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MP starts push for new Swindon school
TALKS have been underway between the MP for North Swindon Justin Tomlinson and the Education Secretary Michael Gove in a bid to secure funding to tackle the borough’s future crisis for secondary school places.
It is estimated that an extra 150 secondary school places will be needed in Swindon in the next five years which has sparked an independent group of parents and school governors to look for alternatives and a council consultation to be launched.
In the past six years, Swindon Council created 676 new primary school places to combat the borough’s growing population. This has seen eight new schools and 11 extensions taking place across the area.
However, if nothing is done, the number of secondary school places available for children currently at primary schools will fall short by 150, or five forms of entry, across the borough by 2018. That will rise to 27 forms of entry, or 810 places, by the middle of the following decade.
In August, a public meeting was hosted at Isambard Community School to create a working party to rally support for a new secondary school in the area.
But attendance figures were low, with only two parents turning up.
To attract funding for the new school 360 parents, whose children will be going into Year 7 in 2015/16, will have to express an interest in sending their child to the school.
Mr Tomlinson, who has been involved in setting up the working party, said this figure has been hard to reach because there has been a feeling among parents that everything will be ‘alright on the night’.
“People know there is going to be a lack of places, but everyone thinks their child is still going to get a place,” said Mr Tomlinson.
“We know there is going to be demand in a couple of years in North Swindon for a new school and we need funding to build a bespoke school that meets the local community’s needs. However we have to physically show that the demand is there which is difficult to get busy parents to sign up to years in advance.”
He said his talks with Mr Gove discussed options of receiving funding from the Government without getting the 360 signatures from parents.
“He said there could be ways around it,” said Mr Tomlinson.
Mr Tomlinson plans to meet with the people behind the free school concept to talk further about the issue.
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