Controversial School Sets Up Base Camp

Phoenix Free School set to rise from ashes of Marland Fold

After years of speculation, Professor Tom Burkard has found a suitable site for his free school. Taking over the site of Marland Fold School, the Phoenix Free School will open in September 2014 on Rosary Road, Fitton Hill.

Following a cabinet meeting, Oldham Council have agreed to release the land on a 125 year lease with a peppercorn rent. Only last year, the Marland Fold site was earmarked for housing, as part of a joint development with Keepmoat Homes. The new school will be staffed by ex-military personnel, though without military style lessons.

There has previously been attempts by Professor Burkard to acquire the former Breeze Hill Comprehensive School. The former Oldham Rifle Brigade headquarters on Rifle Street, Oldham Edge was mooted as a temporary location.

Its initial intake will be 120 pupils, taught to IGCSE standards, as used in private schools throughout England and Wales. It aims to have a strong programme of sport, physical education and extra-curricular activities with the best elements of Grammar School and Independent School education.

Ultimately, Phoenix High School aims to have 840 pupils and a sixth form on a purpose built campus funded by the Department for Education.

Though Fitton Hill is set to gain its first secondary school for 25 years, Oldham Council leader Jim McMahon is none too pleased. Citing another free school’s low pupil numbers, Collective Spirit’s base on Hollinwood Avenue, he claimed it was “an outrageous use of public funds for what is a political project.”

S.V., 09 January 2014.

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