Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has confirmed that she plans to go ahead with closing a Christian school, despite hearing numerous concerns from parents, pupils and teachers.
Mrs Morgan stated her intention to withdraw funding from The Durham Free School last month after a controversial inspection by schools’ regulator Ofsted.
John Denning, the Chair of Governors of the school, received a letter from the Department for Education this week.
The letter reads, “the Secretary of State has considered your representations. She has also taken into account representations made in letters and emails from parents and pupils of Durham Free School and others.
“Having considered all these representations carefully, the Secretary of State remains satisfied that it is appropriate to terminate the Funding Agreement.”
The letter goes on to state that the school’s funding will be withdrawn from Friday 27 March.
Parents, pupils and teachers reacted with disbelief last month after Ofsted inspectors claimed to have found evidence of homophobia and racism.
After Morgan threatened to close the school, more than 50 pupils wrote to her with heartfelt pleas not to.
Jessica Goodwin, aged twelve, wrote: “What are you trying to do to our school? Is it really worth breaking these students’ hearts just to get election votes?”
Speaking to the Newcastle Chronicle, eleven-year-old Chelsea Peat addressed the Education Secretary, asking her not to judge the school “when you haven’t seen it with your own eyes”.
John Denning also made an official complaint against Ofsted for claims it made about the school.
Mr Denning accused Ofsted inspectors of asking a range of inappropriate questions to children aged 11-14 including: “Have you had ‘The Talk’?” and “Have you learned how to make a baby?”.
The school is receiving legal advice after this latest setback. Lawyers acting for The Durham Free School have already challenged the legality of Morgan’s announcement to withdraw funding from the school, saying that she had a “closed mind” on the matter.
The school submitted an 18-page legal challenge to the Department for Education stating that Morgan has prejudged the case.
The challenge stated, “Our client has no confidence in your ability to make a fair, proportionate and lawful final decision in relation to the future of the school since you are not open to any representations”.