NOW that the Dental Board site will become redundant as employees are relocated elsewhere, I hope that permission for a free school (as featured in last week’s edition) to be set up in the town, using the vacant site, or elsewhere will be rejected.
Eastbourne already has a choice of six good comprehensive schools and a sixth form college which produce very good results.
Just because sponsors of this notional free school aren’t happy with the existing provision doesn’t mean taxpayers’ money should be diverted from them to finance a niche school which meets their criteria.
In places like Bristol and Beccles (Suffolk) where free schools are already in operation, nearby comprehensives have seen their roll calls for year 7 pupils drop.
This means their funding has fallen, resulting in the curriculum becoming more restricted as fewer subjects are taught.
If permission for a free school goes ahead here, there’s no reason to think that resources won’t be drawn away from existing comprehensives as these schools will have to compete for a limited number of pupils, with the excellent Cavendish and Ratton schools likely to feel the adverse effects most, as they lie in the same catchment area as the proposed free school.
Hopefully, the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, will see that there is no demographic need for a new school as there are already the optimum number of secondary schools in the Eastbourne area to meet pupil demand, and will turn the application down.
Our local MP should also make his feelings known that a free school will have a negative impact and be detrimental to the town.