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Gove blocks Sandwell bid for all girls Oldbury free school
THE GOVERNMENT have blocked the application to build the controversial Sandwell High School for Girls in Oldbury.
Education secretary Michael Gove refused to approve London company Capital Talent and The Griffin Trust's application for the free school, which was backed by Sandwell Council.
The proposed free school sat uneasy with many Labour councillors who disagreed with the principle of free schools operating independently from the Local Education Authority.
However, they overwhelmingly voted in favour of the Capital Talent bid to reduce the number Sandwell girls being educated outside the borough and shorten the odds of a religious free school being approved.
However, an independent application for a Sikh school in Smethwick has also been turned down meaning that no free schools will be opened in Sandwell in the foreseeable future.
The Department of Education confirmed the decision to the Halesowen News. A spokesman said: “We can confirm bids for free schools in Sandwell have not been approved.
“However, we will not give the reasons why individual free school applications have been turned down.”
Cabinet member for children and families Councillor Bob Badham said he was disappointed that the application by the Grffin Trust for an all girls had been turned down.
He said: "Surveys have shown that up to 1,600 girls are leaving the borough because they want to attend an all girls school.
"This clearly shows that the community feels there is a need for a school like this and Mr Gove's decision is very disappointing."
Langley Independent Socialist Councillor Mick Davies is glad the all girls independent school will not open in Oldbury.
He said: “Michael Gove is the worst minister for education since Thatcher but in this case I have to agree with him.
“And I know there are a good number of Labour Councillors who had concerns about an all girls school.” He added: “I fancy it was another leadership led initiative with little thought.”
Free schools are independent of the local authority, Government funded and can be run by companies, trusts or religious organisations and have the freedom to set their own school hours, teachers pay and conditions and curriculum.
If approved Capital Talent planned to open Sandwell High School for Girls in Oldbury in September 2013.