Findings from Public Consultation released.
Plans for a Free School in Wye have been welcomed by the local community. Over 150 people including local residents, prospective parents, local schools as well as representatives from Ashford Borough Council and the Parish Council participated in the consultation which ran between 7 January and 18 February 2013.
During the consultation, members of the local community were invited to give their views on any aspect of the proposed school including its vision, curriculum, extracurricular programme, location, admissions policy and the way it might work with the local community.
The key findings were as follows:
- Most people responding agreed with the proposed vision for the school. In particular, they were impressed by the way in which the school will have high expectations of all its students.
- There was strong support for the proposed curriculum with many people commenting positively on how the curriculum will include a wide range of subjects which will be accompanied by a vibrant extracurricular programme.
- Many people identified significant opportunities for the school to interact with the local community. Local residents were particularly excited about being able to use the school buildings outside of school hours for adult education classes and other community group activities.
- Overall, respondents were very positive about how the Free School would raise achievement in the local area and recognised how the new school would spur other local schools to achieve even greater heights.
- In general, respondents were happy with the proposed governance arrangements but asked about the make-up of the Local Governing Body (LGB). During the consultation, United Learning and the Wye Free School Group assured respondents that the LGB would include strong local representation.
- The overwhelming majority of respondents felt that the admissions policy seemed fair and transparent and in line with other schools’ admissions policies.
Margaret Williams, Chair of the Wye Free School Group, said:
‘We were delighted that so many people have become interested in the new school and thank them for taking the time to participate in the consultation. It is very encouraging that the majority of the people who responded to the consultation supported our plans and we were particularly pleased that so many prospective parents came to find out more about the new school. They were brimming with suggestions of how the new school can best meet the needs of their children. Together with United Learning, we will now look carefully at all the suggestions made and start to take forward those which will benefit the school and the local community.’
The two main concerns expressed during the consultation focused around the permanent location of the school and the potential impact of increased traffic in the village. A minority of respondents were also concerned that the school might exceed 600 students.
Margaret Williams added:
‘We have listened carefully to people’s concerns about the possible location of the school as well as the potential increase in traffic and have already started to develop a travel plan for the school which seeks to minimise the impact of traffic on the village. We are confident that wherever the school is located, we will create an outstanding school that will benefit children in Wye and its surrounding villages for generations to come.
‘Our vision is to create a small school and we have no intention of the student body exceeding 600 students. Indeed, we could not increase the size of the school without consulting the local community since it was on the basis that we wanted to create a small school that the Department for Education gave permission for the school project to proceed in the first place.’
The report has been submitted to officials at the Department for Education who will ask Ministers to sign the Funding Agreement for the school.