We have been very pleased by the recent coverage in the press regarding our Harington proposal; we featured on the front cover of the local newspaper twice as well as appearing on BBC radio Leicester. An article in the Rutland Times can be accessed here. There are inevitably many questions regarding this proposal which our website and the prospectus will address in the next few weeks. It was good to see a letter in this weeks edition of the Rutland Times in support of the proposal which demonstrated just how well informed the people of Rutland are.
However, there were a number of comments made in the local press by the NUT teaching union (who are philosophically opposed to all free schools, not just Harington) which I think are are worth addressing:
– Harington will widen the choice of providers of 16+ education: in a competitive education market, Harington will provide a more academic range of courses and learning experiences which will serve the needs of students for whom the current local providers don’t necessarily cater. We believe that the Harington School offer will complement the existing providers and ensure that all students are well served by the range of local providers.
– The argument that there’s no demand for Harington is wrong: the significant number of students who have to travel for hours every day is strong enough evidence to suggest that local provision is not meeting their needs. Catmose carried out a full consultation and analysis in 2012, the summary of which can be read here: https://spwilliams13.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/post-16-consultation-responses/, an analysis of destination responses from 2012 can also be read here: https://spwilliams13.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/post16destination/ and results here: https://spwilliams13.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/post-16-performance-tables-2013/. These will be updated as they become available.
– Harrington will mean that Catmose College and Uppingham Community College will attract the highest quality teachers to teach at 11-16 and within Harington.
– Harrington will only employ well-qualified staff who have the skills and experience necessary to teach A-level courses to a very high standard.
We make no judgement regarding the quality of provision. I am however concerned, as are many in the College community about the large numbers of students who choose to travel to Melton, Stamford, Leicester, Grantham and Peterborough to attend post-16 and in particular those students who are wishing to gain the highest grades at A level (aiming for at least AAB) . We have tried to address these concern directly to the LA and to CBEC’s principal, Vicky Crosher, offering support in order to improve the situation; sadly we have had no response to this offer of help. We therefore feel there is no choice but to address these concerns directly by proposing a free school offering a particular set of courses and experiences which will complement existing providers but offer experiences that have proven so popular in independent schools locally.
The Harington provision is not a criticism of any of the local providers but a response to a need that is clearly identified by national performance data in respect of outcomes for Rutland children. I have uploaded an analysis prepared by the government for Rutland LA use which can be accessed here: Rutland Post 16 Performance 2008 2012.
The public consultation we will shortly launch will help to refine our ideas further about the shape of the provision with participation from students and their parents who are currently in year 9 or younger will be critical to ensure we create a provision that will meet a local need.
Once we have published the website and prospectus we will be looking to engage with a small group of parents who wish to support the further development of this proposal, if you are interested please contact Catmose College or Uppingham Community College directly.