Following the decision by the Secretary of State to accept the application for a new Burnley High School in September 2014, the Chapel St team, along with our community partners, have been working hard to ensure the successful implementation of the school.
Choosing the right school for your child is one of the most important, and sometimes difficult decisions, that any parent can make. Free Schools are established across the country where there is compelling evidence that parents want a different type of school to meet the needs of their children.
In Burnley, over 70% of parents surveyed reported that they would be interested in sending their child to Burnley High School and over 300 parents and children have now attended our open evenings. Since then we have been receiving applications from parents who are eager for their children to be among the founders of a new Burnley High School.
The proposal for Burnley High School followed hundreds of conversations with parents and carers who expressed a desire for a smaller secondary school with an inclusive Christian ethos, where every child has the support of a personal coach and engages in real life learning through community projects and enterprise.
In addition, our specialisms of science, technology, engineering and maths and emphasis on sustainability will equip children for the 21st Century.
Chapel St schools only employ qualified teachers, follow the national curriculum and are subject to Ofsted inspections. In addition, the trust inspects the school every term so that parents and governors have full confidence in the excellent education on offer. Elizabeth Haddock, the Executive Principal of Burnley High School, has an outstanding track record in the leadership of new academies and free schools and is an Ofsted inspector herself.
As with any school, Burnley High School will receive funding from the Government for every pupil at the school. By choosing to start the school with a single intake of Year 7 students, and then growing the school from there, Burnley High School is not taking money from existing schools but rather offering parents another option for one of the most important decisions they will ever take.
It is worth noting that currently 9% of Burnley children go to schools outside the town. By opening Burnley High School we hope that more children will go to secondary school in the town so that more Government money is spent on Burnley schools.
We recognise that it is unsettling not to know the precise location of the school at this stage. However, negotiations are under way and the Education Funding Agency, which is the Government’s specialist school site and building team, are making good progress. The site will be within the BB12 postcode and as soon as any arrangements are finalised we will make the details public. The school will have outstanding facilities and provide a 21st Century education to support the community’s needs and vision.
The pupils in our sister school in Atherton now enjoy a superb campus following £5m. investment in the refurbishment of a disused school. Along with our community partners, Chapel St looks forward to opening Burnley High School, welcoming children and families to the school and serving the community with distinction for many years to come.
Dr Russell Rook
CEO, Chapel St Community Schools Trust