Government U-turn forces students to look for a new school

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Eighty students will be forced to look for a new school in September after Fernwood had its free school status removed by the government.

The independent school in Aspley Heath was set to become a free school in September, but will now close as a result of the government’s U-turn.

Free schools are state-funded schools set up by groups of parents and charities.

Carla Binto-Cookham, from Woburn Sands,whose daughter goes the school, says she will now have to find a new place for her daughter to go, though many schools in her area are already full.

She said: “Now that the free-school status has been withdrawn, I’ll have to find another school for my daughter. But because the deadline has passed, most of the parents will end up with whatever schools have a place, not necessarily the schools we want our children to go to.

“The decision to become a free school was made 15 months ago, so it’s outrageous that it has been done this late in the day.”

It is believed a large number of children from Woburn Sands attend the school.

The issue was raised by Mid-Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries to Prime Minister David Cameron in the House of Commons last Wednesday.

She said: “Fernwood School was offered free school status 14 months ago as part of the Barnfield Federation, but last week that offer was removed without the school knowing why.”

The MP also visited the school last week to discuss what could be done to reverse the Department of Education’s decision.

Mary Deyner, who owns Fernwood, said she was given no warning of the news and that she’d help find new schools for the pupils.