A few people have wondered what has happened to Route 39 free school, now known as Atlantic Academy. Jack Jackson, the CEO of Launceston Multi Academy Trust, attended the July meeting of Woolsery Parish Council to discuss the future of Route 39/Atlantic Academy, and the minutes of that meeting are now available. In a nutshell, these are the key points but you can access the full minutes in the link.
Launceston became the preferred sponsor for the academy back in February 2018, with Lynsey Slater as acting Principal, now confirmed as permanently in role. The school, based at Steart Farm, had 154 pupils on roll, and the cost of the enterprise has been around £30 million. The number of pupils may have changed since the September intake.
Part of the reason why Ofsted placed Route 39 into special measures was due to children not being entered for their GCSEs and consequently being kept back a year. With additional resources and hard work provided by Launceston College and Bideford College, all children in Years 11 and 12, completed their exams this summer, so that is good news for those students.
Concerns were raised by locals about the school failing to attract sufficient numbers due to its location, and penalties for the local community. Mr Jackson explained that there will be no additional funding available to the school beyond the current year five. Finance liability and risks will be managed by the Multi-Academy Trust (MAT). Numbers have been reduced from 600/700 to 300, 60 children per year group. There will be no financial penalties passed onto the taxpayers. There are no plans for a 6th form for the foreseeable future. The curriculum will not be as broad as other schools (such as Bideford College); however, depending on subject interest, teachers can be used from other schools.
Mr Jackson was emphatic that, contrary to rumours that the school might cater for alternative provision, the school would not only cater to those excluded from other schools. There will also be cross-learning between the academy and Bideford College, though no distinction between the schools in terms of academic/vocational courses. The school aims to try to build bridges with the previously alienated local community and it is envisaged that the long-term catchment area will be the Hartland Peninsula, the school being smaller (in terms of numbers) than originally envisaged.
The news feed for the Academy is positive and shows students enjoying their new school.