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Displaying items by tag: Free Schools

UPDATE (22nd October): It is becoming very apparent from Telephone Consultations and other enquiries, that Trinity School, the Sevenoaks Christian Free School, is likely to be considerably oversubscribed for 2014 entrance. Also, its distance measurement to determine priority for the 60 places awarded on nearest distance is taken from the centre of the Knole East proposed school site to the child's home. 

Kent County Council has agreed with the Trinity Free School and the Secretary of State for Education that the Free School should share the old Wildernesse School with the proposed new satellite grammar school from September 2015. This would be conditional on the Secretary of State actually giving approval for the satellite, although this is starting to look a given. At a public meeting last week, outline plans for the two schools were revealed.


            The site of the old Wildernesse School

With all three parties supporting the proposal, this would avoid the potential costly legal battle that threatened if the two schools were in competition for the same site, as initially seemed likely. Whilst the Trinity School has consistently supported the idea of site sharing, KCC was initially opposed but now clearly recognises this is the sensible way forward.

I have written a number of previous articles which analyse issues such as the potential source of students and describe the story as it has unfolded. If you put Sevenoaks in my search engine, or pick up the tags at the bottom of this page you should find all of them. 

One potential obstacle still exists to the plan, assuming the Secretary of State approves it. For the interpretation of the law that allows the setting up of a mixed satellite by a single sex grammar school remains open to legal challenge, and there are still interested parties who would be happy to see it fail, although their threat appears to be diminishing......

Published in News Archive
Saturday, 25 May 2013 08:08

What a difference three days makes

Took three days holiday this week in gap caused by half-term between preparing clients for appeals. Naturally there was a sudden outbreak of news including the following, some of which I will cover over the next couple of days:

1) Judd School announces it is considering setting up its own 11 plus tests for 2015 entry.

2) Judd school confirms no successful appeals this year.

3) Two new proposed Free Schools announced for opening in 2014 if approved. Jubilee Primary, in Maidstone, will be run by  Jubilee Church. Also the INSPIRE Special Free School will initially have 40 places and be based next to Silverbank Park in Churchill Avenue. Medway Council has worked in partnership with three schools in submitting the bid to the Department for Education: Willimaosn School Trust; Bradfields Special School; and Greenacre School. I don;t have any further details yet.

4) Kent County Council has begun its consultation on the proposed Sevenoaks Grammar School satellite

5) The usual assassins keep putting the boot into the Trinity Christian Free  School on the 11 plus website (not sure what it has to do with the 11 plus!) proposed for the same site

6) An OFSTED for Dame Janet Primary Academy in Ramsgate. formed out of Dame Janet Junior and Dame Janet Infants (failed OFSTED) receives shocking OFSTED  showing that  becoming an Academy is not the solution for everyone.

7) KCC to debate unacceptable delays in preparing Statements of Special Education Need. It is claimed that these are down to failures by the medical services to provide timely appropriate evdence. 

Published in Peter's Blog
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 23:13

Wye Free School Debacle

A new Free School in Wye, catering for secondary school pupils, was approved in principle by the Department for Education back in July. The Department of Education and United Learning, the Academy Group which has taken over the development of the Free School, have now destroyed the rationale for its existence. The proposal for a Free School was based on a vision that saw a College in the centre of the village, founded in 1447 for training the priesthood and which had served as an educational institution almost continuously since that date until 2009, be resurrected to serve the children of Wye.

By all reports, Imperial College who owned the premises, was sympathetic to the project which was to be run by United Learning, a charity already running 20 academies and 11 private schools, including Ashford School.  One can catch a flavour of United Learning in an analysis by the admittedly critical Anti-Academies Alliance, here. I see no flavour of any appreciation of heritage here, and can do no better than quote excerpts from the excellent response by Wye and Hinxhill Parish Council to United Learning's consultation document.......

Published in News Archive
Tagged under

Kent's three new secondary Free Schools, Hadlow Rural Community School, Sevenoaks Christian School and Wye Free School are all accepting applications for September 2013, and places will be offered independently from the KCC process for admission in 2013. This means that parents may apply to the Free Schools as well as completing the Kent Secondary admission form which allows up to four maintained schools to be named, with confidence that neither application will be harmed by the other. Schools will not be told if children have received a second offer elsewhere, so that such children will receive two offers on March 1st if they qualify for a place at one of the free schools.

