Free school vows to fight planning rejection

10:00 15 May 2013

Route 39 principal Joss Glossop said the school will pursue an appeal.

Route 39 principal Joss Glossop said the school will pursue an appeal.

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Route 39 Academy vows to appeal as councillors go against advice and reject plans for school’s temporary site.

A temporary classroom similar to the ones Route 39 hoped to install at the Milky Way.A temporary classroom similar to the ones Route 39 hoped to install at the Milky Way.

NORTH Devon’s first free school vows it will fight to open in September after councillors rejected plans for its temporary site.

Route 39 Academy intended to open at the Milky Way this year before moving to a permanent site near Bucks Cross.

But Torridge District Council’s plans committee refused planning permission for the temporary classrooms and playground on Thursday.

Joss Glossop, principal of the school, said Route 39 was ‘extremely disappointed’ in the five councillors who voted to refuse the application and the school would appeal.

"We feel they made the wrong decision and we have strong grounds for an appeal."

Joss Gollop, principle of Route 39 Academy

“We feel they made the wrong decision and we have strong grounds for an appeal,” she said.

“There was always going to be a slim chance this was going to happen so we do have other irons in the fire.

“We have 60 families signed up and fantastic first year teaching staff in place; I feel secure in saying that we will be opening in September.”

The application for the site, which received 95 letters of support and 91 letters of objection, was recommended for approval by planning officers.

But councillors flagged up issues with the sustainability of the school and the impact on the roads.

During a heated debate Councillor David Lausen called the travel plans submitted by the school ‘nonsense’.

He echoed points made earlier in the meeting by David Fitzsimmons, the head teacher of Holsworthy Community College.

Mr Fitzsimmons claimed there was no need for a fifth secondary school in the area, and the number of pupils in the area was ‘finite’.

He said secondary schools needed 900 pupils to be economically viable but Holsworthy Community College only had 675 ‘and that number was going down’.

“The points made by Mr Fitzsimmons are absolutely spot on,” said Cllr Lausen.

“It’s not a free school; it’s a very expensive school, taking money from tax payers.”

Councillor Kathy Murdoch echoed Cllr Lausen’s views, saying she didn’t believe the plans for the school were sustainable.

But Councillor Chris Leather said he saw no reason to refuse the plans, and moved to approve them.

“West Buckland school can hardly be counted as sustainable; Shebbear College is in a rural location; both are very successful,” he said.

“I have always thought we needed another secondary school in the Bideford area.”

Richard Bence, chairman of governors for the school, also dismissed councillors’ claims the school was unsustainable.

“I find the assumption acutely hypocritical as being chairman of Welcombe Parish Council we are being asked by Torridge to plan for additional housing,” he said.

“If a location on the A39 is unsustainable I don’t know on what grounds they believe a village three miles from it is less unsustainable.”

At the meeting, Mr Bence said the impact Route 39 had on other schools in the area would depend on their responses to new competition.

“No school in the area is currently rated as outstanding by Ofsted. We want to bring an exemplary school to the area,” he said.

On the Gazette website, our story reporting the outcome of the planning meeting received dozens of comments for and against the proposed school.

Thousands of you also took to our online poll with 59 per cent agreeing with the council’s decision to reject the plans.

Route 39 Academy confirmed it was working ‘flat out’ with the Education Funding Agency to open in September and hoped to announce more next week.

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57 comments

  • I think a meeting would be good as from experience people see this as a common courtesy and good manners that their opinion matters. No I do not think it will sway peopls opinions but as a public relations issue it would probably go a long way- in business when you make a decision that affects others you have to be prepared to back up that decision with reasoning. I spent a good length of time last night looking at all the things said by both sides and can see where Sparky is coming from when reading some of the comments by parents re other schools and I cannot see where his bullying(a very strong word) came in? I would say you have made a decision based on your child's needs as you perceive them and stick to that. I hope that the school provides what you are looking forhas been promised if it goes ahead. As a parent of a child(now at uni) who has gone through the local system I then found in the teachers info pack the quote that local children do not see university as the norm. I decided to ring my child and see what they felt and how many of his year went approximately. The response was about a third which seems reasonable? (Having the nearest university 50 miles away is not unusual in this country)

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    Sid

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Ben, there's something about this whole situation that's making me feel more and more uncomfortable. I cannot understand how Route 39 got the go-ahead from the DoE in the first place. What on earth could have persuaded them that it was 'needed'? They surely couldn't have taken at face-value the list of signatures presented by the school's supporters - they aren't that naive. They must have looked at further evidence, surely, to convince themselves it was justified? I mean, the area is not only under-subscribed, but contains the newly-built at £54m, state-of-the-art Bideford College. I seem to recall that Route 39 were one of only a few successful applicants for a new school at the time - most were rejected, I understand; I wonder how many of the 'rejects' were actually more valid? Why on earth did the DoE give the go-ahead for this academy placed in the middle of a decent selection of largely LA-run 'state' schools? Or have I just answered my own question? The supporters of Route 39 are welcome to correct me because all I have are suspicions, but I sense a malign political agenda. In which case, Mr Gove will NOT want this to fail under any circumstances - neither the actual application nor the resulting Ofsted reports. Am I talking from cuckoo land? Not if the article on this morning's Radio 4 news program contains any truth. And, since the whole 'free' school program is shrouded in such secrecy (how much money has ALREADY been spent on Route 39? And is this pot largely bottomless? I suspect so - they aren't going to let it fail now), no wonder its detractors are suspicious of sleight of hand.

