Letter from Chorley headteachers to the Chorley Citizen
I am writing on behalf of all the secondary school headteachers in the Chorley area to express our views and concerns regarding the proposal for a ‘Free School’ currently being put forward in the town. I think that is it important that parents and the local community understand the views of the current schools on this proposal and the potential damage it could cause to the education of pupils in Chorley.
There are currently 6 secondary schools in the Chorley area all of which are rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted. Two of these schools are academies and two are in the process of converting. Three of the schools are faith schools. There is also exceptionally successful post-16 provision available in the area at Runshaw and the Preston colleges. This breadth of provision allows parents to choose the educational establishment that is right for their child, secure in the knowledge that they will receive a high quality education from an institution with a proven record of success. Due to the number of young people currently in the Chorley area there are places at several of the existing schools and so pupils always receive a place.
A free school is designed to meet the needs of the community in areas where there is a lack of quality of provision or choice. This is clearly not the case in Chorley. There also seems to be a lack of clarity with regards to the vision behind this proposal. Initially it was going to be a 14-19 vocational provider but this has now changed to be an 11-19 provider, one gets the distinct impression that the driving force behind this venture is to set up a school of some type rather than to address a non-existent gap in the current provision.
A new school is therefore unnecessary and unwanted and is not based on need or demand from the local community. Should this application be successful, resources and funding will need to be allocated to setting it up and running it. This means that already scarce resources will be diverted from the current schools into the new establishment. At a time of financial instability and reduced funding for education generally any further loss of income can only be damaging to the children of Chorley, whichever school they attend.
We believe that this is a hugely important issue and local parents, young people and other community members need to be made aware of the concerns of educational professionals and the implications for education in Chorley should this proposal be accepted.
J Hayes – Albany Science College
W White – Holy Cross Catholic High School
J Heaton – St Michael’s CE High School
A Davies – Bishop Rawstorne Church of England Academy
M Fowle – Southlands High School
C Hollister – Parklands High School