Authority says ‘no need’ 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
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A public consultation for a proposed new free school in Chorley has heard how there is ‘no need’ for another school.

The controversial Chorley Career and Sixth Form Academy is seeking permission to build an independent, state-funded school free from local authority control.

Last month the Gill Academy Trust, who are behind the scheme, announced plans to transform Lingwell House on Water Street into a school while new, purpose-built building is constructed in Chorley East.

These plans can only go ahead if they are given the approval by the Department of Education, who finished consulting on the plans on Friday.

As part of this consultation they sought views from interested parties including Lancashire County Council, who said they are ‘not convinced of the need’ for a new secondary school in the town.

Helen Denton, Lancashire County Council’s executive director for children and young people, said: “As the local authority responsible for planning sustainable school provision in Lancashire, we have submitted a response to the Department for Education about the plans to establish a Career and Sixth Form School in Chorley.

“Having looked at pupil numbers and statistical evidence for the local area, we are not convinced of the need for another secondary school in Chorley.

“We have received nothing but praise for the secondary schools in the Chorley area, which regularly exceed national targets for pupil attainment and are all rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.”

Free Schools are non-profit making schools which can be set up by a range of bodies from charities and universities to businesses or a group of parents.

The Gill Academy Trust proposals have angered heads at Chorley’s high schools, who joined forces earlier this year to object to the plans, saying there were sufficient places at county-controlled and faith schools to meet demands.

An academy spokesperson said an important part of their plans was creating a new ‘enterprise centre’ to help young people.

He said: “The important factor is that we have received considerable support from the community and businesses throughout our consultation as they are concerned that a town Chorley’s size does not have a sixth form and enterprise centre when other comparable towns do.

“If parents wish to know more they can come to our open event in the Latham Room at The Pines Hotel, on Saturday, May 5, between 10 and 11.30am, and then later between noon and 1.30pm.

“It will be an opportunity to find out about the exciting plans for the Chorley Career and Sixth Form Academy.”