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    Chippy

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

  • As I said in another article on this subject, Route 39 is not required, we have three private schools in the area, all of which (as far as I know) run bursary schemes. Therefore anyone who wants an alternative to the likes of Bideford College is free to apply for a bursary so their child can attend, Kingsley School, West Buckland School or Shebbear College. The exam results for GCSE certainly are way above average for state schools, coming in at about 80-90% of pupils getting five or more GCSEs at A-C grades.

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    JWPepper

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • Sid, hope you are enjoying the glorious weather. I am afraid I am not sure how the stage not age concept will work, that will become clearer as time passes I expect. So glad you asked about what would happen should the school be a hit. This is where the idea of selfishness for many of us falls flat. My daughter is 5 so there is every chance that she might not be able to go. However if it never opens there is no chance at all. Many of us are not just wanting this for ourselves but for the area we all live in and love. I would dearly love to see villages come back to life with bakers, butchers, proper grocers and other small businesses. It will bring some much needed prosperity to this area which is in danger of becoming a large retirement community. I doubt that those that have chosen to retire here would like to see it become like that. Families bring life to villages and this benefits everyone. I am very passionate about the detrimental effect of large supermarkets on rural economies and communities. I also feel strongly that farmers would benefit from small communities thriving again by having local places to sell crops, meat etc and get a better deal, this would also have a positive influence on food miles & the environment. I know it is a very utopian idea but wouldn't it be fantastic. Before anyone says that local shops will be too expensive for families on low incomes, I disagree. As a nation we have a strong history of thrift with food and these skills are not lost. I may buy organic & local and pay the price but by golly I can get a lot out of it! Anyway off my soap box and back into the garden.

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    Henrietta

    Sunday, May 19, 2013

  • We all have one thing in common we want the best for our own or others children and the wider community We just disagree on what that constitutes as we are entitled to. There does not seem to be a middle ground where people can try and find compromise you either really see the benefit of the school or you really see the damage it can cause. I can see a bit of both sides but my hope is that it won't damage the local schools as much as they fear and it will benefit more than just the children that will be there.

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    Henrietta

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • I just don't understand the attitude that I keep hearing from R39's supporters - "If WE don't get the money it will go somewhere else in the country (like Liverpool!)" So are we only supposed to care about the welfare and education of children who live in in North Devon then? Heaven forbid that millions of pounds of public funds should go to build a school somewhere in the rest of the UK where they are genuinely in need of one!

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    Laura

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Thanks, Henrietta. Surely, then, the same would apply should they rather go to Torrington School? Ie. Bideford children from low-income families ALREADY have a choice? Ergo, hardly a valid justification for Route 39? (In any case, isn't Route 39 going to be positioned waaaay over 6 miles from Bideford?)

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    Chippy

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • You are aware that holsworthy have been losing pupils to okehampton for a while now probably many more than are going to R39. If schools want to ostracise R39 pupils that is their choice and although somewhat petty not much anyone can do about it. You are of course entitled to your opinion but I have never seen R39 say any of those things about local schools. I know a lot of parents who have children doing well at Bideford but also some who feel it will not suit their children or are having problems there now. If for example you have a family on a low income who has a child unsuited to Bideford what do you suggest they do at this point? They won't be eligible for free transport to Torrington, Bude or Holsworthy so they are stuck and their children pay the price.

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    Henrietta

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • As I said before (but you said they were too busy)they should have a meeting to actually talk to those concerned . If the press attended then whoever throws the first (not literallly)punch in terms of verbal abuse(as both sides seem to be saying the others are doing) it would be reported. I am sorry you think I was not on that stupid fence(why I ever used that term I will never know ) but can assure you I was. And could still climb up or drop the other side iif new info dictated.The word substandard was used on here by a supporter . Maybe making public the perceived under hand tactics of opponentswould help BUT the danger is it could happen in reverse if there is contrary info.My last post on subject and I will watch and research with interest.

