WORK has begun on putting together a huge new free school which would help to fill demand for places in North Swindon.
New College are behind the proposal that if successful would see an all-through school built, which would cater for children aged from four to 18, providing a seamless education.
An application has been put to the Department of Education for initial funds so exploratory work can be carried out on how the bid will be put together.
If it goes ahead the project will see a nursery built, a primary school with 420 places, a secondary school with 1,250 places and provision for 250 sixth form places.
The bid is being put together with a sense of urgency to help tackle the chronic shortage of school places in North Swindon, so much so the building of a primary school at Tadpole Farm has had to be moved forward to so it can open later this year.
On top of that, it is expected that by 2016 more than 200 families will have to send their children to a secondary school outside of the area due to the increasing population. By 2018 this could have risen to as much 900.
The principal of New College, Graham Taylor, said: “This really is very exciting for everyone.
“We have looked at a lot of data from the council and there is a need for three secondary schools in the next few years and the primary schools are already full to bursting.
“We were approached to have a look at the issue and decided to go for it. I think it’s a very exciting opportunity.”
The proposal is being put together as a free school, meaning all of the funding will come from central government.
It is hoped the school will be ready by September 2016 so the full submission will need to be put forward by May this year.
In the meantime, 300 signatures from parents will need to be gathered, a number of potential sites need to be identified and sufficient expertise in running a school needs to be demonstrated.
“We need to show that there are enough parents who think this is a good idea,” said Graham.
“If they sign it is not a firm commitment they will attend but only they like the idea. We have identified a number of potential sites for the build.
“As a college with more than 1,000 pupils we have plenty of experience at the 14-plus stage, and we have brought on experts from all around the country to help with other age groups.”
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson has been behind the push for the school in the north and was the one who first approached New College.
He said: “We have a well documented demand for secondary school places and the Government free school programme is a real opportunity.
“I am delighted that after I approached New College they are willing to step up to the plate and are working with myself and others in the community.
“I approached New College because of their fantastic track record in delivering education but also in delivering a number of expansions on their current site.”