I anticipate that this additional opportunity will encourage many double applications, so that the new schools may be swamped, and some of those offered places may well not be serious candidates. The down side of this is that of course 240 Kent children will be holding two offers in March 2013, when offers are made; and schools will have no idea which way those 240 children will go.........

Published in News Archive
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 00:00

Free Schools

last updated August 2021

The inspiration for Free Schools, government-funded, privately owned, free of most of the constraints government sees fit to place on maintained schools, was Sweden where these have operated for many years. In May 2010, Swedish education minister Bertil Ostberg is reported to have said in a widely quoted interview: "We have actually seen a fall in the quality of Swedish schools since the free schools were introduced." "The free schools are generally attended by children of better educated and wealthy families, making things even more difficult for children attending ordinary schools in poor areas." He added: "Most of our free schools have ended up being run by companies for profit".  One can similarly expect that some high profile Free Schools in this country will be successful where there is excellent leadership, but such leadership can operate in all types of school and is not unique to Free Schools, except where they can offer higher salaries to attract the best headteachers out of mainstream schools. Others have proved very profitable for their proprietors.  

The Free School Act of 2010 authorised the setting up of Free Schools, making it possible for parents, teachers, charities and businesses to set up their own schools. In 2015, the decision to classify all new schools as Free Schools changed the landscape. Below you will find a chronological list of all open Kent and Medway Free Schools beginning with The Tiger Free School in 2012, through to six in 2020.   On the following page, there is a list of all K & M Free Schools that have been approved but are yet to open

New Free Schools opened between 2012 and 2020
The script below is based in the main on the contemporary version of this article at the time of opening. For an up to date report on events and performance go to the Individual Schools Section for secondary schools, along with my Secondary Schools allocations page for 2021. For primaries, the corresponding Schools allocations page. 
Free Schools opened in September 2012. 
The Tiger Primary School  in Maidstone was the first to open in September 2012. It is on the site of the New Line Learning Academy operated by the Future Schools Trust, that runs both New Line Learning Academy and the Cornwallis Academy also in Maidstone. It admitted 60 children in both Years R and Year 1 that year. Key distinctive features include (in order): a focus on Mandarin alongside English; training to improve numeracy; encouraging all children to play a musical instrument; being open from 7.30 to 6 p.m. of particular benefit to working parents; and a healthy breakfast, lunch and tea on offer to all pupils. Now in its third year of operation it is proving popular with parents, 14 first choices turned away for September 2015 entry. 2021 note: The popularity of the Tiger School is now falling and it had vacancies fro the first time this year.  
Free Schools opened in September 2013.
Hadlow Rural Community School To my mind this is the most interesting of the five, based on and at Hadlow College which primarily offers 'land-based' courses for students aged from 16 through to those taking degrees and beyond. The school website notes: "With the same ambition and drive for excellence for every young person, Hadlow College wishes to set up a Free School to provide opportunities for young people to access education through rural provision. This will provide an alternative curriculum for those young people for whom land based is a first choice route and for those that have found it difficult to access a traditional education.The Rural Community School will offer the opportunity for young people to learn through a practical curriculum which would support the development of the English Baccalaureate curriculum through an innovative delivery model". It is designed to cater for local children from Year 7 onwards. My main caveat is whether this is too soon to be pointed towards such a specific course of study, but it does promise a distinctive ethos and curriculum for local children who currently travel to Paddock Wood or Tonbridge for their secondary education. The school is now planning its new buildings and appears to have few problems in achieving its aims. Popular for 2014 entry, and expanded its number of Year 7 places from 30 to 60 to accommodate all who wanted a place. In August 2014, the school received a Financial Warning from the Department for Education "to serve as a written notice to improve financial management, control and governance at the Trust as a result of our concerns relating to the Trust’s delivery of its capital new build project, non-submission of required financial returns and failure to provide an adequate response to our June Financial Management and Governance Evaluation visit recommendations". As a result, "all of the delegated authorities  will be revoked, and all transactions by the Trust of this nature (regardless of size) must come to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) for approval". However, by February 2015, the position had improved to the extent that the Financial Notice to improve was lifted. In June 2015, the school was found to be Good by OFSTED, who described it as (excerpt)"Hadlow Rural Community School is an academy free school which opened to students in September 2013. It was set up by Hadlow College and is located within the college grounds. There is a strong association with the college, which provides many support services. The school is much smaller than average. Currently, it has students in Years 7, 8, 10 and 11. The 60 places available in Years 7 and 8 are not quite filled and there are 58 students due to join Year 7 in September 2015. The 15 places available in Years 10 and 11 are filled.The school is housed in temporary accommodation. The construction of a new school building, which is scheduled to open in 2016, has started. The proportion of students from minority ethnic groups or who speak English  as an additional language is well below average.  The proportion of students known to be eligible for the pupil premium, is lower than the national figure. The proportion of disabled students and those with special educational needs is well above average. All students follow a land-based curriculum at Hadlow College one day a week". 

