Government withdraw funding for free school before its even begun

Bradford free school One In A Million has funding cut

Parents had expected the school to open its doors to pupils on 3 September

28 August 2012 Last updated at 12:30

A free school in Bradford has had its government funding withdrawn a week before it was due to open after it failed to attract enough pupils.

The charity-run One In A Million Secondary School, built on the grounds of Bradford City Football Club, was set to open on 3 September.

It had a target of an initial intake of 50 pupils, but had only enrolled 30.

The Department for Education has asked it to defer opening until 2013. Parents said the move was a “devastating blow”.

One In A Million’s co-founder Wayne Jacobs said: “We are completely baffled and stunned at this decision by the DfE and absolutely devastated for the parents, children and staff of the One in a Million Free School.”

The charity said it had been assured by the DfE in June that its funding was “all on track for sign-off” by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

However, it was told last Friday that the DfE had decided to recommend the funding was not approved.

Free schools are run by faith organisations, parents’ groups or charities. They are independent of local authority control and funded by central government.
‘Difficult task’

The Department for Education (DfE) said: “Before any new schools open their doors, we have to be sure that all the conditions we set have been met.

“Setting up a free school is a difficult task and we thank One In A Million for all their hard work. We still hope that One in a Million will open in 2013.”

An online petition has been set up by parents who have been left with less than seven days to find alternative schools for their children.

Bradford Council said all 30 children would be found local authority school places.

Parent Janet East, who launched the petition on a social networking site, said: “This news that the government has decided not to go ahead with funding this great school has come as an enormous devastating blow.

“We would like to show the government how disgusted we all are with the decision not to fund at such a late stage in the academic year, when it is not possible now to look at alternative schools, get new uniform, sort out transport and child care.

“My son James and others are expecting to be starting school [on Monday]. James has additional needs and there is not another school in this area that is suited to James’ needs.”

Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg said: “Pulling the plug on a school just a few days before it was due to open will leave parents angry and confused as they scramble to find a school place.”

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