What is a free school?
Free schools are independent, state-funded schools. They have the same legal status as academies.
Are free schools able to make a profit?
No. Free schools can only be set up and run on a not-for-profit basis by a charitable Trust. The school will be run by the Principal and their leadership team and they will be answerable to a Board of Governors.
When will the school open?
We are now planning to open in September 2021, however, a provisional opening date will be confirmed by the Department for Education once a suitable site has been secured.
Where will the school be situated?
The school plans to open in the parish of Yardley Wood within the Billesley Ward of Birmingham, although the site has not yet been confirmed. Now that the school has been approved to the pre-opening phase by the Department for Education, one of the first tasks of the Education & Skills Funding Agency is to secure a suitable site for our school. As stipulated by the ESFA, any potential sites will remain undisclosed until secured.
Why are you proposing to open with only Year 7 classes?
Our proposed intake reflects where demand for places has been identified. When starting a new school we believe that it is really important to nurture the first year and establish the culture of the new school. Our first Year 7 classes will also be our first classes to take GCSEs and to be able to work with them exclusively for their first year will establish solid foundations for their success.
Are free schools selective?
No. All free schools have to follow the Admissions Code in the same way as all state-funded schools and our inclusive admissions policy will at all times be open, transparent and fair. We will be working closely with colleagues at the Department for Education and at the Local Authority throughout the admissions process. Children of all abilities, from all backgrounds, of all faiths and none, will be welcome to apply.
If the school opens, will that mean less money for the other schools in the area?
No. Funding for free schools will be equivalent to the funding of maintained schools and academies in the same Local Authority area. The opening of a free school does not mean that the overall funding available in an area goes down. However, the total funding an individual school receives will depend on the number of pupils attending.
Will Christ Church C of E Secondary Academy be inspected by Ofsted?
Yes. All free schools are subject to inspection in the same way as other academy category schools. The school is also inspected by Ofsted prior to opening and will be subject to termly visits from the Department for Education during its first year.
Have you chosen a Principal for Christ Church C of E Secondary Academy?
No. We will be advertising this position nationally to attract the best candidates.
How will the school be accountable?
The school will be run by a Board of Governors who will be accountable to the charitable Trust which oversees the school. In addition, the school will be accountable to the Secretary of State for Education through the terms of its Funding Agreement.
Why have we not consulted the public to date on the plans to open a new school in Yardley Wood?
The Birmingham Diocesan Academies Trust undertook an initial consultation with residents and key stakeholders regarding the proposal for a new free secondary school in Yardley Wood in 2016 prior to them making an application for the school. To date, the exact location of the proposed school has not been finalised or approved. The proposals for the school are subject to planning permission being granted and a planning application is not due to be submitted until later this year / beginning of next year which is when the public will have opportunity to make their views known through the formal planning process.
Why have you not shared the proposals with the public sooner?
As the proposals have been in the early stages we have been unable to share the proposal details to date. The early stages have included undertaking a feasibility study which was undertaken to establish whether a school would be viable on the playing fields site with consideration to the impact of the school and associated mitigation prior to sharing the draft proposals.
When are you going to consult the local communities?
We place a great importance on consulting local communities so that they have the opportunity to express their views whether they will support or object to a school proposal. In addition to the information exhibitions on 28th August and 6th September 2018, there will also be another public engagement event with the local community prior to the submission of a formal planning application later this year / beginning of next year.
There is a statutory duty on the local authority, as prescribed in the 2015 Development Management Procedure Order, to consult local communities prior to determination of the application. The trust proposing to set up a free school have a statutory duty under the Academies Act 2010 to consult local people and key stakeholders. The trust will undertake this as part of its plans for opening.
Why are we proposing the Yardley Wood site for the school?
A number of alternative sites were considered for the school. The alternative identified sites fell outside of the Parish boundary and the only suitable site identified within the Parish area is the Yardley Wood site. The Yardley Wood site also supports Birmingham City Council’s basic need criteria for school places.
Why has this site been selected?
There is a need for additional secondary school places and a school located in Yardley Wood will address the shortage of secondary places from 2021 onwards, not only in the Selly Oak planning area but also the neighbouring Hall Green planning area.
The site is also designated for education use by Birmingham City Council and offers the opportunity to make better use of the playing fields
Why was the Baverstock site not used?
A school in Yardley Wood will address the shortage of secondary places from 2021 onwards, not only in the Selly Oak planning area but also the neighbouring Hall Green planning area.
Why was the Baverstock school closed at the same time as the Government approved a new school?
The Trust were not involved in the decision to close Baverstock, therefore any questions relating to this need to be referred to the Department of Education.
Why are you building a school on the playing fields?
We appreciate the playing fields are a valuable community asset, which is designated for use by local primary and secondary schools and the local football club. Birmingham City Council have confirmed that this asset is significantly underutilised.
What about the loss of community access to the playing fields?
Birmingham City Council have advised this area is not public open space and that anyone accessing the playing fields without their agreement are trespassing. Over the years Birmingham City Council have erected signs and locked the gates, but these have been removed a number of times.
Why is the Diocese (Church) land not being used?
The land that the Church already owns has been considered and is not the preferred location as it is adjacent to the canal, heavily vegetated land and would affect trees with a significant importance in terms of landscaping and ecological value. The preliminary surveys and initial advice from the Birmingham City Council officers have concluded that there would be a greater environmental impact in developing this land rather than the playing fields.
What about the impact on Maypole Football Club?
Maypole FC will be able to continue using the site and enhanced facilities, including improved grass pitches, a 3G pitch, and access to the school parking and changing facilities.
The local roads are already congested and this will make it worse?
We are assessing the impact on the local traffic and will try to reduce the impact by creating some drop off facilities within the school grounds and create a travel plan to help reduce the impact, including considering staggered school start and finish times and encouraging car sharing. Whilst we recognise the school will generate additional traffic, having a local school for local pupils should reduce the overall trips on the road network. We will be listening to your concerns and ideas and consider these when developing the final proposal.
What about the loss of privacy and visual impact the school will have on properties adjacent to the playing fields?
Through the design process, we will carefully consider the impact and where viable try to minimise the effect. The design will also need to comply with any local planning requirements, including minimum distances from existing residential property.
What will the Diocese (Church) land be used for?
The Diocese are willing to transfer the church land to a suitable organisation for community use.
What about the current anti-social behaviour the site attracts?
We are aware that the site has attracted anti-social behaviour, including damage to the playing fields and we believe a school located on the site will significantly reduce the anti-social behaviour.
How can I be kept updated with the school’s progress?
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