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    Sid

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • I was not making threats against children, Henrietta! I was just pointing out that there is such bad feeling towards R39 from the other schools that I couldn't imagine them being invited to join in with inter-school events and competitions. I was not for one second implying that their students would be bullied at such events, and I can't see why you were so quick to reach that conclusion. Holsworthy are expecting less Year 7 students in September this year because some children from their feeder primaries (mostly Bradworthy I think) have signed up for R39. Of course, that's their choice but it means a lower budget for Holsworthy, hence the redundancies. I do not work at at any of the schools but I have children who I am proud to say attend Bideford. R39 have been very negative about local schools, implying teachers care more about paper work than their students, have low expectations, and don't give sixth formers aspirations for university. I can't find any truth in what they say and I have been really disgusted at the way they lie and twist things. They seem more like politicians than educators, and I feel ( just my opinion of course) that they are very poor role models.

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    Sparky

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Ben, if the local schools were demonstrating high standards and providing even average results I would support you. But it is totally wrong to criticise parents who won't put up with it and state they should bring about change by being proactive in the existing schools. You seem to be suggesting that the way to improve the local schools is for parents to campaign for improvements. What is the point of the leadership and governors of these schools then? Surely that is their job? It seems incredible that parents need to stimulate this change because it seems the leaders are too complacent or incapable to do it off their own backs. Ben, you are trying to divide a community by pitching parent against parent. That is conniving and unjust. I suggest you point your ire towards those that run the schools producing sub-standard results who evidently fail their students and I guess their staff too. It is time for them to provide an answer for their failure. The more I hear, the more I think this new school can't come soon enough.

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    Chas_ND

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Morning all, Chippy without pulling the relevant info from Devon cc site I can't give exact quotes but you only get free transport to your designated school if you live over 3 miles away. In our case Bideford is the designated school so that is all those on low incomes or even large families have as a choice. I am fortunate that when the time comes I can afford to pay the transport out of area but many are not so fortunate or want the long travel times for their children. There is a useful map called devon school area maps you can google which will give more info than I can

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    Henrietta

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

  • In the end it is up to the council to decide, impartially,based on all the evidence, what the final decision is when it goes to appeal, unless, as appears to have happened elsewhere, it is taken out of their hands by a higher authority. As far as the pro and against lobbies go it is clear they both feel they can argue a case but it might be better if the pro stopped decrying the state of all the other local schools - at least until they themselves have the promised outstanding award from OFSTED.

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    Sid

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • Chippy, we do all have minds of our own, perhaps this is why we have the need for a alternative, because we don't swallow what we are told about local schools 'hook, line and sinker'!

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    Poppy

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • Some comments are appearing some not and they have closed the comments on the other article now so we cannot respond further. One quick myth I would like to squash is that R39 has PR people and publicists and a glossy media spin machine. The money is not there for such things so it is the normal team putting it out there. A lot of people want the school and feel that there is a genuine need, a lot of people feel the opposite and most fall somewhere in the middle and are being made to feel that wanting something different is wrong and being guilt tripped into turning away from something they hoped would happen. At the end of the day the government & the council will make the decision not us.

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    Henrietta

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Poppy, the school will not cost the local schools anything if it goes to Liverpool. I don't disagree that the government should build more schools, just here because it is totally unnecessary.

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    Ben

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

  • So, it's the delightful old Clovely School?! In a surprise further move, Route 39 are going to divulge just how much it'll cost to convert this small ex-Primary school into a fully-functioning, albeit temporary, Secondary. Got you! Of course they won't. Torrington School had a truly wonderful atmosphere when we looked around it a few months ago. The pupils (and staff) seemed very happy, and were on task in every classroom we popped in to. A really positive feel all round - and an eccentric History teacher who had us all in stitches to boot. Some of the classrooms were a bit tatty, though. I know supporters of Route 39 will claim "If we didn't get the money, Torrington wouldn't either", but it just doesn't feel right that a new, unneeded, school is being imposed on us on the whim of a small number of people (and the GOVErnment) that will almost certainly take FUTURE money away from our current schools. It just doesn't seem right to me.

