Letters: Giving proposed free school a name and website does not mean it is real

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Reading the new Harington sixthform prospectus has once again driven me to writing a letter.

I would hope that parents and students across the county are discerning enough not to be taken in by this aspirational marketing spin around a fictional sixthform college.

Giving it a name and a website doesn’t mean it exists even in the form of a “prospectus”.

Be careful of what we wish for and what we ‘like’ on Facebook and Twitter. I can see no opportunity to “oppose” or “dislike” the proposals on the website, so resort to writing this.

One of the arguments for this proposal is to provide academic subjects which will get students into the top universities. (The prospectus expectation is that only students wanting to go to universities will get a place).

Surely these are generic subjects such as English, maths, sciences, humanities and that’s exactly what Rutland County College provides any way, and gets good results, with students going on to university.

Having attended their recent hugely well-attended open evening, and seeing for ourselves the breadth of subjects on offer, excellent facilities, numbers of students and how they are supported in meeting their goals, I just don’t understand what the rationale is for a free school.

As for providing better opportunities and lower transport costs for high achievers from low-income backgrounds, I find that completely patronising.

All students are considered surely, based on their grades and individual circumstances and would therefore be eligible to access Rutland County College.

In case people don’t know, Rutland County College is just down the road from Catmose, on the outskirts of Oakham. Where would this new sixthform be if not in or around Oakham or Uppingham?

Parents and students - make your own minds up by visiting all the provision currently available to you and deciding what is best for your needs and aspirations.

Michael Gove may think competition and a free market approach to education will raise standards, but that theory may also go down in history as the biggest drain of educational resources ever known.

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED

So Stuart Williams says the free school is needed for reasons including “most of his academic pupils are having to travel significant distances and that is a real 
problem.”

Since when has Catmose College been concerned with distance? It is the fifth criterion applicable to the college’s admissions policy.

Mr Williams certainly was not interested in distance when it meant that my sons would have to travel almost double the distance from home to another secondary school if our appeal failed to gain them entry into Catmose College.

Another reason given by Mr Williams is the consultation with parents and pupils whereby, “not a single person has said the free school is something we shouldn’t consider.”

Well let me tell you Mr Williams, not one person I spoke to or met with disagreed with me either. As you are well aware, we lost our appeal, so this reason of yours has been negated by our experience.

I have visited the website for Harington School and rather pitiably a single letter in support of the free school notion is held up as showing that Rutlanders are really rather well informed.

Why aren’t the articles and letters opposing that idea also shown?

Julia Smith

Main Street, 
Market Overton