No base for free school

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Dr. Bulvinder Michael wants to set up an Academy in Chorley
PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Dr. Bulvinder Michael wants to set up an Academy in Chorley

School children are set to be taught in temporary classrooms at a proposed new free school in Chorley.

The Gill Academy Trust is hoping to set up the Chorley Career and Sixth Form Academy.

But after failing to find a suitable location in time for their hopes to intake in September, children are set to be taught in temporary accommodation for a year while a purpose-built school is built in the town.

Bosses behind the school are remaining tight-lipped over where they intend to build the school, but the Guardian understands a planning application for a site in Chorley South East ward is due to be submitted in the coming days.

It is also thought a site in Chorley North East ward will be used as a temporary site for the school.

Chorley Council’s depot on Bengal Street had been earmarked for the development, before a decision was made not to press ahead with it there.

Principal designate Dr Bulvinder Michael said: “This is about the future of our young people and ensuring that they achieve the very best outcomes in life and that starts with a first class education.

“The free school will have smaller classes, outstanding teaching and an education package tailored to the individual need of each student.”

A public consultation was launched with representatives from the school canvassing opinions at various locations in the town.

But campaigners against the scheme say the move will mean diverting funds away from Chorley’s existing schools.

An open letter had been sent from headteachers at all six Chorley high schools strongly opposing the plans.

Alan Whittaker, former chairman of Lancashire County Council’s education committee, said: “I am appalled at the suggestion that the school might get the go ahead.

“The points that have been made by local headteachers, parents, and people who know something about education are all, as far as I’m aware, very negative towards the proposal.

“If this gets the go ahead it would mean up to £3m will come out of existing schools budgets across the borough.”

The proposed school would also eventually house Chorley’s only sixth form, if it is approved.

Dr Michael said: “The feedback we have had from parents and members of the public has been great. We are keen to speak to as many people as possible to ensure that the new school is placed firmly at the heart of Chorley.”

The consultation will continue at Chorley Market on April 3 and 5.