News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Thursday, 5 July 2007

If You Can't Beat Them....


Colston's Girls' School has applied to become a city academy - that is, an independent school funded by the state.

Three thoughts:

1. The move is a testimony to the attraction of the academy model. The present government has put a lot of store by them and, although they have not been in existence long enough for any rigorous research to be done on their impact across a city, the anecdotal evidence from those in favor of them is that they do help raise standards and behavior.

2. As highlighted in a previous post, the new secondary school at Redland Green is starting to have an effect on applications for the independent Redland High School for Girls, situated less than half a mile away. The announcement from Colston's Girls may indicate that the ripple effect of a good state school in the area is now starting to impact this school as well. Informed sources say that applications to study A levels at Colston's Girls have been in decline since the opening of the new Redcliffe Sixth Form Centre, which has attracted a good number of girls from Colston's this academic year who would otherwise have stayed on at the independent school.

There's no doubt that the growth and strength of the independent sector in Bristol has been in direct relation to the weaknesses in many of the city's state secondary schools. If this latter problem is being addressed, we would expect to see a corresponding impact on the independent schools.

3. If (and it is a very big if) Colston's Girls does become an academy, one immediate effect will be to reduce the numbers of students applying for Redland Green School in the years to come. With places for 525 girls aged 11-16 (and 168 in the sixth form), the prospect of Colston's becoming a state school would have a major effect on secondary education in Bristol. If it were to happen, more families who have not been successful in applying for this school may find places becoming available. This would presumably include families from Westbury on Trym and Stoke Bishop, virtually none of whom have been admitted to Redland Green this academic year, despite living in the catchment area. More on that here.

We'll watch this one with interest.

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