Bid to stave off schooling crisis

PARENTS in North Swindon are being urged to face up to the reality of a lack of secondary school places in the coming years.

It is expected that by 2016 more than 200 families will have to send their children to a school outside of the area due to the increasing population. By 2018 this could have risen to as much 900.

Kevin Gray, 47, the Chair of Governors at Isambard School, is asking parents to look at whether they want their children to go to school close to home and if so help him take action.

He wants to set up another free school in the area, entirely separate from Isambard, ready to open for 2016 but will not be able to do so without support from locals.

He said: “If this is to get off the ground then we need 300 signatures from parents saying they will send their children to a free school if it is opened.

“The signature would not be a legal obligation to then send their child to that school but it is something we can take to the government.

“You can have the perfect site and a great curriculum with teaching staff but if you don’t have the 300 signatures then the government will not even look at the bid.”

If the school is to open in time for September 2016 then the signatures need to be collected by May.

One of the fundamental motivations for Kevin looking to form a new school is the effect the shortage of places will have on his family.

“I have an eight-year-old child and we currently live one mile from Isambard but as it stands he will probably not be able to go there,” said Kevin.

“Hundreds of families are facing the prospect of having to send their child to a school much further away.

“Obviously, there will be a proportion for whom it is easier to go elsewhere, but this will still leave a large number disappointed.”

Kevin has been speaking at public meetings and even organised his own meetings but so far has not received a huge amount of support.

Another meeting is being held tomorrow night at which Kevin is hoping to put together a team who can help collect the signatures.

“So far there has been a degree of apathy but when I have spoken with people directly they understand there is a big problem,” he said.

“It is important that we turn that support into signatures. It is a public meeting but I am hoping to coordinate those who have previously said they want to help gather support for the school.”

The meeting will take place at 7pm at the Haydon Wick Parish Council Offices.

See www.northswindon11to19.org. for information.

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