Pupil contact sparks anger

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Angry Doncaster teachers have accused the team behind a planned free school of approaching their pupils at school to try to poach them.

Headteachers claim the people behind a proposed free school for 16 to 19 year olds in the borough have been trying to gain support through by approaching teenagers while they are on their current school premises.

In a joint statement described as representing seven borough headteachers, released by Rebecca Staples of Danum Academy, they said: “The representatives have given very minimal information to 12 and 13-year-olds to take their names, addresses and an agreement the college will be their sixth form provision of choice, with a promise of £500 for the highest ability pupils.

“They have claimed, erroneously, to have the permission of the headteachers of schools. This has given rise to safeguarding concerns.”

Pauline Hagen, principal of New College Pontefract, which is behind the free school plan, defended her team, saying they have to speak to their target market.

She said: “The Government explicitly requires that we collect evidence of demand from the young people themselves.

“The best way to establish demand is to talk to students in school assemblies.

“Obviously, we aren’t able to do this because the schools are keen to keep their pupils and their sixth form viable.”

She denied her team told pupils they had headteacher’s permission to be outside schools, and said it was not needed as they were on a public highway.

She said headteachers were sent a letter in advance informing them of the proposal and their intention to contact pupils, and invited them to contact her, but only two replied.