News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Bristol Free School Opens Shopfront in Westbury on Trym

Dawn over Bristol, viewed from Henleaze (best ...Image via Wikipedia

Bristol Free School, due to open in the former government offices in Burghill Road in September, has set up shop in Westbury Hill.  The retail unit next door to Oxfam was formerly home to the unfortunately-named K Stabb shoe shop which has recently ceased trading. A large advert for the Bristol Free School has appeared in the shop window inviting parents to register their interest in their children attending the new school.

Although Free Schools are non-selective, the large advert in the village does contain a number of graphic and textual markers which function as code for the kind of school being proposed for BS9's new secondary. These include:
  • a formal uniform, including blazers and ties for boys, only available from IKON Schools at Henleaze Road. Similar uniforms cost around £250 or more from IKON. Unlike state secondaries, such as Redland Green School, the Free School contains no information on its website about any financial assistance that might be available to families who might not be able to afford such a uniform.
  • an "unashamedly traditional" curriculum (ie Latin included).
  • the claim that the school meets a need not provided for elsewhere in the area.

This latter claim is perhaps the most controversial, in the week that head of nearby Henbury School Clare Bradford has claimed that there will be 300 spare places at the city's four local secondary schools this September.  The claim that there is limited local secondary school provision is, let's at least be honest, a claim that there is limited secondary school provision that significant numbers of Westbury on Trym parents have confidence in. Which is another matter altogether. 



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rwendland said...

Al, have you closely studied the map on the Bristol Free School admissions criteria webpage?

Wondered if you had noticed that Burghill Road is outside the school's proscribed catchment area (seemingly known as Admissions Priority Area)? So any kids who might live extremely close in Burghill Road have pretty much a zero chance of getting into the school. Nearby kids in Southmead do get priority, but only to 10% (ish) of the places.

The 80% (ish) Westbury admission criteria does not seem tenable if the school does indeed remain at Burghill Road.

Al Shaw said...

I must confess that I hadn't noticed that.

It does seem something of an anomaly, although the pin at the centre of the map is of course located at the Oasis/St Ursula's site, which the Free School hopes to move to in 2012.

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