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Will lessons be learned over failure?
It may come as a surprise to many readers that the number of pupils required to make a viable school is as low as 50, especially as many schools in rural areas with larger school rolls have been closed down over the years.
Yet that is apparently the case, as has come to light with the situation regarding the One In a Million Free School in Bradford which has been told it cannot open as planned next week because it has not hit the quota by attracting 30 pupils.
Whatever the pros and cons of the whole free school debate, it does seem very late in the day for the Department for Education to pull the rug out from under the One in a Million school.
The DfE might not consider 30 enough, but that is 30 families who are now – with only a week or so to go before schools start to come back – without a school place for their child.
If, as One In A Million says, they believe they had fully met all the conditions imposed upon them to make them a viable school ready for opening in September, the DfE has left it far too late to pull the plug and leave these children without a school place, even given the fact that Bradford Council will of course do all it can to get them into schools in time for the new term.
If this can happen so close to the school’s planned opening, perhaps the DfE needs to go back to the drawing board with the whole free school programme. Whether you agree with free schools or not, these children’s education and futures should not be used as a political football.