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School closure is 'like breaking up a family'

Sophie Dinning (left) and dad John Dinning say the decision to close Durham Free School is a disgrace Credit: ITV

A school pupil says the decision to close Durham Free School is 'like breaking up a family'.

A statement released on the school's Facebook page last night confirm that campaigners had decided not to pursue a Judicial Review and that the school will close at Easter.

Sophie Dinning and her dad John Dinning told ITV News the decision to close the school is a disgrace.

Campaigners give up the fight to save Durham Free School

Durham Free School Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Durham Free School WILL close at Easter after campaigners decided not to pursue a Judicial Review.

A statement released on the school's Facebook page last night said even if a review of the Secretary of State's decision was successful, it would not guarantee the school stayed open in the future.

The statement went on to describe the decision by the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan as a 'miscarriage of justice' and said the priority now was finding alternative schools for the children.

The Department for Education said, following an OFSTED inspection, the school had failed to show enough evidence of improvement, and gave formal notice that its funding would be terminated and should close before Easter.

Last night the school said it would work hard to ensure the last weeks of the school term were as happy and fulfilling as possible for the children

It is with great sadness that I have to inform you that The Durham Free School will close at Easter. We have taken the difficult decision not to pursue a Judicial Review against the Secretary of State for Education. Even if successful, it would do little to assure the school stayed open. Our priority must be to focus on helping the children and their families who have been so badly affected by this terrible miscarriage of justice and to make their last days at the school, which has become like a second family to many, as happy and celebratory as possible.

– Durham Free School


Schoolchildren visit Hitachi train plant

Hitachi plant under construction Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Shepherd, the company building Hitachi's new train-making factory in County Durham is showing schoolchildren around on Friday.

The site, at Newton Aycliffe, is still under construction, and today's event is designed to inspire youngsters to consider a career in construction.

Parents will home-school children if free school closes

Parents outside Durham Free School showed emotion as they said they were 'devastated' by the news that the school will close at Easter.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said funding will stop after it failed to improve following a highly critical Ofsted report in January.

Defiant parents told ITV News Tyne Tees they would continue to fight the closure, and several said if they failed to do so, they would teach their children at home instead.


'Sufficient places' for Durham Free School pupils

Durham County Council says it has identified 'sufficient places' at alternative schools for pupils currently at Durham Free School.

“Our school admissions team has identified sufficient places at local schools, all of which are rated as at least good by Ofsted, for every student currently studying at this school or who has indicated it as their first choice for this September.

“Many parents have already been in touch and of those a number have also applied for an alternative school place. We will work with parents and receiving schools to ensure that pupils have the smoothest possible transition to their new place of study.

“Any parents who would like support and advice on this can speak with the schools admissions team on 03000 265 896.”

– Caroline O’Neill - Durham County Council

Durham Free School 'to close at Easter'

Durham Free School

Durham Free School is to close at Easter, the Department for Education has announced.

The flagship Free School was told last month that its funding agreement would be terminated if it failed to swiftly come up with an action plan to raise standards.

A fresh letter, published today, says that Education Secretary Nicky Morgan does not believe that the Trust running the school has shown enough evidence that it can bring about improvements.

The school, which has a Christian ethos and opened in September 2013 with just 94 pupils, received a highly critical Ofsted report after an inspection at the end of last year.

Inspectors gave it the lowest ratings for leadership. teaching, behaviour and achievement, placing it in special measures.

In response the school questioned many of Ofsted's findings.

Today's letter, signed by Janet Renou, regional schools commissioner for the North, and addressed to chair of governors John Denning, says:

"Having considered the academy trust's representations, the Secretary of State does not consider that you have provided sufficient evidence to show that the academy trust has the capacity or a suitable strategy to bring about the necessary improvements at Durham Free School. The representations put forward did not full demonstrate that the Trust is seriously addressing weaknesses in areas such as safeguarding pupils, poor attendance, quality of teaching and dealing with a "culture of intolerance of people who have different faiths, values or beliefs."

The letter goes on to say: "In short, your representations have not convinced the Secretary of State that the current governing body and leadership team have the capability to turn the school around swiftly so that it will give its pupils an acceptable standard of education."

It concludes: "We have given careful thought to the effect on pupils of having to move to another school; and we have sought to keep any disruption to a minimum by liaising with Durham County Council regarding provision of alternative school places. With this in mind, the Secretary of State has set the date for termination at the end of the spring term."<

In a statement, the school's chair of governors John Denning said: "It is important that parents are informed by the school of the content of the Regional School's Commissioner letter, and that is our priority at this time. The trust is also consulting its legal advisers."

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