Struggling Tilbury Manor to have students transferred to Free School

SO IT goes like this.

There were five primary schools in Chadwell and Tilbury.

There were enough students in Tilbury and Chadwell for five primary schools, no more, no less.

Then Michael Gove came to Gateway Academy in January 2011.

“More power to the Gateway” said Mr Gove.

So, principal Kevin Sadler took Mr Gove at his word.

And developed the Gateway Learning Community, taking on board, other schools such as Herringham Academy and Lansdowne Academy.

They wanted to bring on board, the beleaguered Tilbury Manor but Thurrock Council would not play ball.

They opened their own primary school called the Gateway Free School.

However, according to reports, not as many students applied to the school as they wanted. It is alleged that they tried to spread the numbers around the schools.

So somewhere along the line, there seemed to be a synergy between the school in special measures (Tilbury Manor) and the school that lacked a market (The Gateway Free School).

But this is where, savvy council leader, John Kent stepped in.

Cllr Kent said: “The council’s education team, Gateway Academy and Manor’s head and governing body have come up with a scheme which should solve the short-term places issue and keep both Manor and the free school viable.

“We’re not sure if this sort of thing has been tried elsewhere, but as far as I can see, it is a win-win for everybody involved – schools, parents and most importantly, the children themselves.”

Manor School is to become a sponsored academy from April 2014. At that point it will have only a reception class and classes for Years 1 and 2.

The Year 3, 4, 5, and 6 classes will physically transfer to the free school with the Gateway Academy paying for transport.

Cllr Kent said: “This means that from next September, Manor will have three school years and the free school will have a reception class, Year 1 and Years 3, 4, 5, and 6 from Manor.

“From September 2015 the free school will have year classes in every age group and Manor will have reception and Years 1, 2, and 3. As time goes on the Dickens Road school will fill up again in each year group.

“This means the whole Gateway learning community will have sufficient pupils for the places available, Manor will be able to continue on its improvement journey and there will be a smooth transition with all the pupils being guaranteed a secondary school place in Tilbury.

“You can’t blame schools for wanting to become academies – for some it makes total financial sense and I get that. “What has happened here is exactly what the Education Commission was asking for; schools and councils talking and working together to find sensible solutions to the issues they face and I want to congratulate everyone involved for the work they have put in. No schools close and everyone gets a secure and positive future.”

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