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    Chippy

    Monday, May 20, 2013

  • A little note for some of the parents here... As a teacher from a good local secondary school you should understand that the data you are receiving from ofsted and data dashboards is steeped in loopholes and problems. Ofsted move the goalposts all the time. What's outstanding one minute is only barely satisfactory the next. Comparison between local schools against national data is flawed as this data is no longer contextualised, meaning it no longer takes into account the background and social, economic surroundings of the school and its pupils. No school is perfect but they are all trying to do the best they can with falling budgets. We are in a dip for pupil populations at the moment (with this coming year being the worst) so those schools complaining of falling numbers are not necessarily unpopular or failing (except perhaps in their marketing of catchment). There are simply not enough pupils to fill the schools. If a school makes redundancies it would certainly be the supporting staff, temporary contracts or voluntary redundancies that would be the first. It would most certainly NOT be an outstanding teacher that would end up at Route 39, as I presume they would be needing if they are going to instantly hit outstanding. For those looking for an alternative, you actually have a wide choice of schools locally, try those. Not all children settle in to their first school and I will leave it you to place the responsibility on the school (I know my school works very hard with all its pupils but some simply do not find it enjoyable, this a awful and I support any parent in their choice, but to solely blame the school is sometimes unfair). The key point many seem to miss is exactly how ANY institution can instantly become outstanding purely by being new... Yes the money is available now but this purely pays for buildings and assets. Schools are now funded pro-rata per pupil, so in a sense the money this school will take in its running is coming DIRECTLY out of the budgets of other local schools. Devon was until only recently the 3rd worst funded authority in the UK, so our secondary have been putting up with less than their fair share for a LONG time. Route 39 simply worsens the problems highlighted. No one can claim they will become outstanding from the start, least of all a free school, which will no further financial incentives than any other academy in the area, and these get only slightly more control over their budgets than authority run schools, (and definitely not MORE funding). Looking at the plans for September, Route 39 would have to pull something of a miracle to be considered outstanding. For starters, there is no way of directly comparing them to local secondary schools because they will not have any GSCE results until their year 8 cohort finishes their KS4, which even at year 10 entry would not be until Autumn 2016. Are the local schools so bad that any parent reading this would want to risk that kind of claim? Route 39 is promising things that no secondary school would even dare, simply because it is being marketed as a business. I would like to see if trading standards should get involved should they fail... I'm not against a new school or options for parents at all, like others have said, the free school idea is extremely successful in areas where shortages are found but unfortunately that is not the case here. Route 39 processes through this appear to have been opaque and closed at best and damn near underhand in places. It's communications with local schools show it seems uninterested in playing its part within the local educational community. The argument that the government seems to think there is room for another school is flawed as well. If another was being suggested then the answer would have easily been a flat no. The only difference is that free schools are not forced to follow certain agreements with regard to working times, staffing and unions. The government is looking for academies and free schools simply because they are easier to mould in any particular political landscape. The irony is that if the authority schools were able choose who they took, then many youngsters who find the current academic system very difficult simply wouldn't have an education at all. You have to assume that even if Route 39 get passed the underwhelming uptake, temporary buildings and what sounds like a very limited pool of subject specialists, it will ultimately become just another satisfactory to good school. There is NO EVIDENCE to the contrary. And the school doesn't seem willing to present any, instead it makes wild assumptions. Sorry for the essay but I feel there was a little more detail needed here. Thanks for reading.

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    Ben

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • Hello again Ben, I did write an essay .... Well more of a dissertation earlier but it failed to upload. I find your last sentence disappointing, as a teacher you are entitled to have a view but to make parents and pupils fear the new school is scaremongering. The government would never allow such a thing to happen. Your not really setting a very good example to your students are you? I agree with Henrietta, the government and the council will have the final verdict.

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    Poppy

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Postscript.Comment appeared on Supporters FB page following the meeting tonight saying glad the pupils have somewhere to go.So does this mean they have secured a new site ?

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    Sid

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Thanks for the clarification, Henrietta. I'd have thought that almost ALL the children in "no-man's land" would have free transport to the school of their choice as they'd almost certainly be living beyond 3 miles of them.

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    Chippy

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

  • Mistakes are easy to make when you are passionate about your beliefs, none of us can say we have never made one, however, if one is man enough to put their hand up and say 'I was wrong, I apologise' then you hope the other party is man enough to accept and move on? The Route 39 supporters will remain in support, the 'no' campaigners will most probably remain against. It's out of our hands now, those of you against have had the opportunity to say what you like, even bend the truth and as soon as someone pro R39 makes a mistake they are slammed. It's getting rather monotonous now. If you are reading this and you are undecided please look up a little research, expel myths, this free school WILL cost us (the tax payer) all even if it goes to Liverpool. You never know you may need an alternative choice for your child.

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    Poppy

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Blimey, it really HAS all been said now. Thanks, Ben.

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    Chippy

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • After reading all the posts, I am aware that emotions are running high on the subject and do not wish to make inflammatory comments. However, I will climb on my soapbox once more, just to ask parents a few questions: - Are you prepared to take it at face value that Route 39 will be better than the current options? Isn't that a bit naive? - Do you not feel that it is taking a big risk for your children? What if they can't actually deliver the outstanding education you are hoping for? - Are you not worried that "heavy parental involvement" might actually become a problem? After all, there is such a thing as too many cooks. And what will happen when you inevitably come to disagree on a given issue? Ultimately, it is a gamble I wouldn't be prepared to take for my own children. I wouldn't want them to have to pay the bill for me relying on others giving them the best education. At the end of the day, a parent reaches the point when he or she has to trust his or her own ability to bring up his child to be a happy, confident, resilient and successful person regardless of which school the child attends.

