Crawley MP in bid to save controversial free school

Crawley MP in bid to save controversial free school

Crawley MP in bid to save controversial free school

First published in News

A troubled free school facing closure could be handed a lifeline thanks to the intervention of an MP.

Henry Smith has called on the Department For Education to give the new management team at the Discovery New School in Crawley more time to turn the primary school around.

The department announced last month that the free school would close in April, claiming it had “weak leadership” and “unqualified teaching”.

The Crawley MP raised the future of the school with education secretary Michael Gove in Parliament on Monday and has secured a meeting between himself, the school’s chair of governors Chris Cook and schools minister Lord Nash on January 14.

The school had been one of the first to open in September 2011 under the Government’s controversial free schools programme but was the subject of a devastating Ofsted report in May last year when it was rated “inadequate” and put into special measures.

Mr Smith said he felt that the funding had been pulled “prematurely”, with a new management team having been in place for just a matter of weeks.

He said that even if the school was to close, the Government should be prepared to do more to provide moral and logistical support to help relocate the school’s 65 pupils.

The MP said that support could even extend to providing temporary classrooms for the displaced pupils.

He added: “We are hoping that the school can remain open.

“Allowing the new management team the rest of this term and the summer term to turn the school round, to me that would be a fair chance.

“If the school is still unsuccessful then September would be a more suitable time for the children to start at a new school.

“I have been disappointed by the way the Department For Education has handled this.”

The news comes as The Guardian announced this week that Mr Cook had launched a fierce attack on the Government, branding free schools policy “rushed and ill-considered” in a letter to Lord Nash.

In the letter, Mr Cook alleged that the Department For Education tipped off the media about its closure before the school found out, and gave the school “no detailed advice” on how it should go about closing itself down.

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