Route 39 Academy could become part of the same multi-academy trust (MAT) as Bideford College.

North Devon’s first free school was placed into special measures by Ofsted in July, and could now become part of Launceston College MAT.

It would join Launceston College, Bideford College, Launceston College Primary and Egloskerry Prmary School.

Due diligence is being carried out by the trust and the Department for Education to determine if the partnership will go ahead.

In the meantime, a letter to Route 39 parents from Richard Bence, chair of govenors, said Launceston College was already providing support.

Inside the new school building at Route 39 Academy.Inside the new school building at Route 39 Academy.

Lynsey Slater, Launceston College’s deputy principal, has been proposed as the new, permanent principal for Route 39.

This follows the departure of Jordan Kelly in November.

In his letter, Mr Bence said the Lynsey’s appointment would provide stability, and would be the ‘most consistent and effective approach to rapid improvement’.

He said Launceston College shared Route 39’s central beliefs and the partnership could open up new opportunities for pupils.

“Governors feel this is the right way forward and will keep parents appraised of progress,” he added.

Jack Jackson, executive principal of Launceston College, quashed rumours that Route 39 would be merging with Bideford College.

He told the Gazette: “Route 39 was placed in special measures by Ofsted in June last year and the Regional Schools Commissioner has now identified the Launceston College MAT as the preferred sponsor for Route 39.

“We are currently carrying out a process of due diligence and we expect to complete this exercise by May; we currently have no specific plans to change any particular aspect of the school, our responsibility would be to ensure that the students at the school are provided with the education which they deserve.”

Work on the controversial new school building at Steart Farm is on track for completion for the new school year.

Last week, the Department for Education answered a written question about Route 39 Academy, asked by Angela Raynor, Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

Her question was ‘to ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the cost to the public purse was of the capital funding his department provided for the Route 39 free school in North Devon.’

Minister of State for Education Nick Gibb’s response was that the costs of the free school would not be published until it was completed, but he confirmed the Steart Farm site was purchased for £3million.

However, campaigners estimate the total of cost of the school to the public purse to be in the region of £36million.

The free school’s original application to the Department for Education was based on it having an intake of 100 pupils a year, which meant by the time the new building opened, there would be 500 pupils.

However, figures show there are currently only between 21 and 40 pupils per year group, with 43 expected to start in September.

This means by the time the school opens, there would only be 209 pupils in the brand new building, built to house up to 700.