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    Monnomdeplume

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Unfortunately Henrietta you have pushed me off the fence and into the against lobby, not because I believe the school is not a good thing in theory but in the way Sparky has been accused of threatening children on a public forum when in fact he does nothing of the sort. You have apologised but the accusation sits for all to see.If this is how the supporters intend to react ,and to be fair hate and negativity is quite clear on other sites from the parents,when questioned and the governors refuse to meet those concerned due to being too busy is it any wonder heckles rise. Having read the teacher info I am concerned they feel our children do not aspire to university- our child went as did a third of his year from one of those (quote from Chas) substandard schools. When Route 39 do this or better then they are in a position to criticise.The attitude and words of some of the parents maybe suggest they do not want their children to mix with the other schools as they are so poor?!!!Route 39 should have provided evidence on their bid to say how they will work with other local schools, what did they put?

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    Sid

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • My last comment also failed to upload??

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    Poppy

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Chas-ND, it is a shame that parents are being pitted against each other and told that we have a choice between our child and the rest of Torridges children. We are not allowed to take up an offer presented to us because it will cause damage to the other children. That is and awful thing to say to parents who are just trying their best. I do sincerely hope that any of the opposition parents don't find themselves in a position where they need an alternative.

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    Henrietta

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Chippy, I think the parents that I speak to are mostly from the no-mans land away from bideford such as Clovelly, bucks, some parts of hartland and other rural residents. I would need to look at a map to be sure the exact mileage but you are right bideford residents would have torrington as a choice.

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    Henrietta

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Chas, just because a school is judged satisfactory does not men that it's leadership is complacent or lazy. That's offensive and I should expect, totally unjust. When I suggested being proactive I meant that parents need to cooperate with schools in solving problems and trust the school, (not persist in unreasonably expecting an expensive and unnecessary alternative). There is a suggestion that some children are unsuitable for big schools and I have to say that I feel that is mostly where the problem lies. Parents, of course want the best for their children and should ask for it at every juncture, but if you live in a rural community you accept the impending travel costs or perhaps lower choice. That's just being realistic. The schools in the local are working EXTREMELY hard and many parents are very happy with the provision. The fact is, this school should not have been given the go ahead from the start. It's convinced parents that it will be outstanding when there is no evidence to support this assumption. It's marketed itself aggressively by suggesting the local schools are inadequate and it's making promises it can't keep. The website suggests every pupil will engage with their learning and respect each other. What if this is not the case? The school cannot exclude without serious reason to do so and school transfers or managed moves would require it to be a lot more friendly to its neighbours than it has been. The school must have an inclusive admissions policy so it would need to take adequate share of supported and statemented children (under education act 1996). This is a state school being marketed like an independent school, which I can see is appealing. I'm not pitting parents against each other, the people who decided this should all go ahead have done that by allowing this ridiculous idea to continue. Lets build a new hospital while we're at it... I'm sure some people would prefer to go to a smaller outstanding hospital because they think the local one has too many deaths...maybe we should scrap the new Chemo unit in favour of this alternative (there HAS to be choice). That's very flippant of me I know, quite unprofessional, but I'm at not at work. If the school goes ahead, we will of course welcome route 39 pupils with open arms. Have a good weekend all, regardless of your chosen school, I hope your child is happy, challenged and successful. That is one thing we can all agree on!

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    Ben

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Oh yes the chairman of the governors is a very busy man - he's also on the governors at a Budehaven feeder primary and he's the chair of Welcombe parish council. And then there's all that spin to be spun. Busy busy. Still no excuse why he can't, along with the others, meet the 'opposition' and address our fears for the education of the majority of the children from this area. He could start by trying to convince the teachers who have lost their jobs at Holsworthy that it's nothing to do with R39. I feel that the way R39 have tried to put down our local secondaries has been disgusting. How on earth will the children who go there play sports against other schools, join in local music and drama events etc? The 'governors' and the head at R39 have already let their potential students down badly, by damaging their relationship with local schools in their desperate attempt to claim that they will be 'outstanding' while the others are inadequate. I feel sorry for the parents who have fallen for these lies , but I feel much sorrier for their children.

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    Sparky

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Dogs(prefer!).However busy they are it would seem a good move to have a meeting . The elected (I assume) representatives saying 'we are too busy to meet and address the concerns of others who are affected' may appear to be ignoring the opposition and not caring . Just a thought from an outsider.x

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    Sid

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Henrietta, I don't understand how Route 39 provides an alternative to, say, Bideford College for low-income families. I understand you only receive free transport if the school is further than 3 miles away AND there isn't a closer alternative? So, if a Bideford resident decides they don't want to send their child to Bideford College, surely they will then HAVE to pay for transport to an alternative school? How will it be cheaper for a Bideford resident to get to Route 39 than, say, Torrington - another decent alternative?

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    Chippy

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Oh & Sparky, apologies for jumping to conclusions you hit a bit of a r39 bullying nerve.

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    Henrietta

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Oops - and Sid!

