Schools want to open a new college in Rutland

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Two schools in Rutland are joining forces in a bid to open a new sixthform college.

Catmose College in Oakham, and Uppingham Community College want to open a free school for pupils in the catchment areas of both schools and are preparing an application to the Department of Education.

The new facility, which will be called Harington School, would offer traditional A-levels and enrichment activities, such as opportunities for pupils to gain Duke of Edinburgh awards.

There is currently only one state-run post-16 college in the county, Rutland County College, in Oakham. Two independent schools Uppingham School and Oakham School both have sixthforms.

Catmose College principal Stuart Williams and Uppingham Community College principal Jan Turner say they are acting after listening to feedback from parents and pupils.

But the principal of Rutland County College, Vicky Crosher, said she did not believe another post-16 facility in the county was needed.

Mr Williams said: “The school will not compete with what is in place in Rutland already, but will complement it and offer an alternative to students.

“There is little on offer for students so many have to travel to Leicester or Peterborough for post-16 education, with substantially high travel costs, or choose the independent schools with high educational costs.

“We have about five sites that we’ve identified that could be used – two in Oakham, two in Uppingham and one in between.

“We have drawn on results from surveys and we believe this is what people want.

“The school will have its own board and will aim to serve the best interests of the Rutland community.”

Mrs Turner said the new facility offered an exciting opportunity.

“Both schools feel it’s needed,” she said. “It’s particularly important for students who have to travel quite considerable distances to have something more accessible.

“We want the county to be an exciting place for post-16 education.”

In 2010, Rutland County Council voted to create a new college for the county, Rutland County College, based at the former Tresham College site, in Barleythorpe Road. The college has since moved to a new £5.5m site in Barleythorpe.

The council chose Casterton Business and Enterprise College to run the new college and at the time, many people voiced concerns that Catmose College and Uppingham Community College were being ignored by the council.

Mrs Crosher, who is also principal of Casterton Business and Enterprise College, said: “It is good to see other schools, like us, are becoming aspirational and looking for the best for students.

“However, an outstanding facility already exists that provides for all students in Rutland. Rutland County College opened in 2010, catering for post-16 and has an offer that suits all abilities, not just the most able.”

Both Catmose College and Uppingham Community College are set to hold consultations with parents and pupils over the coming months.

A prospectus outlining the Harington School philosophy for sixthform education, its curriculum, its uniform and admissions criteria will also be published soon.

The New Schools Network has four windows per year in which to apply for a place on its development programme which advises the Department of Education and provides some financial support.

The schools intend to apply during the January round.

The schools have not revealed the estimated cost of the project as they are not sure whether they will have to purchase a new site or lease the land needed.

The school will offer exisiting teachers at Catmose College and Uppingham Community the chance to teach at post-16 level, as well as offering jobs to external qualified teachers.

Harington, one of the county’s oldest families based in Exton, has been chosen as the name for the school and the logo is based on the family crest.