Bristol Free School

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Bristol Free School
Bristolfreeschoollogo2.PNG
Established 2011
Type Secondary Free School
Headteacher Richard Clutterbuck
Location Burghill Road
Bristol
BS10 6NQ
England Coordinates: 51°30′03″N 2°36′48″W / 51.5008°N 2.6134°W / 51.5008; -2.6134
DfE URN 136822 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Capacity 750 (by Sep 2015)
Students 215 (Jan 2013)[1]
Gender Mixed
Ages 11–16
Website bristolfreeschool.org.uk

Bristol Free School (BFS) is a secondary free school that opened in Southmead,[2] Bristol, England in September 2011. It was one of the first wave of 24 new free schools to open in England that year.[3]

As of February 2013, BFS has 216 year 7 and year 8 pupils.[4] Once fully open it will cater for 750 pupils aged 11 to 16.

It is located at former Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Environment Agency offices, which were converted for use by the school.

The school is governed by the Bristol Free School Trust,[5] which is a partnership between the Russell Education Trust and a local campaign group called Parents Voice.[6][7] The BFS Trust appoints governors to the school's local governing body, including the head teacher, a staff governor and two elected parent governors.[8]

Bristol Free School is secular and non-selective. The curriculum is broad with an emphasis on music and science.[9]

History[edit]

Bristol Free School was proposed following a 20-year history of parental campaigning in response to a perceived lack of suitable secondary school places in North Bristol.[10][11][12][13] The campaign group, Parents Voice,[6] wanted to open a secondary school either at an Adult Education Centre at Stoke Lodge,[14] or on the former St Ursula's School site, to serve the Westbury-on-Trym, Stoke Bishop, Sneyd Park and Henleaze districts of north west Bristol which had no nearby state secondary school.[15] However residents near Stoke Lodge wanted no development,[16] and Bristol City Council wanted to use St Ursula's for a primary school.[17]

Initial approval for the school's plan and business case was given by the Department for Education in November 2010.[18] Final approval was given in May 2011.[19]

In January 2011, 417 members of the community signed a petition to ask Bristol City Council to allow a secondary school on the St Ursula's site.[20] Following this and other representations, Bristol City Council Cabinet gave an "agreement in principle" to allowing Bristol Free School to move to St Ursula's in 2012, in a split-site arrangement with a new Primary Academy.[21]

In July 2011, the school was granted planning permission to use a former Environment Agency and DEFRA site on Burghill Road,[22][23] in the neighbouring area of Brentry within the Southmead electoral ward.[24][25] This was expected to be a temporary site as the school anticipated moving to the St Ursula's site in September 2012.

The original plan was to open BFS with 150 Year 7 pupils, accommodating up to 750 pupils once it is fully open.[19] When the school opened in September 2011 it had 80 pupils, and the reduction in projected numbers was blamed on the uncertainty over site arrangements.[26][27]

In July 2012 it was confirmed that Bristol Free School would remain at the further developed Brentry site.[28][29] DEFRA held a 39 year lease on the site, which is owned by Bristol City Council.[30] An £8 million contract was let by the Department for Education to refurbish existing buildings and build new buildings to support the expansion of the school from 2013.[31] Total capital spending by the department to set up the school was £9.6 million, the largest amount amongst the first batch of fifteen free schools, plus £0.75 million of extra initial revenue funding.[32][33] On the 25th of June, Bristol Free School opened its new building to students.

At the end of its first year the school was featured in an ITV News report about Free Schools.[34]

Bristol Free School was first inspected by Ofsted in February 2013.[4]

Opposition[edit]

The Headmistress of nearby Henbury School, and Chair of the Bristol's Secondary Head Teachers' Association, Clare Bradford, said that if funding for BFS was approved by the DfE then she would seek a judicial review. She put this in a letter to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education. She said that BFS was being established only for middle-class parents, that it would damage existing schools, and that it wasn't needed because there were already surplus places.[35][36][37][38] However the Bristol Free School Trust said that it would reserve places for families in less affluent areas.[39]

Bristol City Council Leader, Barbara Janke, and another Lib Dem cabinet member, expressed disappointment that BFS would not be offering places to Oasis School Westbury Senior Phase pupils after they originally said that they would.[40][41][42]

The President of the National Union of Teachers, Nina Franklin, who was a critic of Free School policy in general,[43] was quoted in media reports as criticizing the decision to fund BFS specifically, saying that other local schools would suffer as a result.[44]

When it was confirmed that BFS would be remaining at the Brentry site permanently, the school adjusted its admissions criteria, which was originally designed to cater for families living close to the St. Ursula's site.[45] It extended its main catchment area to include the school site in Burghill Road.[46] A local media report raised concerns that children living in Henbury and Southmead might not be able to access the school.[47]