Trinity Schoolin Sevenoaks.  This was the most politically contentious of the proposals, opposed by Kent County Council and suffered a campaign of denigration from other parties designed to destroy it before opening. The school is a four form entry secondary school, opened with the aim of admitting 50% of its children with a Christian background. In the end it admitted 92 children to its temporary home in 2013, a converted office block, but after many political turns, now has a permanent site planned for 2016 on the grounds of the old Wildernesse School, probablysharingwith the proposed new grammar school satellite.  Its future looks promising; in spite of the current unpromising temporary buildings for 2014 entry it turned away 38 first choices for its 120 places. For 2015 it had risen to 82. However, there are concerns over the delay in beginning the new buildings, caught up in a political wrangle, so they won't be completed until at least September 2016. Some parents are reported to be unhappy that their children will spend a third year in temporary accommodation, albeit moving to temporary classrooms on the new site, but it will also be a building site. Found Good by OFSTED in Jun 2015, it was described as (excerpt): "Trinity School is an expanding school which currently educates children in Years 7 and 8. At the time of the inspection, it had 236 students on roll. It is smaller than average-sized secondary schools. Trinity School is oversubscribed. It has enrolled more than its stated number of students as it has lost a number of parental admissions appeals. The school accepted a number of students into Year 7 during the course of its first year of operation and grew quickly from an original intake of 89 to its full capacity of 120. Trinity School is scheduled to move into temporary accommodation in July 2015, on the same site as its new premises, which are due to open in September 2016. Trinity School plans to open a sixth form in September 2018. The proportion of disadvantaged students, those eligible for the pupil premium who attend the school is well below the national average. The number of disabled students and those with special educational needs is also well below the national average. The school is situated on the outskirts of Sevenoaks, approximately 12 miles from the nearest secondary faith-based school. The trustees of Trinity School are committed to ensuring at least good-quality faith based education for a maximum of 50% of its cohort. Admission criteria are clearly set out and strictly enforced".

The Wells Free School, Tunbridge Wells. The school website states: "People wanted something more intimate with smaller class sizes, giving children the chance to be genuinely known and understood yet purposefully guided by their teachers to be the best that they could be. Furthermore there was a desire for breaking down barriers within the community, enabling people of all backgrounds and all generations to connect and feel involved. Together we will educate the next generation to achieve excellence; offering structure to feel secure, freedom to grow, and passion to inspire a lifetime's love of learning". It is seen as a response to the chronic shortage of primary school places in Tunbridge Wells discussed in several places on this website, including here.  However, with a planned intake of 22 children it is debatable whether it will make a great impact on the place pressures, although the small classes in a state funded school will be very welcome for those families whose children gain places.  January 2013 - The Wells Free School continues to argue its philosophy of a small school with small classes. If only government had made funding available for more maintained schools to remain small with small classes, as these are clearly popular! However, government funding does not allow this for maintained schools. The school writes: "We are negotiating with Berkeley Homes, who are keen to have TWFS as part of their brand new development on the old Kent and Sussex Hospital site. A new-build will necessarily take longer to achieve than the available time we’ve got until opening. Therefore we will be using temporary accommodation in the meantime. We are working to ensure that this temporary building is located on the K&S site, however to ensure fairness in our application process, we will be using the permanent building as our point of reference when allocating places". In other words, the school would serve the new build, except that places will be allocated before the new houses arrive; but in the longer term it will make little if any impact on the shortage of places in Tunbridge Wells. Proving popular with families, with 19 first choices turned away for September 2015 admission, although five other TW primaries were more popular.

