Free college ready to cater for teenagers
5:30am Wednesday 2nd April 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
THE scope of a free school bid being put forward by New College will now focus on providing an education for youngsters aged from 11 to 18.
Initially, it was intended the school should cater for children from the age of four, meaning they could have a continuous education as they grew older.
However, after further research it has been discovered the need for primary school places is not likely to increase dramatically until 2018, several years after the free school plans to open.
As a result, primary provision will continue to be provided by existing schools, all of which have expanded in recent years, and the new Tadpole Farm School, which is to open in September.
Graham Taylor, the principal of New College, said: “When we initially started to look at North Swindon, we were advised that a through school would be the most favourable option.
“However, we have since done further research which has involved speaking to other schools, councillors and housebuilders.
“We have since discovered that there wasn’t the demand we initially thought so are now going to focus on just secondary and sixth form provision.
“We have no intention of cannibalising the whole area in terms of primary educating and it is important we work with the highly talented head teachers already working in the north of the town.”
Graham is not ruling out potentially being in a position to become a full through school at a later date, if a suitable location for the school can be found.
With Swindon set to expand by 22,000 households by 2026, there could well be need later.
He said: “We would like to have the option further down the line if there was the demand but this would be down to the Department Of Education and they may well tell us it is not needed.
“It would depend on the size of the site we were given but I think the idea of a through school appeals to a lot of people.”
A campaign to gain support is currently under way as New College and others involved in the school need to gather 375 signatures from parents who say they would be willing to send their child to the school.
As it stands, they have 150 signatures, and the number is rapidly growing.
A further meeting to provide parents with information is being held tonight.
“It has been a really positive response so far and we are pleased with how it is going,” said Graham.
“The important thing to note is that this signature is not a binding contract, just support for the school.
“What is more important than anything is making sure we have the support of the residents because this will be a school for them and their children when it opens.”
The information evening about the school will be held at the North Swindon Library at 6pm.
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