Stour Valley Community School

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Stour Valley Community School
Established 2011
Type Free school
Head Teacher Christine Inchley
Location Cavendish Road
CO10 8PJ
Coordinates: 52°04′48″N 0°35′23″E / 52.0801°N 0.5897°E / 52.0801; 0.5897
DfE number 935/4001
DfE URN 136757 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–16

Stour Valley Community School is a coeducational free school for pupils aged 11 to 16 in Clare in the English county of Suffolk. The school opened in September 2011 as one of the first 24 free schools in England.[1][2][3] The school opened with around 170 pupils and a total staff of 29, including non-teaching support staff.[3] The headteacher is Christine Inchley.[4]

The school opened on the site of the former Clare Middle School which had around 300 pupils in four year groups.[5] A building programme estimated to cost around £4.8 million and take around a year to complete was carried out by Balfour Beatty.[3][6][7] The middle school closed in August 2011 as part of Suffolk County Council's reorganisation of schools into a two-tier system.[7]

At the beginning of the Autumn Term (starting September) 2016, the school had 573 pupils.


Local families formed a group called Campaign for Local And Rural Education (C.L.A.R.E) asking for the council to open a secondary school at the site, but the council refused.[1][8] The group then set up the Stour Valley Educational Trust, and applied directly to the national government to open a school, concerned that children would have to travel up to 10 miles (16 km) to one of two existing secondary schools with around 1,200 pupils.[9] The application was accepted, and the trust, operating as Stour Valley Educational Trust Ltd., opened the school on the old middle school site in September 2011.[2]


The trust, which opened the school with around 170 pupils, had initially expected over 200 pupils to attend the school in its first year and plan for more than 500 pupils by 2015.[2][9] The school has been criticised as unnecessary, for wasting taxpayers money and for its possible impact on surrounding high schools.[2][10] In 2011 the school spent £28,000 on marketing.[11] The trust has stated that teachers will "have to teach two subjects and bring something else (to the school) as well".[12] The school catchment area is predominately made up of households in the "wealthy achiever" category,[13] the most well off category, despite the free school programme being aimed at increasing social mobility.[14][15]


  1. ^ a b The free schools set to open in 2011, BBC News, 1 September 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d Clare: “Monumental day for whole community” – Suffolk’s first-ever free school starts new term, East Anglian Daily Press, 5 September 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Stour Valley Community School welcomes first pupils, Haverhill Echo, 8 September 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  4. ^ Stour Valley Community School profile, Department for Education. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  5. ^ Parr.C (2010) Row as five secondary free schools approved, SecEd, 9 September 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  6. ^ Balfour Beatty appointed preferred bidder for £4.8 million schools contract, Balfour Beatty construction services, 6 April 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  7. ^ a b Schofield.J (2011) Firm wins free school contract, Evening Star, 6 April 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  8. ^ Clare 'in shock' at schools decision, Suffolk Free Press, 4 March 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  9. ^ a b Richardson.H (2011) First green light for community's free school plan, BBC news, 14 January 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  10. ^ Clare free school welcomes first pupils, BBC news, 8 September 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  11. ^ Benson.S (2011) 'Freedom of information request', What do they, 15 December 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  12. ^ Vasagar.J (2011) More maths, longer days … Michael Gove's school vision takes shape, The Guardian, 3 January 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  13. ^ Vasagar.J (2011) What type of children go to free schools?, The Guardian, 31 August 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  14. ^ First 16 'free schools' details set out, BBC news, 10 September 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  15. ^ Free schools 'not wanted' say teachers, BBC News, 3 January 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.

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