Wye School, Wye near Ashford. The proposal is for a small, comprehensive (non-selective) secondary school in the village of Wye, hopefully situated in the premises of the historic buildings previously occupied by Wye Agricultural College. The website states: "An all ability, co-educational school for 11 – 18 year olds providing excellent teaching within a caring, supportive environment;Strong pastoral support so that the strengths, weaknesses and individual needs of every pupil are known and provided for .The important core curriculum plus an extensive range of extra-curricular activities to enhance and support the core;  academic success is key but  the acquisition of a wide range of skills is equally valuable;A powerful sense of mutual benefit, the pupils giving to and gaining from the local and widercommunity".In fact, this proposal is for a fairly standard offering, catering mainly for the children of Wye and surroundings, contrary to current thinking that a secondary school needs to be of a size to cater for most interests and aptitudes. They could have particular difficulty in supporting the range of extra curricular activities they anticipate, a common test being - will there be enough boys to form a football team?  You will find full details here. At present it sounds very idealistic, seeking to attract all abilities across the polarised grammar/non selective system in Kent. Private schools in East Kent mainly cater for children who have not been found selective under the Kent Eleven plus, and similarly one sees very few parents of able children being attracted such a small comprehensive school. The proposal to focus on the academic curriculum curriculum of the English Baccalaureate indicates the philosophy of the proposers, although their website paints a highly ambitious programme, apparently catering for all interests and aptitudes (nothing wrong with that) which may be difficult to achieve in such a small school. Part of the thinking behind the proposal may be for children to avoid the large and socially diverse non selective schools in Ashford and Kennington, and again, there is nothing wrong with self interest - its just that it would be paid for out of the shrinking funds available for state schools nationally. The school opened with a full roll of 90 children in Year 7, which had been reduced from 120, indicating a limited interest from the community. It has also opened in temporary buildings, but there has been enormous local controversy  over its long term site. It now has temporary planning permission for use of its current buildings for three years, but as yet no firm indication of a permanent site. Very popular for 2014 admission, turning away 44 first choices on allocation in March, 74 in 2015.  Children living further away than 4.37 miles were not offered place although this will increase after successful grammar school appeals take some of the children away. Still at the temporary Kempe Centre in summer 2015, with no obvious news of a permanent site.

Free Schools opened in September 2014
Jubilee Primary Schoolin Maidstone is described in a Press Release as: “Jubilee Primary School will be a two form entry school which will eventually cater for 420 pupils. It will open with two Reception classes with the potential of a Year 1 class if there is sufficient demand. The School will teach the National Curriculum, using it as a springboard for a dynamic and holistic education, tailored to meet the needs of the individual child and specialising in the Arts and in Sport”. It is sponsored by the Jubilee Church based in Upper Stone Street, Maidstone which is a member of ‘Church of the Nations’ an evangelistic and bible teaching based movement of some 200 churches in 40 countries. "The school will be a mainstream primary school with a faith ethos and will be open equally to children of all backgrounds regardless of faith".Like most Free Schools at this stage it is currently without premises, although the Department for Education will be working hard with the sponsors to identify and develop a site for the school. Has opened in an office block previously used by the Kent Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service(CAMHS), apparently with playground space available. In a newspaper interview, the school stated that the Department for Education liked new Free Schools operating in offices.  Nearly full in Year R October 2015 in second year of operation. Some problems with permanent premises.  

Inspire Special Free Schoolis a very different model, a Special School in Medway, catering for cater for pupils with emotional and behavioural concerns. It initially had 40 places eventually rising to 80, based next to Silverbank Park, a secondary pupil referral unit. The Oaks building at Silverbank Park will become a part of the free school, with the rest of the school being built using funds from the government.

