Secretary of State for education meets Route 39 governors
11:58 28 June 2013
MP Michael Gove met with the team behind Route 39 to hear how the volunteers had found the process of setting up North Devon’s first free school.
THE Secretary of State for Education has praised the work of the parents and governors behind North Devon’s first free school.
Visiting the principal and governors of the Route 39 Academy this morning (Friday) at the school’s office in Atlantic Village, Bideford, MP Michael Gove said it would be ‘wonderful’ for children to have more choice.
Mr Gove also said he hoped the other schools in the area, some of whom have objected to the free school, would work with Route 39.
“Rather than regarding Route 39 as competition it’s a new member of the team,” said Mr Gove.
“These people are heroines and heroes; they are volunteers who have given their time without any prospect of reward.
“I think it’s wonderful they have managed to secure so much support; it’s going to be wonderful for children because they have more choice.”
During the meeting Mr Gove heard about the obstacles and successes in the run up to the school’s proposed opening in September.
In May, plans to temporarily house Route 39 at the Milky Way Adventure Park were turned down by Torridge District Council.
But within a matter of weeks, the school managed to secure the former Clovelly Primary School to open in September.
He also talked about the national fair funding formula announced on Wednesday as part of the spending review.
Chancellor George Osborne announced the current school funding system, put in place in 2005, would be updated to allocate fairer funding nationwide for schools.
The formula will see Devon, which is one of the lowest funded areas in the country, receive an increase in funding for school pupils.
“Devon is going to benefit from the changes,” said Mr Gove.
“It is not money alone – schools in South and North Devon have got the same amount of money but schools in the south of county are doing much better.
“It’s about learning from other schools.
“This is a beautiful part of the country and an attractive place to live.
“Wages are low and property prices have been driven up by second home owners.
“How do you make sure children and young people can look outwards and can be confident about their future?”
As he left the meeting this morning, Mr Gove wished the school the best of luck for its September opening and said he hoped to visit once it was up and running.
Speaking after the meeting, principal Joss Glossop said she felt the visit from Mr Gove had given the school team a big boost.
“We have all worked so hard and there are times where it’s really quite hard going,” she said.
“There is so much to do and we know we need to get this right for a whole host of reasons.
“The main one is these children deserve a fantastic education.”
After meeting Route 39, Mr Gove met with Geoffrey Cox, the MP for Torridge and West Devon, for a tour of Bideford College.
To see more photos from Mr Gove’s visit, click the gallery on the right hand side of the page.