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Bristol Free School – Proposed Sixth Form – results of consultation, January 2014.

Bristol Free School is proposing to change its age range from the current 11 – 16 to 11 – 19, by adding a sixth form.  As part of this process the governing body carried out a consultation, lasting two months (1st November to 31st December 2013), on the proposal and this consultation period has now ended.  The question asked as part of the consultation was:-

  • I am in favour of Bristol Free School adding a sixth form and increasing its age range from 11 – 16 to 11 – 19.
  • I am NOT in favour of Bristol Free School adding a sixth form and increasing its age range from 11 – 16 to 11 – 19.
  • Are you expressing a view on this matter as:-
    • An individual
    • On behalf of a group or institution (please indicate its name)
  • Please add a comment or reason if you wish:

Notice of this consultation was emailed to all local primary and secondary schools, relevant Local Authorities and other likely to be interested parties.  Local schools were asked to bring this consultation to the attention of their parent body, if they felt it appropriate.
Results
A relatively small number of responses, 70, were received; this was not unexpected as generally the proposal is considered not to be controversial.  Of the responses:-

  • 46 were from parents of students already at BFS
  • 14 were from parents with at least one child at a local primary school
  • 8 were from individuals who did not indicate they had school age children
  • 2 were from an organisation

Of the 70 responses, 68 were in favour of the proposal with many adding strongly worded positive statements about BFS having a sixth form, for example:-

“My daughter started at BFS this year and is very happy there. We are very impressed by the school facilities, environment and ethics which are excellent. However, it is the Headmaster and teachers who are making this school such a success. Their commitment and drive is fantastic in all aspects of school life. I know my daughter is going to do well at BFS and I am 100% in favour of a sixth form where this good work can continue.”

“Both of my daughters are currently at BFS and we are extremely pleased with the school. We would welcome a 6th form at BFS in order that they can continue to attend a local 6th form which aspires to educate our children to the highest level. Something they are currently doing extremely well in the main school. I can only see positive outcomes for such a proposal for, not just our children, but for the future of the school.”

“The sixth form is necessary to provide a continuance of the excellent education that the students currently receive.”

“We will want to have the opportunity to continue our children's education in the school’s own sixth form. The extra capacity in the large empty block alongside the main school building was included in the lease from the DfE to provide a cost effective solution to adding a sixth form. We would not want to see this building empty or occupied with lessors not involved with the school for security reasons.”

“In a survey conducted by Parents Voice when campaigning for a Free School 94% of respondents were in favour of a sixth form.”

Of the two negative responses, one was from an individual, who anonymised their response and made no comment.  The other was from a local secondary school (Orchard School) and not entirely negative.  On the positive side, their response suggested that it could offer choice to their students – a closer alternative to North Bristol Post 16 centre and the curriculum may also complement other sixth forms and broaden opportunities.  On the negative side, they commented, it will impact on our recruitment into year 7, it will be exclusive not having open entry and it will weaken other existing provision.

Next steps

This report will be presented to the school’s governing body with a recommendation that a formal application is now made to the Department for Education (DfE)and the Education Funding Agency (EFA) to alter the school’s age range from 11-16 to 11-19.

Russell Education Trust, February 2014