Local parents group bid for free school funding

Parents at a public meeting on Tuesday heard that an application for a new faith-based secondary free school for Kingston is well under way.

The evening was hosted by former councillors Kevin Davis and David Campanale, founders of the Kingston Church Schools Foundation (KCSF). The KCSF is hoping to open a new co-educational secondary free school for the north Kingston area by 2014.

The prospectus for the new school, to be called the King Edwards School, released last month highlights the “particularly acute” need for school places in Kingston.

David Campanale, Founder of the KCSF, said: “As local parents we are aware of the issue and we want to see the choice of schools extended.”

The KCSF is made up of local residents, teachers, parents and church leaders.

Based on current projections 480 extra primary and secondary places will be needed in Kingston by 2018. Half of those places fall within the north Kingston area.

If the application for free school funding is successful, the day to day running of the school will be administered by the Woodard Academies Trust. There are currently 19 Woodard owned schools nationally and a further 22 affiliated schools.

Although Woodards runs several academies, this will be the first time Woodards will launch a new free school.

The proposed King Edwards School will offer five forms of secondary education with a faith based ethos. Entry to the school will be non-selective. Admissions will be based on geographical proximity to the new school.

There is a chance the school will be located outside the borough of Kingston. School sites being considered include Latchmere House and Cassel Hospital. The Department of Education (DfE) will consider two sites suggested by the KCSF but will make the final decision.

A second free school for north Kingston is currently being proposed by the Kingston Educational Trust (KET). Formed by Kingston University, Kingston College and Education Kingston, the KET has been working towards a new secondary school for Kingston for several years.

The KET held a meeting just down the road from the KCSF meeting on Tuesday night. The proposed KET secondary school also hopes to open in 2014.

Kevin Davis, Founder the KCSF, said: “We are not in competition with the KET. But we do rely on the DfE for funding, so we are in competition for that finite pot of money.”

Mr Davis said: “There is a chance that neither school will be approved by the DfE, that both will be approved by the DfE, or that one will be approved by the DfE.”

To get King Edwards off the ground the KCSF application requires signatures from 150 parents prepared to send their child to the school in 2014. The KCSF must also show a further 150 parents will commit for 2015.

John Balsdon, Director of Development at Woodard Academies Trust, told parents: “You can vote for both schools, there is no restriction. You won’t be held to account at all.”

The Kingston Church School Foundation plans to lodge its proposal at the start of January 2013. A decision from the Department of Education is expected by April 2013.

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