The new school was co-sponsored by: Greenacre School; the Williamson Trust (Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School); and Bradfields Special School (presumably under the auspices of Medway Council as it is not an academy). Unusually the Local Authority is integrally involved in the project, which is highly sensible given the difficulties surrounding Statements of Special Education Need and school placements. I look forward to learning more details of what may be a very positive move in Special Education Need.

However, the co-management was a disaster, the school was placed in Special Measures, and has now been taken over by the Parallel Learning Trust, that runs four other Special Schools and PRUs in London.

Free Schools opened in September 2015
A new Free School in Thanet, the Ramsgate Free School, opened in 2015, initially admitting up to 60 children into each of Years R and 3. This appears to be an imaginative and proper use of the Free School concept in a District where there is a severe shortage of primary places and, in yet another new model, is to be sponsored by Chilton Primary School, currently a Community school under the control of KCC. The two schools will be led by Executive Head, Christopher Dale, currently headteacher of the heavily oversubscribed Chilton. Nearly full in Year R on first year of operation in October 2015. It has now been renamed as the Ramsgate Arts Primary School, and is part of the Viking Academy Trust, along with Chilton.
Free Schools opened in September 2018
Bishop Chavasse Primary School run by Bennett Memorial Diocesan school from Tunbridge Wells, opening having been put back two years. It is planned to be an “inclusive school admitting up to 60 children each year from Reception and will provide a high quality, traditional primary education with a Church of England ethos”, and "and prepare children to transfer to a secondary school of their choice (i.e. not just the church schools)" and could give priority for up to 50% of its intake as allowed for in the Schools Admissions Code, although in an initial statement "It is proposed that 25% of places will be allocated on the basis of parental church attendance, and 75% of places will be open enrolment, available to those of all faiths or none in the local community". Further details here
Chilmington Green School, run by Stour Academy Trust. The school is two f.e. and was the first of a number of new primary schools to meet the major expansion of Ashford, to be followed also by new secondary provision. In 2021 it is still in temporary accommodation over a mile away from the site of the new school. You will find plans of the new site here.  
Turner Free School, Folkestone.  On the site of the now closed Pent Valley School, run by the controversial Turner Schools trust. Initially a four f.e. N/S school, it rapidly became six f.e. at the expense of the Folkestone Academy, also run by Turner Schools. You will find my initial article on its opening here, more recently here.    
Free Schools opened in September 2019
Two new schools opened in September, both in Dartford. These are
Stone Lodge School, a 6 f.e. N/S secondary school with Sixth Form, initially in temporary buildings is part of the Endeavour MAT, Further details here.
River Mill Primary School is also in temporary accommodation and is run by the Connect Schools Academy Trust. Further details here. It carries an excellent (although now partially out of data FAQs Section. 
Free Schools opened in September 2020
Six new schools opened in September, described here. They are: The School of Science and Technology Maidstone;  Springhead Park, Gravesham; Ebbsfleet Green, Dartford;  Bearsted Primary Academy, Maidstone; and two Special Schools, Aspire School, Sittingbourne, and Snowfields Academy, Maidstone.
Nest Page: Approved Free Schools yet to open, July 2021, and the one proposal which was dropped.  

