Parents back school scheme

Swindon Advertiser: Kevin Gray Kevin Gray

MORE parents are getting behind plans to build a new secondary school in North Swindon to counter an expected shortfall of places in coming years.

In just two years more than 200 families will have to send their teenagers to a school outside the area because of the increasing population, and by 2018 this could rise to as many as 900.

In a public meeting on Tuesday Kevin Gray, a parent of two from Abbey Meads, explained to parents the process behind preparing and submitting a free school bid with a view to encouraging them to be part of plans.

He said: “I have an eight-year-old who has no school in the local area to go to, and a 13-year-old with no post-16 provisions for him to progress to.

“In 2016 both of my children will face this crisis, like many families, which is why I think we need to put a bid in now.”

Kevin hopes to put in a free school bid by the next deadline in May, and is looking for the support of the local community to help him to achieve this.

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.”

Kevin hopes that those who went to the meeting on will become actively involved in pulling the proposal together, by helping to establish a vision for the new school and gather support from other parents to build it.

He said: “If 15 people had turned up I would have been staggered, so that about ten people came along, all of them parents, is pretty good, and governing bodies don’t tend to be any more than 15 any way.

“I’m pretty confident we can get the proposal together by May. It is pretty straightforward once you have the support of the community.”

Jen Slater, a mother of two from Winterbourne Avenue, is one of the people hoping to take part in developing the bid.

The 35-year-old hopes that people will soon realise how important the bid is.

She said: “I think these things take time and effort.

“My child is in Year 1 this year but after the struggle to get him in I am already worried about where he is going to go after primary school.

“A lot of parents are in that bubble thinking that it will all be sorted by the time their children get to that stage, but we need to be doing something now.”

For more information on the free school bid visit www.northswindon11to19.org.

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