Newmarket: College launches broadside at Free School while MP criticises ‘biased attack’

Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk

Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk - Credit: Archant

A college in west Suffolk has claimed a proposed free school would result in a lack of opportunities for young people, severely reduced subject choices for students, as well as causing multiple job losses.

Leaders of Newmarket College have said a decision to go ahead with a free school, which is currently subject to town council discussion, would also limit aspirations and career horizons.

But last night West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock said criticisms from the college, which was placed into special measures in April, were “totally inappropriate.”

Writing in a 13-page document handed to the town council Newmarket College principal Dr Bob Cadwalladr said: “We want to ensure that town councillors understand the true implications of opening a free school in Newmarket. It will have a damaging impact on Newmarket College as the number of children in the town cannot sustain two secondary schools.

“The college provides excellent provision to accommodate all children in the area and a free school would result in reduced intake, job losses and reduced teaching staff and, therefore, a narrower curriculum at the college.”

He added: “The school has been at the heart of Newmarket for decades, providing excellent education and pastoral care for its children, and this would be a disaster for the community.

“The dossier we’ve prepared puts a compelling case for Councillors to channel their support into the College rather than being distracted by proposals for an alternative school.”

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Newmarket Town Council decided on Monday night that they would support the free school in principle.

Mr Hancock added: “Free schools are set up in response to parental demand and I will look carefully at the proposals.

“Parents will always look for the best education for their children and one reason pupil numbers are so low in Newmarket is because parents are already taking their children out of the area.

“It is totally inappropriate of Dr Cadwalladr to launch a biased attack on others who understandably want to improve education in Newmarket.”