Frequently Asked Questions
What are free schools?
Free schools are independent, state-funded schools which have the same legal status as academies. They are set up in response to what local people say they want and need in order to improve the education provision for children in their community.
Why is a new school needed?
Northampton Free School Trust worked with Northamptonshire County Council to establish the level of need for new school places at both the primary and secondary phases, and officers have provided us with their projections as the source for this. As is the case in much of the country, a rise in the birth rates locally is in itself creating pressure on existing schools; in Northampton, this rise is projected to be up to 15% by 2020/21. In addition to this, significant development projects across and just outside the town will continue to add to the number of children requiring school places across all age groups.
Once the LA has completed its process of expansion of the Pupil Admission Numbers (PANs) of some primary schools, there will be a total capacity of 2,880 places available per year group. However, data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in July 2013 shows that there have been over 3,300 live births in Northampton each year since 2010, rising to 3,369 live births in Northampton in 2012. Demographic pressures are already having an impact in the primary phase, with some primary schools close to our proposed site over capacity by more than 30 pupils. In addition to this natural rise in pupil numbers, there will also continue to be a rise in numbers from local developments and inwards migration, particularly of young families to the area.
The need for new places in the secondary phase is also critical. Council projections show that by the academic year 2016/17, when the school will open, the shortfall in secondary places will be almost five forms of entry. By the academic year 2020/21, the shortfall is projected to be up to 19 forms of entry.
By providing 4FE from 2016 onwards, Wootton Park School will contribute to meeting this need as it becomes more extreme, whilst not causing an undue surplus in places in its early years of opening when the school is in its growth phase.
Will free schools be able to make a profit?
No. Free schools can only be set up and run on a not-for-profit basis by a charitable Trust.
Where will the school be situated?
Wootton Park School will open in bespoke temporary buildings outside the force’s secure area, while Northamptonshire Police continues to operate on their part of the site until their relocation is complete.
Why are you proposing to open with Reception and Year 7 classes?
Our vision is that Wootton Park School will have a strong culture and ethos of service and good character. We believe we can best establish this by opening gradually. Local authority projections show that demand for additional school places in Northampton is rapidly outstripping supply, so we have agreed to open with a Reception and Year 7 intake in order to meet the needs of local families.
Are free schools selective?
No. Free schools have to follow the Admissions Code in the same way as all state-funded schools.
If Wootton Park School opens, will that mean less money for the other schools in the area?
No. Funding for free schools will be equivalent to the funding of maintained schools and academies in the same local authority area. The opening of a free school does not mean that the overall funding available in an area goes down. However, the total funding an individual school receives will depend on the number of pupils attending.
Will Wootton Park School be inspected by Ofsted?
Yes. Free schools are subject to the same inspection and examination requirements as academies and local authority schools.
Have you chosen a Principal for Wootton Park School?
Yes. We are delighted to announce that we have appointed our Principal, Dan Rosser, who joined us in January 2016.
How will the school be accountable?
The school will be run by a Board of Governors who will be accountable to the charitable Trust which oversees the school. In addition the school will be accountable to the Secretary of State for Education through the terms of its Funding Agreement.
How can I apply for a place?
Applications for Reception and Year 7 places for 2016 are made directly to Wootton Park School in addition to the usual Local Authority process and will not affect any other school applications you have made. You can apply here.