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Feelings run high over free school plan

Reporter: HELEN KORN
Date online: 14 March 2013

AN OVERFLOWING public meeting last night aired hopes and fears over Oldham’s first free school.

Parents and residents packed into the City Learning Centre in Chadderton to hear about the Collective Spirit Free School (CSFS) opening on the site of the former South Chadderton School.

The “faith-sensitive” school is due to launch in September and will at first be open only to 60 Year 7 pupils. Other year groups will be introduced gradually until the school reaches a capacity of 300.

Feelings about the new venture were mixed as parents and residents crammed into a small room for a question time session with school staff and directors.

The audience had to be separated into residents and parents when the atmosphere became heated.

Parents were told they could expect to see their children educated in a five-term year with a four-week summer holiday.

The school will also be open 33 hours a week -not the usual 25 hours - with the school day ending at 5pm except on Friday. Key subjects maths, English and science will be taught before lunch followed by opportunities to take up hobbies such as drama or art in the afternoon.

The new intake can expect to wear a royal blue and lime green uniform.

But residents were outraged with the suggestion they had been fully consulted over the plans.

They expressed fears about additional buildings being erected on the school fields, and about parking and traffic issues.

Adviser Marc Collett insisted three ward councillors had been sent letters and emails about the plans but hadn’t responded.

Councillor Dave Hibbert, sitting in the crowd, said the school hadn’t spoken to ocal councillors — which he considered “a prerequisite” of any proposals

CSFS director Alun Morgan, said the Department of Education had made the decision to use the South Chadderton site.

But parents seemed generally thrilled with the plans.


At the meeting Raja Miah of Collective Spirit responded directly to Cllr Hibbert. I found him to be completely honest and his aspirations genuinely inspiring.

So OMBC is it true that Raja Miah first contacted you in December 2011 and asked that the Council get involved in shaping their offer? And is it true that the Leader and the fellow senior Councillors only met with him in February 2013. As in last month?

This is a mess of the Council's own making. It's not like they don't have form.

People should hang their heads in shame in England in the 21st century to support education with any religious connotations, undercurrents or implied sensitivity. Teach people about people, fact & reasoned theories where attempts are being made to prove the theory. Religion comes with no more evidence attached than David Icke's theory on lizards ruling the world. Religion the last hiding place of sexism, racism and discrimination.

This question may have been asked before but what do they mean by 'faith sensitive'?

I believe that South Chadderton was a large school[maybe 1000 pupils?] and so it is hard to see why such a large site is required. How can they hope to get the range of staff needed to provide a choice of subjects with only 300 pupils to cater for? Even maintaining the grounds will be costly with such a small intake.

I wonder if this 'sensitive' school will be accepting of the teaching that one religion is superior to others, that the final day cannot come until the Jews have been defeated, the gays have been killed, and non believers forced into a state of servitude.
Where those who no longer believe are to be murdered, women are not equal to men, and that Darwins theory of evolution is not to be taught at all.
Fail to follow these & there's no sensitivity at all!

well the concept sounds good,33 hrs aweek and only 4 weeks holiday in the summer,thats something all schools should take on but our lazy teachers wouldn't agree to that!

By Flake @ - Good luck with getting an answer to your questions(which I, too, would be extremely interested to know). However, I can't help being so negative as to thinking the proverbial 'wall of silence' will ensue, especially if the usual 'isms'have been tried and tested on you but have failed to silence you.

The Catchment area for this school is Coldhurst, Werneth & South Chadderton. So it maybe (supposedly) "Faith Sensitive" but its catchment area excludes 2/3 of the town it is situated in! Adding to the 80% of Oldham school pupils of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin attended schools, in 2009, in which no more than 20% of the pupils were white.
A study, by Bristol University, found more than 70% of white pupils were in "majority white" schools, in which at least 80% of pupils were white British

'religion the last hiding place of sexism,racism and discrimination' well put, bang on.

There is little anyone locally can do shape events when the political tide is in favour of free schools.
At last OMBC feel like we do.

horrible nd unwelcome dear oh dear what's becoming of education since this shower turned up uninvited

Yes isn't it horrible that a group of local people are bringing in millions of pounds of educational investment to challange the ongoing underachievement in most of our schools. How dare they not stand aside and let things stay the way things are!

Really, are we as a town that naive and ignorant that we can not notice something amazing in our town. This school is the best news that has happened to our town in a very very long time and we have people that are nip picking on 'faith-sensitive', my advice is all you ignorant and arrogant people to go and research what 'faith-sensitive' means and then you will understand how silly you sound that you keep bringing this up.

Yes isn't it horrible that a group of local people are bringing in millions of pounds of educational investment to challange the ongoing underachievement in most of our schools. How dare they not stand aside and let things stay the way things are!


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