Free school plan takes another step forward
PLANS to open a free school in Portishead to deal with a lack of school places in the town have moved a step forward.
An application drawn up by the Village Quarter Parents Action Group and educational visionary Marcus Orlovsky for a new free school in the town was submitted to the Department of Education in January.
The application – which sets out in detail plans for the new school – has now moved forward to the interview stage.
Members of the action group are to travel to the Department for Education (DfE) in London next Wednesday to meet with officials to explain in more detail their plans.
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If the plans get the green light funding for the new school will be made available by the DfE.
Village Quarter Parents Action group spokeswoman Laura Haseldine said: "We are delighted to have made it through to the interview stage.
"Out of all the applications which are assessed only a few make it through to this stage.
"We will be travelling up to London to present our application and answer questions.
"We are starting to feel that the free school may actually happen now and we have lots of support for the new school and positive comments and feedback.
"Local people are excited at the prospect of this new school."
One of the locations currently being considered is unused office blocks in Newfoundland Way although other sites across the town are also being investigated.
The school would open in September 2014, initially with 60 places for reception class students.
There would also be 30 class places for year one and year two students..
It is hoped that over the years the school would grow, eventually offering 420 additional class places for students in the town.
The application also includes feedback from parents, statistics regarding the lack of school places in Portishead and projections about how the town is likely to grow.
It also features details about how the action group was formed and how the growth of Portishead had led to insufficient school places in the town.
A special trust – the Village Quarter School Trust – has already been set up which would run and administer the school, appoint staff and agree the curriculum.
The move to look at setting up a free school in Portishead follows mounting concern about the lack of class places in the growing town.
This year more than 20 students failed to get a place at a primary school in the town, with some students now travelling to class in Pill or Clevedon.
Schools in Portishead have already been expanded since 2010 but statistics have revealed that there will be a shortfall of 103 school primary spaces in the town by 2015.
If the free school plan gets the green light, it would be the first school of its kind to open in North Somerset.