In 2012, the Royal Society of Arts published a study which showed that the school, in common with many Free Schools, had been set up in an area with no shortage of school places, with 300 surplus secondary places within a few miles.[48] The Department for Education later released the impact assessment for the school, showing the context in which that decision was made.[49]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "School level underlying data and local authority level alternative provision underlying data: SFR21/2013". School Census Jan 2013. www.gov.uk. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Southmead Polling Districts". Bristol Council Ward Finder. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Harrison, Angela (28 August 2011). "Free schools: 24 set to open in September". BBC News. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "School inspection report". Ofsted. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  5. ^ company check ltd. "Free company financial check on BRISTOL FREE SCHOOL TRUST. Registered number 07474359. Free company accounts. Companies House information". Company Check. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "About Us". Bristol Free School. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  7. ^ company check ltd. "Free company financial check on BRISTOL FREE SCHOOL TRUST. Registered number 07474359. Free company accounts. Companies House information". Company Check. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "Governance". Bristol Free School. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  9. ^ Bristol Free School Trust Funding Agreement. Department for Education. 31 August 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  10. ^ School, Primary (8 November 2010). "PLANS for parents to take charge of a school in north Bristol have moved a step closer after being given initial approval by the Education Secretary.". This is Bristol. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "UK | England | Bristol/Somerset | Public consulted on Bristol schools". BBC News. 19 May 2003. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Parents battle for new school - Article". TES. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  13. ^ http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-14217163.html
  14. ^ https://www.bristol.gov.uk/committee/2010/sc/sc006/0322_5.pdf
  15. ^ By WestburyOnTrym-People. "'Parent power' for new Bristol school". Westbury On Trym People. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  16. ^ https://www.bristol.gov.uk/committee/2011/ta/ta000/0118_4a.pdf
  17. ^ "Bristol Free School 'frustrated' with city council". BBC News. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011. 
  18. ^ "Bristol parents' free school plan clears first hurdle after being given approval". Bristol Evening Post. 8 November 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2011. 
  19. ^ a b "Final approval for Bristol Free School". BBC News. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011. 
  20. ^ "A secondary school on the St Ursulas site". Bristol City Council. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  21. ^ https://www.bristol.gov.uk/committee/2011/ua/ua000/0421_5.pdf
  22. ^ "Bristol Free School plans are given council approval". BBC News. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  23. ^ "Application No. 11/01898/F : Vacated DEFRA Site Burghill Road Bristol BS10 6EZ". Bristol City Council. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  24. ^ Becky Feather (27 August 2011). "New state secondary school serving Westbury-on-Trym, Henleaze and Stoke Bishop to open next month". Westbury On Trym People (Northcliffe Media). Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  25. ^ "Southmead Polling Districts (map)". Bristol City Council. 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  26. ^ "Don't dismiss free school's current site". Bristol Evening Post. 17 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  27. ^ max 4000 characters (6 September 2011). "Free School Is A Dream Come True". This is Bristol. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  28. ^ "Bristol Free School to remain at Brentry site". BBC News. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  29. ^ "Free school wins backing for permanent site". Bristol Evening Post. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  30. ^ Nick Johnstone, Patrick Gower (29 July 2011). "Free school collides with property vehicle". Building News. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  31. ^ Allister Hayman (2 May 2012). "Bam picks up Bristol free school - Contractor wins £8m job for free school in Brentry". Building News. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  32. ^ "DfE figures reveal England's most expensive free schools". EducationInvestor. 1 July 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  33. ^ Mark Wilding (25 April 2013). "Free schools teach a hard lesson". Building Design. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  34. ^ "The Free School Revolution". ITV News. 17 July 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  35. ^ "Bristol headteacher threatens legal action on ‘free school’". Bristol24-7. 14 June 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  36. ^ max 4000 characters (7 September 2011). "Mind your own school, angry Gove tells head". This is Bristol. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  37. ^ "Bristol head threatens legal action against free school". BBC News. 13 June 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  38. ^ Young, Toby (15 June 2011). "Left unleashes furious assault on free schools in attempt to force another U-turn – Telegraph Blogs". Blogs.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  39. ^ "BRISTOL'S first free school plans to admit up to 30 children a year from Southmead and Sea Mills, as well as taking youngsters from Westbury-on-Trym, Stoke Bishop, Sneyd Park and Henleaze.". This is Somerset. 10 February 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  40. ^ by ThomOliver (24 May 2011). "Lib Dems Disappointed Over Free School’s Places Decision | Bristol Liberal Democrats". Bristol-libdems.org.uk. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  41. ^ "BBC News - No places for 35 children at Bristol Free School". Bbc.co.uk. 24 May 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  42. ^ max 4000 characters (24 May 2011). "Free school setback for Oasis pupils". This is Bristol. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  43. ^ "Leader's attack on free schools". The Bristol Post. September 15, 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  44. ^ "'Victory for parents' as first free school in Bristol is approved". Bristol Evening Post. 17 May 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  45. ^ "Consultation". Bristol Free School. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  46. ^ "Admission Criteria 2011/2012". Bristol Free School. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  47. ^ "Free school wants most students to come from one postcode area". Bristol Evening Post. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  48. ^ Richard Garner (4 July 2012). "Gove's free school project is an 'unguided missile', says report". The Independent. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  49. ^ "Bristol Free School: Section 9 Academies Act 2010 impact assessment". www.gov.uk. Department for Education. Retrieved 15 February 2014. 

External links[edit]