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Free school closes because of poor performance

The first free school in the country has been closed down for good because of poor performance - less than three years after opening. The pioneering Discovery New School at Crawley in Sussex was set up to allow parents to choose a Montessori style education.

Free schools are a flagship government education policy that allows schools to operate outside of local authority contol using public money. But this school's troubled path has raised many questions.

The founders of the school say Ofsted - not them - should be blamed. Our Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford has this exclusive report.

Discovery New School in Sussex WILL close in April

The Discovery New School in Sussex will become the country's first free school to close despite efforts to keep it open.

The school opened in September 2011 but was put in special measures when Ofsted inspectors rated it inadequate.

School governors were hoping for a reprieve when they met with government officials, but were told late last night that had failed.

It will close in April this year.

The Discovery New School in Sussex will close in April Credit: ITV Meridian

School governors have 'fair meeting' with Lord Nash

Yesterday Chris Cook, Chair of Governors at Discovery New School, met with Schools Minister Lord Nash, supported by Henry Smith MP and Phillip Bujak, who is the Chief Executive of The Montessori St Nicholas Charity.

At the meeting, Mr Cook presented the case and options for extending support to Discovery New School to Lord Nash.

Mr Cook said:

“We had a fair hearing. We were not given a response at the meeting and must wait to hear what Lord Nash has concluded from our conversations.

I’d like to thank Henry Smith MP for his support and Lord Nash for his time. It is appreciated.”

– Chris Cook, Chair of Governors at Discovery New School


  1. Christine Alsford

'Save our school' the plea from parents & staff at the free school threatened with closure

A failing - free school - which faces closure may win a reprieve. School governors from the Discovery New School in Crawley spent the afternoon meeting with government officials.

The school's representatives were trying to convince the education official that the school, which opened in September 2011, hasn't been given enough time to turn things around. Christine Alsford reports.

'It's heartbreaking to watch children go to other schools'

One of the parents fighting to save a free school in Sussex that is threatened with closure says she is struggling to find a suitable alternative school for her daughter Molly.

The Discovery New School in Crawley, which opened in September 2011, is due to be shut down in April over concerns about its standard of education.

The planned closure is a major blow for the Government's free schools initiative. Parents have delivered a petition to Downing Street to save the school.

One mother, Suzanne Cass, says it's heartbreaking to watch children leaving and going to new schools, and that the Discovery New School should be given more time.

She is hoping that the school will be reprieved today, and made an impassioned plea to save the school ahead of a high level meeting that is being held with Government education officials later today.

Crunch meeting over future of Discovery free school

A crunch meeting is to take place today to discuss the future of the Discovery free school in Crawley in Sussex. The school faces closure because of concerns about the standard of education it offers.

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