Trio to fight free school

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THREE South Yorkshire councils have joined forces to formally oppose plans for a new ‘free school’ in the Dearne Valley - because of the negative impact they believe the development would have on other existing secondaries.

Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster councils have written to the Department for Education to object to the plan for the Three Valleys Academy, which hopes to open in September.

In a joint statement the three councils say they feel they have no option but to oppose the Three Valleys Academy proposal, as there is already sufficient capacity in schools to meet the requirements of local students.

A spokesman said: “This proposal is threatening the very future of some of our schools as taking away students has massive implications for funding.

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

“This is not just about finance, however, as losing students will inevitably lead to job losses among staff as well as a general decline in educational standards at those schools.

“We cannot see a need for this free school as drops in the numbers on roll in the area and a falling birth rate means there simply isn’t a need for new school places to be created without damaging the education that is already available.”

Supporters of the Three Valleys scheme argue that schools in the Dearne area have failed pupils.

They say that an alternative for parents is urgently needed.

Rotherham Council is also objecting to proposals for another free school to be based in the town centre.

Plans for that Rotherham school have yet to be submitted to the Department for Education.

A vote on a report to the Rotherham Council’s cabinet backed opposition to the Rotherham Central Free School proposal.

It argued that if the free school achieved its aim of having 500 pupils, around £2.5 million would be lost annually from the revenue for local schools at current funding rates.