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    Chippy

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • Hi Poppy, thanks for your reply, I certainly would not suggest that schools obtaining good or outstanding judgements are not working exceedingly hard for them. I only know that secondary schools who were previously good or even close to outstanding in previous judgements were all of a sudden barely satisfactory or good under ofsted's recent change in criteria. My own school's results have increased significantly overall, yet we are working hard against uncontextualised national data. I would also never suggest that parents are being brain washed by any set of reports or propaganda they receive. I simply wished to present a valid argument in defence of schools that are actually improving in many ways but get labelled as poor. Your personal experiences with some of these schools will have helped make your decision I'm sure and I'm saddened to hear they were obviously not positive. I'd be interested to read what you saw on a governors site that appalled you. But I suppose I am as equally as baffled as to extent so many parents consider Route 39 as a better alternative. I will admit I have not read the rhetoric or seen as much of the detail as you probably have. But I simply can not understand how the school can market itself as outstanding before it is even built. The predictions for results are based on exams that haven't even been written yet under a government inspectorate that will undoubtably have changed its leadership and focus. The new standards and criteria for outstanding are exceptionally challenging even for the well established, well funded, fully populated schools that already exist. With the effect this will have on funding in those schools, the challenge will be even greater. I certainly agree with your right to want the very best education for your children but this would absolutely come at the cost of worsening the educational entitlement of thousands of pupils in the local area, if you were the parent of a year 10 pupil who is due to take their exams next year in a local school you would be appalled by the idea of your child losing out simply because a shiny new school popped up out of nowhere.

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    Ben

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Henrietta, I don't understand how Route 39 provides an alternative to, say, Bideford College for low-income families. I understand you only receive free transport if the school is further than 3 miles away AND there isn't a closer alternative? So, if a Bideford resident decides they don't want to send their child to Bideford College, surely they will then HAVE to pay for transport to an alternative school? How will it be cheaper for a Bideford resident to get to Route 39 than, say, Torrington - another decent alternative?

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    Chippy

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Chippy, children on free school meals get transport up to 6 miles away so this would help them.

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    Henrietta

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Thanks Henrietta, but your accusations of my threatening children have really shaken me, so I will bow out at this point. If local teachers feel upset about the game that the staff of R39 are playing, I am positive that they would never let the children see how they feel. We are talking about professional people here, for the most part hugely caring and supportive and just trying to do their best in tough economic times and under enormous pressure. My own daughter had a bad time of it with bullies in Yr 3, and I did spend a tear-filled afternoon ringing round every local primary trying to find a place for her but in the end, she stayed where she was - the staff were amazing and together, we worked things through and gave her the confidence to go happily into Yr 4 knowing that she had overcome a bumpy patch in her childhood. I don't think me allowing her to 'run away' from the issue would have helped her as a person in the long run. Now she is settled at secondary school and I am actually glad it is so big! Because, the more children there are in a school, the higher the chance each child will find real soul mates who enjoy doing the same things as them, whether that be chess club, reading in the library or kicking a ball about in the playground. I notice on R39s website today they have told us that, through their research, they have found out that parents have a bigger impact on a child's education than the school. This makes it all the more shocking to me that millions of pounds of public money might be spent on a new school for a very small minority of local children who are privileged enough to have what are clearly very supportive and concerned parents on their side. I know we will never agree - I am simply fundamentally opposed to R39 on every level, and so I wish you well Henrietta, but I won't be commenting on here again. I thought comments on here might be less emotive than on facebook, where I have chosen not to get involved, but they are clearly not.

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    Sparky

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Oh & Sparky, apologies for jumping to conclusions you hit a bit of a r39 bullying nerve.

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    Henrietta

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Chas, Malvern and Poppy: yes I'm on here to help provide another viewpoint :) And, yes, I've seen the posts on the other thread, and have made what I expect to be my final comment on it - read it if you wish. It's all been said.

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    Chippy

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • I agree with you entirely on this one Chas. Chippy, you might like to look at the other page as there are some comments for you.

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    Malvern

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • The actual letters for support were 95 and 91 for opposition as per the figures quoted in the meeting

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    Henrietta

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • Chippy, see you've jumped to this page to promote your argument. I don't know the answer to your population suggestion but it strikes me that if the schools are under numbers it may be because they are not popular rather than there are too few children. Do you have the figures that prove that either way? In regard to how good the schools are, I have already said on the other page how Ofsted has rated Bideford as satisfactory since 2002 - although the principal suggested satisfactory was the new good! Looking at the Ofsted website it also looks like Holsworthy is also satisfactory. This hardly suggests we have the best schools. I have also found what Ofsted call a data dashboard for schools. Looking through that it looks like across the local schools the number of children making 'expected progress' is well below the national average and appears to be in decline. I wonder how many children this equals, it is not clear from the information, perhaps the schools can let us know. If you have confidence in the local schools, great. From looking at the data I don't.

