School will close despite plea from MP

jpco-18-12-13 Discovery New School (Pic by Jon Rigby)
jpco-18-12-13 Discovery New School (Pic by Jon Rigby)

The Department for Education has said it stands by its decision to close a Crawley school in special measures following a meeting with the schools minister.

Discovery New School, in Broadfield, was put into special measures in May and after it failed to make sufficient improvement, the Department for Education said in December that it would pull its funding from the school, forcing its closure on April 4.

On Tuesday (January 14) chair of governors Chris Cook, finance governor Mark Beard and chief executive of the Montessori St Nicholas Charity Phillip Bujak met the schools minister John Nash with Crawley MP Henry Smith to present their case for extending support to the school.

Among their reasons for giving the school extra time was that the final inspection by Ofsted was only 12 days after the new headteacher Penny Crocker was appointed.

They felt she had not been given enough time to show significant improvement.

Mr Cook said: “We had a fair hearing. We were not given a response at the meeting and must wait to hear what Lord Nash has concluded from our conversations.

“I’d like to thank Henry Smith MP for his support and Lord Nash for his time. It is appreciated.”

However a spokesman for the DfE said, although Lord Nash would consider the points they raised, his decision to close the school was final and the funding will be withdrawn at the end of the spring term.

He added: “We are working with West Sussex County Council to ensure the children affected have suitable alternatives in place and their transition is as smooth as possible.

“The vast majority of free schools are performing well with three-quarters rated good or outstanding. But we will not hesitate to intervene and take swift action if children are being denied the education they deserve. This applies to every school.

“Of course, as the Secretary of State made clear in oral questions last week, any application for a new free school would be considered in the normal way.”