Monday 16 November 2015

The Gladstone story highlights risks attached to Brent's free school policy

The Brent Cabinet probably approved an officer report on school places provision this afternon at their Crest Academy meeting.  The report advocates providing the additional secondary places needed via free schools.

It may be worth looking at the example of the Gladstone Free School  in assessing the risks attached to this policy. The proposal goes back to  2014  when the DfE approved the application. There was a chaotic 'consultation' meeting inJanuary 2014 when it appeared the school wanted to build on playing fields agjacent to Gladstone Park. LINK

There have been huge problems in finding a site. In April 2014 the school advised parents of pupils who had been enrolled for a place in September 2014 that they should seek another school. It again failed to open this September.

The school has this week written to parents to say that after talks in 'high places' they have the support of Nick Gibb MP, Minister for Schools. They claim that he made it clear to ' DfE officials that he wanted this project to work'.

They claims that officers  from Brent Council are working directly with the Education Funding Agency and two estate agents to find the school a site. They say, as they have said before, that they understand there are several sites that 'may prove possible options'.

Gladstone state that once the EFA find a permanent site the school will be found a temporary site for the 'year or two' that it will take refurbishment, remodelling or rebuilding to be completed.

Desite this uncertainty the putative school announces that it is still open for applications: 'Gladstone School - Your Extra Choice!'

They assure parents that as Gladstone is its own admissions authority they can still make 6 choices through the Lacal Authority applications system in  addition to Gladstone. They have extended their first round admissions to February 2016 and ask parents to let others who are concerned about school places know about Gladstone.

In March this year Gladstone announced the day after children had been allocated their places that they would not be opening in September LINK

I asked at the time whether the DfE support for the school should be withdrawn to avoid the confusion and disappointment caused by enrollment but failure to open in 2014 and 2015. It ap;pears there is still a risk for September 2016 despite the active recruiting.

Another proposed  free school,  Gateway,  did not proceed after difficulties in finding a site LINK and it would be interesting to hear how Brent Council expects to get over this problem

Apart from the site uncertainties there continues to be concern  over Gladstone financial issues and the amount of money spent on the school without one child being educated. There are also suggestions of potential conflicts of interest. LINK

There are 6 current directors and 8 previous directos.
To read about other issues of concern over free schools follow this LINK



123 said...

One Degree Academy also ceased their site search in Brent and are now set to open in Enfield.

Interesting that on the front page of Gladstone School's website, they state "We have a temporary site suitable for at least three years, ready for development into a great building" while the letter to parents states they will need to find a temporary site for a year or two once they find a permanent site.

The list of advisers on Gladstone's website reads like a family tree. Daughter-in-law of the founding parent, daughter-in-law's mother and founding parent's longtime business partner are among them.

Headline Communication seems to be making a profit for the first time, it's the education consulting company run by the chair of governor's and said founding parent.

Anonymous said...

Looks to me like they're in it for the money. How surprising!

Nan Tewari said...

Why the concern?

Even before getting off the ground, this school is leading by example in how it will be preparing children for the real world.

I have no doubt this enterprising outfit will be efficiently churning out bankers talented in the ways of crashing world economies, politicians versed in the art of double-speak, business leaders for whom charity and nepotism are synonyms, etc.

Start as you intend to go on, I say!!

Anonymous said...

no chance its all a fantasy, the old gladstone school site is only possibility

ABC said...

Does anyone know if Gladstone is opening in September? Website says so but I'm beginning to think they are enjoying the gravy train of pre-opening funds and no school. Pretty sweet job for the "head teacher".