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    Chas_ND

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • Sid, the government will decide if the final funding agreement will be approved and the council I assume will deal with any appeal. Not a governor here either, just a resident & parent. I have spoken at length with R39 about the meetings and I did not hold any punches. Right now a meeting would not achieve anything apart from fuel the cat fights. A lot of people are cross that it has got this far and are wanting to back track a little to the stage when R39 was trying to gauge support and prove to the government that there was a demand. In all honesty what as a neutral-ish party do you think R39 could say about that at this stage? There are lot of people that just want to understand the real impact of the school on the places they live, I get that and I have questions about roads, school transport, safety, child safeguarding, environmental impact etc at the proposed site but until the formal planning starts for that and the designs & plans are ready what can they say? For all of you who are really against the school what could R39 say to change your minds? What would you get out of a public meeting if you have no intention of changing your mind? Is it better to have a public meeting where they have to say "I don't know that yet" all the time just for the sake of a meeting? Or would that not frustrate people even more? Is there anything they can say to allay the fears of local schools about funding? If the funding agreement is approved what then? I assume that those against it just want R39 to back down & go away? Is that a realistic expectation that this stage? We are not really achieving anything arguing on here but I felt that there was just so much negativity and hate on social media and I wanted to try and balance things a little.

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    Henrietta

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Missed one of your questions, I believe that R39 proposed to work with the other local schools to improve the whole area. I have never said the schools are substandard, I have no personal problem with the schools other than there is no choice for someone in this area on a low income other than Bideford. I have asked plenty of people what they think those parents should do & not one has answered me, why is that? Bideford is the largest of the schools and it is improving and hopefully will be rated good or outstanding once the Ofsted has been published but it is not suitable for some children and there is the problem. The opposition has hurled so much hateful abuse at parents and anyone that dares to support the school yet there seems to be absolutely no come back for them? I have not once seen anyone who is neutral pull them up on it. I know there are huge issues with communication and I agree with that wholeheartedly. There is so much going on that is really underhanded but we won't stoop to exposing it because of the children that have to go there in September and the parents that have to interact with other schools. Please tell me what you think those of us who believe the school is a positive thing can do to win people over or should that be R39's job?

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    Henrietta

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • For some reason I am having problems posting today on both articles so hopefully this will get through. Many people have said that we have a choice in this area of 4 schools. That is true if you are in a position to pay for transport to the school out of your designated area or if you are eligible for free school meals and the school of choice is within 2-6 miles. Other than that if you live in the designated area of Bideford college that is your only choice if you are on a low income. That is not choice for some families. I am fortunately that when the time comes I can afford to pay for transport out of area should I need to or the send my child to The Small School. Bideford is improving and hopefully the Ofsted report from last week will be a reflection of the money invested in it. However it is a very large school and does not suit a lot of children. I know schools will be affected if R39 opens but it will encourage improvement in those existing schools and not complacency if they have to actually fight for the funding and not sit back because they know there is not much choice. Majority of the parents did not seek to start a school, we were offered it but apparently we are not allowed to take up that offer. I will say again that enough people supported the school initially to get it this far why didn't all these people stop it then instead of wasting so much time, money and upsetting the children that are looking forward to this school opening. You all sat back and waited to see what would happen and now refuse to take even the tiniest bit of responsibility for the hurt that is being caused. I don't mind being called selfish,I have broad shoulders and whatever happens I will be able to make the right choice for my child not everyone can do that.

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    Henrietta

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Speaking from the proverbial fence,maybe the Route 39 governors would be prepared to hold an open meeting, in an (I would imagine) large room to address the fears,questions,issues that people have. That might be a way forward? I understand from comments on Facebook that when this has been mooted before but they declined on the grounds of 'no new information' or they felt uneasy at the behaviour of some attendees?! They can always have a few bouncers in case there is trouble but the more they do not respond personally but use supporters(unless Henrietta,Poppy and co are actually governors) I would imagine things will remain at status quo and really the discussion on here will merely entertain those who like a good cat fight!

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    Sid

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Sid, I have apologised and have asked them to remove it as I agree it was an over reaction not that I expect you will believe that. I have had a lot of very nasty things levelled at me as a potential parent and not one person has ever apologised for how it might make me, other parents or R39 (who are actually decent people) feel. As supporters of the school we have taken a lot of abuse and been publicly vilified for something that we thought was a good thing. Were we expected to simply not respond to accusations of selfishness, arrogance and bringing up our children to be the same? A lot of parents & their children have been really upset by the hate directed at us and at R39. Of course people are going to react negatively when faced with that and particularly when their children have to experience it. What do you suggest we do? Parents and supportive residents are not being questioned they are being grilled and accused and the only answer anyone wants to hear is that we change our minds and no longer support the school. I have answered your questions politely and you have not responded to any of mine except to jump on one mistake that I made which I agree with. To be honest I assumed you would be on that side of the fence and if one comment by me pushed you then your toe was already touching down in opposition land. There will never be anything that supporters or the school will say to convince people to give the school and the children a chance.

