Plans for ‘free school’ in Mablethorpe dealt a major setback

The Coastal Free School would have been housed at the old Mablethorpe site of Monks Dyke Tennyson College. Now pupils who previously went there have to travel out of town to attend secondary school.
The Coastal Free School would have been housed at the old Mablethorpe site of Monks Dyke Tennyson College. Now pupils who previously went there have to travel out of town to attend secondary school.

Ambitious plans to establish a new Coastal Free School in Mablethorpe have suffered a ‘major setback’ after an education trust withdrew its support.

The David Ross Education Trust (DRET) was a vital component in the overall plan to set up the school which would see secondary school education return to the town following the closure of the local campus of Monks’ Dyke Tennyson College.

The Coast Free School project team released a statement last week saying DRET had pulled out over concerns about the number of pupils who would attend.

That statement has been confirmed by a spokesman for DRET.

The Coastal Free School’s project team, made up of Chris Flanagan, Paddy Prince, Tony Howard and Sara Goodley, said: “Regrettably, due to concerns in relation to pupil number viability for the project, it is with great sadness that the David Ross Foundation Trust (DRET) are withdrawing their support.”

The team added it was ‘very unlikely’ an application would now be submitted to the Department of Education (DfE).

The project team said it has explored every other avenue to establish a secondary school. Mr Flanagan described the latest twist as ‘very disappointing’ after almost two years of work.

He added the project team felt it was important the community was informed the Free School project had suffered a ‘major setback’.

The setback is a blow to residents and parents who had been calling for secondary education to return to Mabelthorpe.

As present, pupils have to travel to out-of-town schools with some commuting as far as Louth.

Town councillor Joyce Taylor, who has been a keen supporter of the Free School project, said she was ‘absolutely gutted’ by the latest development.

She said: “It is a sad day for Mablethorpe.

“We have the kids here, but sadly it’s a ‘bums on seats exercise’ that hasn’t worked out this time.”

Coun Taylor remains hopeful there is still a future for the provision of secondary education in the town.

She added: “I’m not giving up on this. Secondary education is something we desperately need.

“The free school idea is still a possibility and there’s nothing stopping us from trying again.”

If plans had gone ahead, the Coastal Free School would have opened in September 2018.

The Free School team will now consider their options at a general meeting, the date of which has yet to be determined.