school from scratch, with all that that entails. The impetus behind ‘Torch’ does seem to be towards the establishment of a successful business ‘brand’ where, it would appear, at least one person earns more than twice what any secondary head teacher might expect.

    We wish you and your child the best of luck in what, to us at least, seems like a massive gamble. We will certainly keep our sights trained on NFS over the coming months and will point out what we perceive to be any shortcomings, on this blog and elsewhere.

    • Thank you for taking time to respond ‘CT’.

      I’m glad you understand the position we as parents are in. As I said, I’m a socialist (and union member) but I can’t, with a clear conscience, allow my ideological leanings take precedence over the well-being of my daughter. No matter the strengh of my own political convictions these rightly come second to my duties as a father to my daughter.

      As I also touched upon, if LEA provision had been able cater to our needs I’d have happily sent my daughter to such a school but provision in the Sherwood area is sadly lacking. This is perhaps brutally laid bare by the fact that of the four schools we applied for, outside of the completely separate Free School application, the only one we were offered was nearly an hour and two bus rides away.

      So what is the answer to my, or more specifically my daughter’s, immediate needs? ‘Take a punt’ at a school being set up by an organisation who (unlike many academies etc who can and do choose otherwise) repeatedly state it will recruit only trained teachers, send her to the local school which has an almost 25 year history of repeated failure in both CTC and academy guises, or let her have the treat of a two hour round trip commute just to have a half decent education?

      Parents of Sherwood, New Basford and Carrington deserve better than having to pay to bus their children across or out of the city for a decent education, or just settling for the Danjogly Academy.

  6. Carrington Dad has a (very) local perspective and makes a good point in terms of the Carrington/Sherwood area. However, if we look at the city and it’s environs there is a different viewpoint. There is a surplus of places in the secondary sector and a huge shortage of places in the primary sector. Why is money (in these days of public spending cuts) being spent on a secondary free school and a 14-19 academy for a withdrawn curriculum (Dunkirk)? That’s money that will eventually come out of the local authority’s allocation from central government making it even harder to cope with the primary place shortfall (although of course they are not allowed to build new schools of course). The answer would seem to be that the government (who decide whether a free school/new academy can be set up) want to induce chaos in terms of planning the provision of education in the local authority. Schools opening where they are not needed and not opening where they are. Or am I just cynical?

    • IanH – If there is a surplus of places in secondary education in Nottingham then why has my daughter been denied a place at three other schools within “the city and it’s environs”?

      If there truly is a surplus of places could it be that they are in schools that few parents would wish to send their children to, perhaps due to poor reputation/performance? Should parents ‘martyr’ their children by sending them to such schools, in order to satisfy said parents ideological needs, or should parents seek what is best for their offspring?

      As an aside, one wonders what criteria parents among Nottingham NUT’s membership used to pick the schools for their children?

      • I know this is an old thread, but I thought I’d give my perspective as a current NFS student. Yes, I’m a kid, but I feel I should express my view.

        I agree with a lot of points made on this website, other free schools have consistently shown poor standards, Torch are ambitious, and have a reasonably untested record – But I still chose this school over Arnold Hill and Red Hill…

        Why? Location location. The school is a 9 minute walk away. That saves me hours of travel time, and the £2 round fair to Arnold hill. The school has just managed to set up, but the management and teaching is good, similar to my (outstanding) primary school.

      • Thanks for taking the time to write this comment – I wonder what prompted you! It does seem the school suits you in terms of location but there must have been more to it than that: how could you possibly know it would be any good? Glad to hear you find the management and teaching is good (but would OFSTED think so?) though it’s still very early days. Will the facilities and teaching cope as you get older and need greater specialism in both? There’s also the bigger picture – what about the cost at a time when we’re told the country hasn’t got any money? Your school, and lots of other ‘free’ schools, cost far more per pupil than other schools. Is that fair? I’m sorry to say, you and your friends are ‘pawns’ in a much bigger game. On the one hand, the people behind ‘Torch’ are indeed ambitious – to develop a lucrative ‘brand’ – and, on the other, the government wants to break up the state school system so it’s a ‘market’. When schools fail, pupils and parents suffer. Do you think that’s a good way to run schools?

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