When I joined the Ixworth & Stanton Free School Group almost a year ago, I had no idea how arduous the journey might be. It is fair to say the experience has been quite a rollercoaster ride.
We set out to create a free school at Ixworth for a number of reasons:
1 Fill the gap left by the county council’s inability to fund a second school for the pyramid as part of SOR.
2 Ensure our immediate local community had the benefit of an 11-16 school in order to attract businesses and new families to our part of Suffolk
3 To meet the desire of a large number of parents who wanted to see a traditional curriculum taught in a smaller school, with a real personal feel to it.
We then set about a preliminary consultation with local parents and were delighted to receive overwhelming support, which was well publicised at the time. The SOR consultation period then started, which will result in the eventual closure of our three middle schools, a change of age range in the primaries (to include Years 5 & 6) and at Thurston to add Years 7 & 8. At this time we were asked to believe that the Thurston Partnership’s motivations were ‘purely to raise standards in our part of Suffolk’. It was at this point I started to think the real objectives of the headteachers and individuals central to the Thurston Partnership were not at all aligned with parents like me who purely wanted to safeguard our children’s educational future.
What the partnership has forgotten is that over half of the respondents to the question in the consultation which asked ‘Would you support a free school at Ixworth or Stanton?’ said YES. Their complete lack of respect for the views of parents since this has been at best disappointing. Unfortunately, Suffolk County Council has yielded the responsibility for education in this pyramid to the Thurston Partnership. This is not wholesome for our children. The transport scaremongering, blaming the free school group for their failure to meet their consultation promises on future jobs, their ‘unofficial’ membership of anti-free school groups, their totally unsatisfactory appointment of a partnership co-ordinator and the list goes on.
Due to the fact the primary schools have declined our requests to send parents updates about the plans for the free school, I would urge all those interested to register their interest at www.ixworthfreeschool.org when it goes live shortly.
When we approached and ultimately selected the Seckford Foundation as our partner to provide exactly the type of education our parents want, we thought long and hard about the decision. I am as certain about their qualifications and integrity now as I was then. In all my extensive dealings with them, I have absolutely no doubt that they want the same for the Ixworth Free School as we do – an outstanding opportunity to build a new school where children will thrive academically and as young people.
When the school opens in 2014, it will have all been worth it – the alternative to no free school at Ixworth is no alternative at all. Until then, our parent group will keep you informed of the facts regarding the proposed school and please bear in mind we are only motivated by one thing – an opportunity for a better outcome for our children.
Ixworth & Stanton Free School Group.