Free schools

Just over 30 pupils to study at specialist autism school

BBC Radio Cumbria

A new school for Cumbrian children with autism is still on schedule to open in September, according to its headteacher.

Cumbria Academy for Autism is being built on the site of the former Westlands Hotel on Branthwaite Road in Workington.

The school will be one of a handful of free schools in the county, which aren't controlled by a local authority, can broadly set their own curriculum and receive funding directly from the government.

Richard Aindow, Cumbria Academy for Autism headteacher, told BBC Radio Cumbria's Mike Zeller at Breakfast that at first the school will cater for around 30 children who aren't able to remain in mainstream education.

He said: "I very much believe in inclusion, that children with autism can to go a mainstream school but there are children that doesn't work for.

"They struggle. So having a special needs school that specifically caters for their needs and works alongside them and their families, it will make a big difference."

The school eventually hopes to enrol more than 50 pupils.

'Lessons must be learned' over free school closure

Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah says she is "very disappointed" that the Discovery School in the city is closing and that "lessons must be learned".

The free school will be shut in August, four years after it was opened.

The Labour MP said despite the school's closure she believed young people would have the chance for Stem education with the opening of the North East Futures UTC later this year.

She said: "My view is that the Government-required rush for free schools and academy trusts has resulted in schools with limited governance and which are not fully rooted in the community.

"Oversight needs to provided at a more local level than Whitehall.

"I am writing to the Secretary of State to ask that lessons be learnt and try to ensure students do not lose out in future."

Chi Onwurah
LABOUR PARTY

School is 'not working for students, parents and staff'

A free school which will close at the end of this term was "simply not working for students, parents and staff", it says.

The Discovery School in Newcastle will close in August, four years after it was opened.

In a statement the school said the decision had been taken based on well-documented issues at the school including safeguarding problems, poor teaching and leadership and the results of a recent Ofsted which is expected to deem the school inadequate.

It means the school's funding has been stopped.

The school said: "We realise this will be upsetting for pupils and parents - and for staff who will be made redundant - however we cannot allow the situation to continue and believe that in the long term this will be for the best.

"It is very early days and in the next few weeks there will be a lot of activity to ensure that the process of closure, and finding new schools for pupils is as straightforward as possible."

Free school to close four years after opening

BBC Newcastle

A free school in Newcastle is to close in August just four years after opening.

It's after the government withdrew funding for the Discovery School.

It has the capacity for 700 students but currently has just 218 on the roll.

In July 2017 Ofsted inspectors said it was "failing to meet pupils' needs".

Discovery School
Google

Parents 'not involved' in new free schools

Parent groups have only been behind about one in five of the free schools that have been opened, say researchers.

The flagship policy, launched under the coalition government, was meant to bring innovation and more parental choice to schools in England.

But Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, which carried out the free school study, said "very few are fulfilling that original purpose".

The Department for Education said free schools were raising standards.

The next wave of about 35 free schools is going to be directed towards the lowest-performing areas of England, particularly the North East.

Students in classroom
Getty Images