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    Henrietta

    Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Firstly I am looking forward to the grand announcement of the newsame site based on the cryptic comments on Facebook from parents!! ( bit of the we know something you don't commuting such is life!)Whilst enjoying the sun yesterday the topic of the school arose with friends who were down visiting and they raised points I would welcome feedback on if possible. re the stage not age concept. Whilst they could see a parent glowing with pride at the fact their 11 yr old was working with 14 yr olds how about the pupil who struggles and is 15 but working with the 12 yr olds.? Or are we wrong in what this means? Also what happens IF the school opens, is outstanding and families flock to move into the area(which supporters have used as a justification as a way of bringing life shops into the villages,forget petrol prices for getting anywhere nowadays)and it is oversubscribed . Some of the original supporters may end up just that bit too far away as it is nearest first and can you imagine the bad feeling?(has happened in their area in the East) They also thought that whilst parents are actively involved in schools when pupils as are younger you have to let them have a bit of experience without parents being totally involved and knowing everything in secondary?Let them come home and grunt 'nothing' when asked what they did because later they will tell you in their own time.

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    Sid

    Sunday, May 19, 2013

  • Sid, sounds as though you like your cats?! I can assure you I am not a governor and they are all very busy at the moment!

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    Poppy

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Either there IS or there IS NOT a need for additional school pupil capacity for secondary-age children in this part of North Devon. If there ISN'T, then this school is unjustifiable and a waste of public money. There is only one other justification for a new school that I can think of, and that is if the current providers are failing our children. As a concerned parent of a child who will need to make this choice in the near future, I have investigated the 4 schools that could potentially provide a place. I would - in complete honestly - be happy to send my child to any of them. Supporters of Route 39 bleat "Non of the current schools are 'outstanding'!" and go on to make the completely unprovable claim that their new school WILL be. Two things immediately strike me about that claim - the first is that Route 39's track record with openness and honesty has been woefully dismal so far, so their claim of being able to instantly achieve an Ofsted Outstanding award should be taken with the required pinch of salt. Further, if this new school does still go ahead and ultimately manages to fill part of its quota of pupils, then this will DIRECTLY affect the funding to our existing schools to the tune of hundreds of thousands - possibly millions - of pounds in lost revenue. We are very fortunate in this area to have such good schooling for our children - put your energy into making THESE schools continue on their upward trend towards 'outstanding'. If, instead, you remove £millions from them, then we could very well see a self-fulfilling prophesy from Route 39 as non of them approach anywhere near full capacity, lose huge funds, and are therefore held back from becoming 'outstanding'. The fevered supporters of Route 39 have swallowed their glossy propaganda hook, line and sinker.

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    Chippy

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • I agree Chippy, in fact, i believe many of the local head teachers did not take initial interest purely because the proposal was so ridiculous that no sensible DoE would look twice, but that's Gove for you. He was blasted this week for building free schools in the wrong place, when London actually has shortages. Looks like the NAHT passed on their feelings in force anyway. My worry is like yours, too much has already gone the way it shouldn't have, I hope democracy wins over political agenda.

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    Ben

    Sunday, May 19, 2013

  • Henrietta I actually do think there would be mileage in the meeting.From experience by not being given a public chance to question,in a civilised way,the people who propose changes ,then tensions rise and things become out of hand. No they will probably not convert some people but courtesy and manners would prevail in the action of listening which goes a long way in my book. Hiding behind saying ' there is no new info so no meeting' is not a good place to be. I have just looked through all 3 social media groups on one site and there are some quite strong comments against other schools from supporters which although not from Route 39 personally will reflect on them anyway unfortunately. One of the criteria of a free school application is proof of liaison with other local schools which those supporters are decrying.

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    Sid

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • Thanks Henrietta, this figure has now been changed and there will be a correction going in next week's paper.

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    SarahH

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • Thank you for your essay Ben, I am completely baffled....... You say that Ofsted reports are steeped in loopholes and flawed. Yet, I have experience with a Pre-School and a Primary School who have worked really hard to earn their 'good' or 'outstanding' grades and they are VERY proud of them. You wouldn't expect more from a 2 star hotel because someone said the grading systems are flawed? I know when I speak on behalf of myself as a parent that it's not just because of the Ofsted rating that I feel the way I do. There really are many other reasons why I am taking up the offer for an alternative for my children. The worrying thing about all the disputes the 'pro's' and the 'no's' have is ALL the children that are caught in the crossfire. Many of them are stressed with Stats this week, many are also extremely apprehensive about starting secondary education, without all the negativity. But us parents haven't been brainwashed by marketing..... 'We walk with our feet, we work with our hands, we speak with our minds'

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    Poppy

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • Chippy, we do all have minds of our own, perhaps this is why we have the need for a alternative, because we don't swallow what we are told about local schools 'hook, line and sinker'!

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    Poppy

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  • Oh just read the 'government and council will decide'.Is that an indication that Poppy and Henrietta have insider knowledge that a higher power will be brought in?

    Report this comment

    Sid

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

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