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Failed Discovery New School in Crawley cost taxpayer £3m
7:30am Friday 4th April 2014 in News
A failed free school closing today has cost taxpayers more than £3 million.
Discovery New School in Crawley, which is for children aged four to 10, opened in September 2011 but has been plagued by funding issues and poor Ofsted reports.
And the annual accounts have revealed that more than £3 million of public money has been spent.
Chris Oxlade, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Crawley, described the school as an “education experiment” which had gone “horribly wrong”.
He said: “Dozens of children and their families have been put through a nightmare over the last few months trying to find places in the state education system, which is stretched to breaking point."Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money was invested in the school, which is being forced to shut its doors, leaving Crawley with a huge bill.
“In addition, West Sussex County Council is being left to pick up the pieces to the tune of close to £300,000, which it won’t see back from the Department of Education for months, if not years.”
Figures from the annual accounts show £854,633 of public cash was spent acquiring the Broadfield House site.
An additional £1,619,828 was spent on refurbishment and development costs – bringing the total to £2,484,461 before the school had even opened.
Each academic year the school was open, a further £359,304 of public money was handed over.
Mr Oxlade added: "This money could have brought much needed investment in Crawley's schools, allowing the number of places to increase and giving much needed support for special educational needs.”
From the outset it courted controversy for its use of Montessori teaching methods, which promote independence, freedom and a respect of a child’s natural psychological, physical and social development.
The school also drew criticism from teaching unions for hiring non-qualified teachers.
Last June a damning Ofsted report warned students at the school were in danger of leaving without being able to read and write properly.
Inspectors deemed it inadequate in three out of four categories, leading to it being placed in special measures.
The report also pointed to the bad behaviour of pupils and the headteacher’s lack of “skills and knowledge”.
Lord Nash, from the Department for Education, made the decision to pull the schools funding in December 2014.
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