CONTROVERSIAL plans have been announced for a new free school in Worksop which could divert 1,380 pupils and millions of pounds from state education in Notts.
Yorkshire Nationwide Schools (YNS) are currently exploring potential sites for an all-through school for youngsters aged four to 18 - scheduled to open in September 2013.
YNS claim the new school will offer pupils “grammar school standards without selection”, as well as smaller classes sizes and a “strong moral and disciplinary ethos”.
But the move has sparked outrage among teaching unions who say free schools will place a massive and uncessary burden on local authorities and force job losses in existing schools.
Notts County Council say it receives £94,000 funding per 20 pupils, which could mean the authority will lost out on £6.5m if the new school is fully subscribed.
Valley School headteacher Brian Rossiter said a free school would de-stabilise the achievements of state education in the community.
“The proposals are unsustainable and I struggle to understand the logic. There are still surplus school places already in the county, so I can’t understand how this system would work.”
“Even if 500 students were to move to the new school, it would have a devastating impact on the budget and jobs would be lost.”
Worksop secretary for teaching union NASUWT Ken Palmer said: “Free schools are the clearest example of the intention of the coalition Government to turn state education into a free market free-for-all and to provide opportunities for the private sector to make a profit from state-funded schools.”
But YNS chief executive John Morahan urged parents to consider the free schools option in view of “disturbingly low standards” being achieved by schools in many areas.
“Free schools must be set up and operated as not-for-profit organisations,” he said.
“There have been a number of ill-informed criticisms of free schools being used by businesses to ‘line their pockets’– this simply cannot happen.”
“And contrary to critics’ suspicions all teachers at our free schools will be fully-qualified.”
He added: “All free schools are funded directly from the Department of Education, and they must adhere to the admissions code in the same way as other publicly-funded schools.”
To find out more about YNS and proposals for the new free school, visit www.yns.org.uk or call 01709 583536.