Applications for eight secondary free schools received for Leicester

Janet Downs's picture

Approval risks over-capacity after 2023/24

Applications to set up eight secondary/all-through free schools in Leicester have been received, the Department for Education (DfE) has announced.  

If all eight open, it would bring the number of free secondary schools in Leicester to eleven.  Avanti Fields, an all-through school with a Hindu ethos, opened this September on a temporary site.    Castle Mead Academy and  Leicester Metropolitan Academy  are in the pipeline.

In November 2016, Leicester City Council identified a need for a ‘whole new secondary school’ with capacity for 1000 to 1,200 pupils to be built every year from 2018 to 2021.  One, Avanti Fields, has opened; Castle Mead plans to open in 2019 and Leicester Metropolitan hopes to open in August 2021. 

Although fourteen of Leicester’s existing secondary schools are full, even over-capacity,  four schoolshave 1000 surplus places between them.  The unfilled places together with one new secondary school would surely be enough to satisfy the need for extra secondary school places in Leicester by 2021.

But the DfE has received applications for eight schools with secondary provision.  This risks a future over-capacity of secondary places.  

 In 2015, Leicester council told the Office of the Schools Adjudicator the number of Reception age pupils in Leicester was projected to peak in 2016/17.  This bulge will reach year 7 in 2023/24.  After that time, numbers would fall if the projections are correct. 

It appears, then, there’s an urgent need for secondary places in Leicester up to 2023/24.  Then the need for places will drop.

But if the eight applications are approved instead of the one that's needed,   existing schools could be at risk.

Five, possibly six, will be faith based

Five of the proposed schools are faith-based: one Hindu, two Sikh and two Muslim.  One, Avanti Green, is designated as no faith but iits name suggests it would be run by the Avanti trust which operates existing Hindu schools in London and Leicester.

Leicester has a reputation of being ‘a city of diversity’.      If all eight are approved, there’s a danger of increased segregation which could put Leicester’s harmony at risk.  The DfE should bear this in mind before rubber-stamping applications.   Unfortunately, the desire to open free schools and boast about their increasing number suggests the DfE will put possible negative effects to one side.


NOTES:  The eight applications are:

Avanti Green, all-through, no faith designation

Avanti Leicester, all-through, designated Hindu

Beauchamp City Free School, secondary, no faith designation

Brook Mead Academy, secondary, no faith designation

Falcons Academy, secondary, designated Sikhism

The Khalsa Academy, secondary, designated Sikhism

Tree Academy Boys, secondary, designated Islam

Tree Academy Girls, secondary, designated Islam

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Julessn's picture
Tue, 13/11/2018 - 08:03

Let’s hope the Khalsa outfit is in no way connected to the independent school with a similar name in Harrow which has just had another inspection and is still failing the kids it claims to teach.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 13/11/2018 - 09:04

Julessn - Khalsa College London is run by a company of the same name.   The academy trust proposing the Leicester free school is The Khalsa Academies Trust.  There appears to be no connection between them.

The Khalsa Academies Trust runs three Sikh free schools: Khalsa Secondary Academy, Ofsted Good; The British Sikh School, Ofsted Good, and Atam Academy which hasn't been inspected yet.

Parents in Coventry are lobbying for an inadequate free school, Seva School, to be transferred from Sevak Education Trust to Khalsa Academies Trust.  The DfE prefers the school to be transferred to Nishkam Academies Trust but the parents say Nishkam doesn't have the same ethos as Khalsa Academies Trust.  You can read about it here.

Julessn's picture
Tue, 13/11/2018 - 09:18

Thanks Janet. A small sigh of relief that there's no direct connection - but only small.
The Nishkam in west London is way undersubscribed with only 50 kids in each year group. on average. There should be 70.
Nice to get an Outstanding rating when you have the massive front loading money free schools had, and only two third of the kids.

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