PARENTS, headteachers and residents are being asked to take part in council-led consultation which hopes to tackle the town’s growing crisis in places for secondary school.

It is estimated that an extra 150 secondary school places will be needed in Swindon in the next five years which has sparked a council consultation into now this can best be achieved.

In the past six years the council has created 676 new primary school places to combat the borough’s growing population. This has seen eight new schools and eleven 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.

The council is keen to hear the views of the public, especially the parents of young children who will be affected by the decisions that are made, on issues, including the building of new schools against the expansion of existing schools, the level of reliance in future on school places outside the borough and whether solutions should be borough-wide or more localised.

The authority is also keen to canvass views on the extent to which pupils should be transported around the borough to use up all surplus places, and if new schools were to be proposed, the community’s view on whether these should be free schools The parents of all children known to be entering secondary school after 2018 will receive a letter inviting them to take part, and headteachers of all current secondary schools in the town are also being fully consulted.

Councillor David Renard, the leader of Swindon Council said: “The council is required to plan for, and then provide, school places.

“This is a complex task and many factors can affect the final decisions that will have to be made. It’s essential that we have the best possible information on which to base our decisions, and the views of the parents whose children will be most affected are clearly vital to the process.”

In August the Adver reported a steering group was being formed in north Swindon to start the ball rolling to create a free school. It was hoped the group could start collecting signatures to show a demand for a new secondary school in the area.

A number of public consultation meetings will be held in each of the council’s seven locality areas, where council officers will be on hand to answer questions and gather opinions: The consultation details are on the council’s website at including a survey questionnaire. It will run until Friday, November 22.