THE man behind a bid to build a new secondary school in North Swindon has given his support to a new bid being put forward by New College.

Kevin Gray, 47, was previously trying to get a free school plan off the ground but will now play a key role in the new proposal.

It emerged last week New College is looking to create a through school, which caters for children aged four to 18, to help meet the chronic shortage of places.

It is expected that by 2016, when it is hoped the school will open, 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 as 900.

Now Kevin, who is the chair of governors at Isambard School, will take on the role of Strategy and Community Lead and is seeking to help build up public support for the school.

He said: “If this goes ahead it will benefit not just North Swindon but the whole of Swindon.

“If the current level of places remains as it is, then students will be forced to go to schools elsewhere, thereby putting pressure on them.

“A few weeks ago it felt as though I was the lone voice trying to find a solution to this problem but now it really feels as though the wheels are turning and we’re getting somewhere.”

Kevin confirmed that the original proposal to build a free school has now been abandoned in support of the New College bid.

He said: “The reality is we can’t compete with New College which has so much more experience behind it.

“I recently held a meeting to put together an organising committee and made a list of things we needed to do and there was a lot of concern raised by those who atttended that we lacked experience and expertise in certain areas.

“Well, New College bring that to the table. They have built a lot of extensions in recent years to their site and every one of them was built on time and on budget.”

Kevin has warned there is still a long way to go with quite a few hurdles to overcome. In order to have the best chance of opening a school in time, the bid needs to be submitted by May this year.

For the bid to be considered, around 500 signatures will be needed, both from parents who would be interested in sending their child to the secondary school, and from students who would go to the sixth form.

“My role over the next few months will be to gather that support,” said Kevin.

“It is important to me the school remains close to the community and is representative of North Swindon.”