School’s ‘free’ bid slammed

Coun Kim Snape outside Rivington Park School which is applying for free status.

Coun Kim Snape outside Rivington Park School which is applying for free status.

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A Chorley school’s bid for ‘free’ status has sparked a fresh controversy.

The application by Rivington Park comes just weeks after a bid for another free school in Chorley was withdrawn when the Department for Education refused funding.

The Gill Academy Trust had put forward controversial plans to launch the Chorley Career and Sixth Form Academy.

The latest move, by independent Rivington Park, Rivington Lane, has been slammed by ward councillor Kim Snape.

She said: “It’s a private school taking money from the public sector basically but it is 200 yards from the boundary with Great Manchester and the majority of the intake, I believe, is from Greater Manchester - Bolton.

“They are taking funding off Chorley primarily, and Lancashire.”

The school had applied to the Department for Education for free status starting in September 2013.

In a website message for parents, headteacher Michael Ruaux said the application was assessed as “strong” in most areas, however there were three areas that needed additional clarification to demonstrate the school fulfilled the criteria and will resubmit the application for 2014.

He saidd: “My initial reaction was disappointment that we did not make the next stage of the process for the 2013 cycle.

“However, having had a lengthy discussion with the support team at the New School Network I can see just how close we are to success.”

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle welcomed the DfE’s funding decision regarding the application by the Gill Academy Trust and said he opposed the establishment of a free school in Chorley from the outset.