Dear Parents and Supporters,
It is with utter disappointment we have to you to advise that Middlemore Free School Bid application will not be going ahead.
Middlemore Residents Association have campaigned tirelessly for a primary school over the last two years and have been ‘fighting your corner’ to try to secure a school which we were all led to believe would be sited on Middlemore, however it seems that now there are no other options left.
The story so far ….
Initially we tried to secure the land on Site 10, which was unsuccessful. However, during talks and ongoing negotiations with Daventry District Council, and representatives from Northampton County Council, MRA were encouraged to approach Free School providers as County Council said there was no funding available to build a school. Daventry District council then earmarked site 8E off Claydon Road for the school.
We have had two sponsors involved on our journey, which were recommended by Chris Heaton-Harris: –
E-ACT – their application was submitted in January 2013 and was supported by Local Councillor Chris Long, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Daventry Town Council, Daventry District Council and Northampton County Council. It later materialized that E-ACT had been issued with a Financial Notice to Improve in March 2013, which came into the public domain at the end of April 2013. Because of this it was very unlikely that E-ACT would be allowed to support any new bids until they had put actions in place to improve their financial reporting. Our bid was unanimously judged to be strong, however with E-ACT on board it would ultimately fail if submitted.
DRET – Whilst not wanting to ‘give up’ MRA sourced a new sponsor and after taking advice DRET were recommended as being our best hope of re-igniting our bid once again. We worked with DRET for a number of months pulling our bid together only to be advised at the end of January 2014 that they were ‘stepping away’ from the project as they have been awarded several of the schools that they had previously proposed and the DfE have now also asked them to focus on supporting existing schools who are facing difficulties. Given the current political climate with regards to Free Schools, we believe that other sponsors have been asked to focus on the same existing provision.
MRA have also considered the proposal of setting up a trust and submitting a bid in May this year without a sponsor. However, the likelihood of us being successful is so slim and the work required to complete the bid is so time consuming (100+ hours, 1000’s of questionnaires/ surveys / data gathering etc.) along with the need for being qualified within the teaching environment to even make the bid look half acceptable to the DfE means that this is not an option for us. As a small association we simply do not have the manpower, knowledge or resources to take on such a mammoth task and responsibility with no certain outcome.
So what is next?
Well the fight for a free school is probably over; DDC only provided assurances to reserve the land at site 8e for this current application bid. In the minutes of the Daventry District Council Strategy Group meeting held 13th February 2013 it states that the land is to be disposed of 12 months from that date. We therefore expect the land to be allocated for yet further housing in due course.
Monksmoor estate – DDC are submitting a bid for a primary school this summer. The plan means that DDC will build it using their own money (which seemingly they are unwilling to invest on Middlemore)_and get the monies from the developers as homes are sold on the estate.
Yet again we say if there is funding to build a school on Monksmoor, why not build one on Middlemore? The land and infrastructure is already in place and there are many parents already living here needing a local school for their children, demand for places is at an all-time high and how much longer can this go on for?
With the further housing planned for Middlemore (including Site 8e) and other parcels left untouched nearer to the Industrial Estate this problem will only exasperate the situation in the future. Clearly we have identified the problem of inadequate primary school places and have done the best we can, brought this to the attention of the local authorities, whilst also investing in trying to bring about a solution. However without their investment and political will we are facing an uphill battle, which we cannot win despite best efforts
And finally …. We would like to say a HUGE thank you to all that have been involved in Middlemore’s campaign for a school over the last 24 months – be it in the form of printing flyers, buying banners, attending meetings, emailing MP’s/Councilors, attending planning meetings or just answering all our questionnaires regarding children in your households.
Middlemore Residents Association has committed to this campaign throughout and ultimately it is down to County Council and Government policies that the residents of Middlemore have been let down.
We will continue to monitor the website and Facebook for any other concerns/issues around the estate that you may have.
IF YOU WISH TO VOICE ANY COMMENTS PLEASE CONTACT BOTH: –
Chris Heaton-Harris MP for Daventry firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Catherine Boardman who is Northamptonshire Cabinet Member for Minister for Children, Families and Education email@example.com
Middlemore Residents Association.