Approved Free Schools yet to open, July 2021, and the one proposal which was dropped.  
Pre-Opening Phase,
The latest published government list of Approved Free Schools in Kent and Medway, up to July 2021 and still in the pre-opening stage, includes the Kent and Medway schools below. Most of these have also been considered in previous articles, brought up to date here. Several have been waiting for many years with as yet no sign of progress.
The schools are: Alkerden CofE Academy (all through), Ebbsfleet; Barton Manor School (secondary), Canterbury; Chapelfield Primary, Maidstone; Chilmington Green Secondary Academy, Ashford; Leigh Academy Rainham;  Park Crescent Academy, Margate; Rochester Riverside CofE Primary School; Special School, Isle of Sheppey; St Andrew’s Primary Free School, Paddock Wood; The Beeches (Alternative Provision Primary Centre), Chatham;  The Maritime Academy, Strood.
Fuller details on all the pre-opening approved schools below. 
Schools Approved in Principle:
Conningbrook CofE Primary School, Kennington; Gravesend Central School.  You will find further details about both via the links. 
Alkerden CofE Academy, Ebbsfleet.
 Alcerden School
In 2018 The Aletheia Anglican Academies Trust was awarded a new eight f.e. (forms of entry) N/S (non-selective secondary) school with Sixth Form in the Alkerden District of the new garden city of Ebbsfleet, with a 15 place Specialist Resourced Provision (SEN Unit) for children with ASD. Subsequently, a new two f.e. primary school and Nursery was added as part of an all-through provision at the request of KCC. It will also contain a dual provision sports centre and the whole project is funded by the housing developers, Henley Camland. The school will initially open with four forms of entry in Year Seven in September 2023. 
Barton Manor School is to be run by Barton Court Academy Trust
Barton Manor 2
Like many Free Schools before it, the opening of this five f.e. N/S school with a Sixth Form, approved in 2017, was delayed because of ‘protracted negotiations between KCC and the Department for Education over how much of the site will be given over to the school’. A previous article with planned opening in 2019, is here, then a further delay until 2021, but the school will now open in September 2022  admitting five forms of entry at Year Seven, at a cost of £20 million. You will find details of Open Mornings and Evenings for admission on the school website, here.  Last year (2020), KCC predicted that an extra 135 Year 7 places will be needed in the city by 2021, but in practice, there were 51 N/S vacancies according to the October 2020 schools census. See also here
Chapelfield School, Maidstone, approved February 2021.  A two f.e. primary school, To be run by the Bromley based Chancery Education Trust but unlikely to open until 2024 when new development in the area around Maidstone Hospital provides the need. It was the only new Kent or Medway Free School to be approved in the 2021 round. Further details here
Chilmington Green Secondary Academy in Ashford is to be run by United Learning.
Chilmington Green
Approved in June 2019 and is planned to open in 2023, according to its website. The school will be N/S six f.e. together with a Sixth Form and Sports Centre, and will open with four forms of entry. It will cost £22.5 million, paid for by the developer, who will also provide the site. See also here.
 Leigh Academy Rainham. Approved for pre-opening in 2017 and now opening in September 2021, with a planned N/S six f.e., but in fact is opening with 240 Year Seven pupils; see here. It will be run by the Leigh Academies Trust.
Leigh Academy Rainham 2 
You will find the school website here. See also here for a fuller comment. 
Park Crescent Academy, Margate, a highly controversial project approved for pre-opening in 2018,  is to be sponsored by the Howard AcademyTrust and now planned to open in 2023 for six N/S f.e. but no Sixth Form. It is the only one of the twelve new secondary schools in Kent and Medway, open or planned since Ebbsfleet Academy in 2013 not to have a Sixth Form, a decision clearly made because of space limitations. Coincidentally, I was also in at the birth of Ebbsfleet Academy, and received assurances at an open meeting from the then KCC Cabinet Member, that the new school would not be built on the current site as it was too small and had no room for a Sixth Form. Ebbsfleet was built there, hasn't a Sixth Form, and has struggled ever since. I have written extensively on the development, most recently here, where I describe the Planning Application as 'exposing the utter poverty of the concept. The education case set out for it is almost non-existent, whilst the site is described as being ‘constricted or constrained where space is at a premium’  and is also constrained by being on two distinct levels, with the very limited recreational and sporting outdoor areas dependent on the nearby public  Dane Park Playing Fields'. 
 Rochester Riverside Church of England Primary School is to be run by the Pilgrim Multi-Academy Trust approved in 2017. Work has now started on the new two f.e. school, due to open in September 2022. 
The school will be part of the new Rochester Riverside housing development, close to Rochester railway station.
 St Andrew's Primary Free School, Paddock Wood, to be run by the Tenax Trust.
