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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Saved Barrow school Chetwynde may get rid of fees

A BARROW school will bid to convert to become Cumbria’s first free school.

Chetwynde School is to apply to be a government funded independent school – or free school – and if successful it would scrap its fees.

Chetwynde, which teaches primary, secondary and sixth form students, wants to change its status in September 2014 so it can offer its independent education free of charge and secure the long-term future of the school.

If approved, the school, which has students from across Furness, South Lakes and Millom, would receive funding from
central government directly based on the number of pupils. Chetwynde’s governing body and staff would retain independence and curriculum freedoms.

The plan would see the school population grow from around 200 pupils to around 500, which is the maximum capacity the school has now. In the 1990s, Chetwynde had a pupil roll of around 580.

School leaders have pledged the “family ethos” would remain as the same school team would be in place, with possibly around six more staff. Chetwynde would also stay non selective and class sizes would not exceed 24 in the primary school, and there would be two forms of around 26 in each year of the secondary school, with smaller teaching groups in the core subjects.

Chetwynde was saved from closure earlier this year thanks to a community campaign and a benefactor agreeing to buy the school for educational use.

The free school model has always been an option as part of the new long-term business plan.

Chetwynde headteacher, Russell Collier, said: “We know there is a demand for the high quality education we provide here, and we do know for a lot of parents out there the issue of having to pay for that has been the major hurdle.’’

Mr Collier said Chetwynde wants to build on its strengths of a broad academic curriculum, high standards and high levels of discipline.

He said: “We will maintain the ethos and standards, it will still be a small, family-orientated, friendly school.
“We truly believe in what we have to offer, it is special, and we have to open our doors.

“This is the chance to secure the future education for the present students and future generations of students.”

The free school application has to be submitted by January.

Chetwynde would be the first Cumbrian application.

If approved parents would apply for places through the local authority admissions. Applications for 2014 would be for each year group for four-year-olds to 18-year-olds.

Children who are already Chetwynde students, by October 2013 in the senior school, and February 2014 in the primary school, are guaranteed places in September 2014.

The school is now gathering evidence of demand for 2014 and the future.

Chetwynde School has an open weekend between 10am and noon tomorrow and Sunday for families to have an informal chat.

Parents can also chat to staff at the Four Groves Community Centre in Suffolk Street, Barrow, on November 15 between 4pm and 7pm.

Have your say

My child will be starting this school in January as will many others from my community. Parents i know that send their child to the school give so much praise to everyone involved. I am looking forward to meeting with other mums and helping to keep this much loved school alive! @ Phil what a very sad man you are!!

Posted by someone somewhere on 28 November 2012 at 20:07

So, a private business has an unsustainable business plan? The answer is, get the state to rescue it? Interesting precedent.

Posted by A Potter on 26 November 2012 at 08:50

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