Warning for Bradford parents as free school causes pupil places ‘chaos’

ONE of the first of the Government’s flagship free schools set to open this year is creating “chaos” in a Yorkshire city with fears that hundreds of parents could be left without a place for their child, education bosses have warned.

The Yorkshire Post can reveal that the King’s Science Academy, in Bradford, is expected to get the go-ahead from Ministers with £10m funding.

However, parents who have chosen to send their child there could be forced to wait until the end of March to find out if they have a place – a month after the rest of the country’s state schools allocated places.

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The proposed school cannot award places until the Government has agreed to fund it and pupils have not yet sat entrance tests which will be used to ensure the academy takes on children of all abilities.

The Yorkshire Post has seen documents from Bradford Council which show the authority has voiced concern to the Department for Education about parents still not knowing whether their child is to be accepted.

The King’s Science Academy, being led by Bradford born teacher Sajid Hussain, plans to take on 140 11-year-olds this September but is said to have had three times as many applications.

Coun Ralph Berry, Bradford Council’s executive member for children and young people’s services, has voiced fears that hundreds of children could be left without a place if they have only applied to the King’s Science Academy and up to 140 children could be withdrawn from other state secondary schools if they have been offered places elsewhere.

He said: “This uncertainty is creating chaos in the system. If local Government conducted our affairs in this way central Government would send in the boot boys. If we are to have free schools can we at least set them responsibly. I do not blame the proposer of the school – he has been put in this position by the Government.

“If they had wanted to open these schools in September they should have acted more quickly. “What impact is this uncertainty having on these children who will not know where they will be going to secondary school in September until the end of this month when the rest of the country found out a few days ago.

“And will Bradford Council be compensated for the extra work which this will create for us?”

Mr Hussain said he hoped the King’s Science Academy would be able to award places to hit a Bradford Council deadline of March 18 and would definitely have made decisions on whom it was accepting by the end of the month.

He said all parents applying had been told to choose a council school as well as places at the free school could not be guaranteed.

The school is set to be based on the site of a former state school building in Lidget Green, Bradford.

• More on this story in Saturday’s Yorkshire Post