Bristol head threatens legal action against free school

A Bristol headteacher has threatened to take legal action over a proposed new "free school" which she claims is aimed at the affluent middle-class.

Plans have been approved in principle to open the new Bristol Free School at Westbury-on-Trym in September.

Clare Bradford, who runs nearby Henbury School, has written to the Department for Education, saying she will seek a judicial review if funding is approved.

The Bristol Free School Trust has denied it is targeting the wealthy.

The government claims free schools - set up by groups of parents, charities or faith bodies - will help to drive up standards.

'Backward step'

They will be funded directly by Westminster, but will be outside local authority control.

Bristol Free School is set to be the largest of its kind in England.

Ms Bradford said that its location and admissions policy would attract children from privileged backgrounds away from her school.

"The way this free school is being designed is going to lead to more social divisions, because it's being aimed clearly at middle-class families," she said.

"For schools such as [Henbury], which are truly comprehensive, that's going to be a backward step."

Blair King, chairman of the Bristol Free School Trust, said: "Our admissions policy and our catchment area includes areas of less socially affluent areas, such as Southmead and Sea Mills.

"We'll be encouraging pupils and parents from those schools to come to the open dates and see what the school is about and hopefully apply and create that essential mix of pupils that will benefit everyone."

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