It was planned to open this school in 2018, in what appears to be an initiative by the Trust, rather than a response to a shortage of places. According to the school website, it reached the stage where a contractor was identified to build the new school after tenders were considered. However, the site goes on to explain that ‘Following a recent review of KCC’s data by the DfE, it has been determined that the analysis of Basic Need does not yet support the opening of this two form entry school’  because of slower rate of housebuilding than expected. The project has therefore been ‘paused’, although ‘The Tenax Trust and St Andrew’s remain wholeheartedly committed to this project and to the delivery of a new Church primary school, when appropriate’.
The Beeches, an Alternative Provision Centre in Medway. There is a complex background issue highlighted here, one paragraph explaining that: High levels of exclusion coupled with the rarity of reintegration means that there is insufficient space in the two Medway Alternative Provision schools to accommodate even half of permanently excluded children. This forces the local authority to place in settings that are either less than ‘good’ or are outside of Medway. It also offers a rationale for Alternative Provision schools which are ‘intended, in most cases, to be short stay schools, with pupils returning to their home school after a period of intervention to improve behaviour’.  In Kent the AP Schools cater to a large extent for pupils at risk of permanent exclusion, although in Medway there appears no such facility. The new proposal for Medway is for ‘establishing a single all through integrated service on a single site. This service would result in: a short stay provision for permanently excluded primary school children and secondary pupils in key stage 3; time limited behaviour modification places for referred primary school pupils and secondary in key stage 3; educational placements for students in key stage 4 for whom reintegration is not appropriate;  outreach services to schools; and all primary and secondary pupils up to the end of year nine should be on a reintegration plan’. It is therefore proposed ‘to amalgamate Will Adams and The Rowans into an all-through provision, initially on a split site and over time to merge onto a single site at the Rowans, by the technical closure of Will Adams and the expansion of The Rowans’.  Then follows the only mention of The Beeches: 'The delivery of the DFE funded Beeches Free School operated by the highly thought of and Ofsted rated outstanding, Rowans Alternative Provision Centre, under the Inspiring Change Trust should be supported. The Beeches will be located on the same site would provide the all-through element recommended by the review'. In another document the ‘school’ is described as ‘The Beeches: an alternative provision primary school with places for 35 pupils with behavioural issues and excluded children. This will be managed by the Rowans Academy Trust and will be located adjacent to the current Rowans site! Hardly sounds very separate for a new Free School. An advertisement for a new Primary School Lead Teacher, reports that the Centre will open in a new purpose built building in 2023. 
The Maritime Academy, Strood, to be run by the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, and approved in 2017, illustrates one of the central problems facing potential Free Schools in moving from concept to realisation. A Medway Council Cabinet Paper for a Meeting back in March 2020 sets out major issues with a proposed land purchase to the West of Berwick Way and south of Frindsbury Hill, dealing with ‘overage’ a legal condition I am not sure I understand but which has proved a major stumbling block. The Minutes of the Meeting show that the Council decided to ‘underwrite the overage held against the land’. This decision would only cost the Authority money if the DFE, having bought the land, sold it for housing within the next 14 years. The decision meant that: ‘Approving the underwriting of the overage will enable the Department for Education (DFE) to agree a land acquisition with the owners of the Manor Barn site, and is a low risk high reward strategy which will provide a site for the construction of a secondary Free School, to help meet increasing demand in Medway, with all construction costs met by the DFE’ All of this suggests that the project is back on track, as confirmed in other Medway Council papers, although the new school will not be ready until at least 2021. Somewhere during this process, it was noticed that there would be no demand for additional places in Strood, and the school reduced from being all-through to providing just secondary places. See also here.
Proposal Lapsed
The proposal for Hope Community School, Northfleet originally aiming to open in September 2017,  in an area where there is a dire shortage of primary school places was scrapped on the grounds that there were sufficient primary places in Gravesham (but not in Northfleet!). It would have been part of the New Generation Schools Trust, run by the New Generation Church, an Evangelical Christian Church that already runs a Free School in Bexley. As with the Jubilee Primary School in Maidstone, with a similar background, it will present issues for some families living in the area, as there may be no alternative to this faith school offered. The preferred location for the school is on the Springhead Development, where KCC turned down the opportunity to open its own school a few years ago, on the grounds there would be overcapacity. The school was subsequently replaced by the new Springhead Park Primary Academy, Gravesham which opened in 2020.  





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