Free schools plan opposed

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TWO more free schools could open soon in South Yorkshire – and would be run by a group already planning to open an academy in the Dearne Valley.

Yorkshire Nationwide Schools’ sister company Niche is aiming to open its Three Valleys Academy at Manvers, Rotherham, in September 2012.

Now YNS has put in applications for two further campuses, at Dinnington and Maltby, to open the following year.

Four free schools are now planned for the borough, with another organisation hoping to open Rotherham Central School in the town centre.

The plans are opposed by Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster councils, who say there is no need for new schools.

A Rotherham Council spokesman said 97 per cent of pupils already secured places at their first choice school.

“Even losing just 20 students per year group would mean a loss of £100,000 for a school,” he added.

The Maltby and Dinnington schools would both take in pupils aged from four to 18.

The schools, on sites to be identified, would be the size of large secondaries, with 1,380 pupils.

But Rotherham NUT officer John Dalton said: “Free schools actually take money away from existing schools.”

YNS chief executive John Morahan said: “The benefits of free schools will include smaller class sizes, stronger discipline, higher standards of achievement and greater parental choice.”

Academies and free schools are publicly funded but operate outside local government control, and are sometimes set up by parents, charities, or religious groups.