Free school team outlines plans at public meeting

Executive principal of Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust Mark Woods speaks at the public meeting
Executive principal of Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust Mark Woods speaks at the public meeting
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The group behind a proposed new free school in Stamford said they were pleased with the response to a public meeting where they outlined their plans.

About 100 people turned out to hear about plans for a free school in Stamford at the public meeting, which was held on Friday last week at Stamford Arts Centre.

The team behind Stamford Free School presented their proposal for a four form secondary school. They want to open the school for 120 Year 7 pupils in September 2015.

The school, which would cater for 720 pupils by 2021, would be run in partnership with the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust, which already runs three schools in Cambridgeshire and is about to open a fourth.

People at the meeting were told the school would benefit from the expertise and experience of the trust, which runs one of the most successful schools in Cambridgeshire, Swavesey Village College. The school received an outstanding rating at its latest Ofsted inspection.

Stamford Free School eventually hopes to become a teacher training school. These schools play a leading role in supporting the development of staff and other schools, but schools can only apply for this once they achieve two outstanding Ofsted ratings.

The timing of the school day has not been set but the group is looking at the school day running until 4.30pm with optional extended learning running until 5.30pm.

The group, made up of Stamford-based parents, were introduced. They are: Kevin Brooks, Alison Timson, Louise Warren, Jeremy Ball, David Allen and Daniel Evans.

The project’s educational specialists were also introduced. They are executive principal of the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust Mark Woods, and former headteachers and educational consultants Roger Moore and Glynn Rawlins.

Dealing with the business side of the project are Duncan Pickering and Robbie O’Driscoll, who are experienced in supporting free school projects.

Mr Brooks said at the meeting: “We passionately believe that Stamford deserves anther secondary school. We passionately believe there is room and demand for another secondary school and with the people we are working with we can deliver and outstanding secondary school.

“It is about the opportunity of introducing a fantastic new school. And the chance to build a new school from the ground up, to build something a bit special which differs from anything in this area.”

The Stamford Free School team explained that the proposals will need to be submitted to the Department for Education, which they are aiming to do in January.

The group, which is working closely with Burghley Estate, said it is currently looking at three sites in the town for the new school, with a new-build the preferable and more likely option.

After the meeting, lead proposer Daniel Evans said: “I think it went pretty well. We were quite pleased with the turnout.

“Our aim is to be as open and honest with everyone, it was not a sales pitch.

“It has been our plan from day one to get the top people on board. We never wanted it to be a group of parents running the school.

“If we had not be able to find people of the calibre which we have managed then we would not be going through with it so quickly.”

Mr Evans said the goals of everyone on board was to “change pupils lives for the better and provide a great education”.

Mr Evans said the group’s plans to secure a location are well advanced of most groups applying to become free schools.

In April the group revealed plans to apply for Government funding to set up a free school and since the idea was first publicised, parents of more than 1,000 children have registered their support.

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