New academy set for council site?

Dr. Bulvinder Michael wants to set up an Academy in Chorley
Dr. Bulvinder Michael wants to set up an Academy in Chorley

Chorley Council’s depot site could be transformed into a new academy after plans were rubber-stamped by the Government.

The governors of the Chorley Career and Sixth Form Academy this week revealed it will be located close to the town centre and will offer secondary education for 11 to 16 year olds as well as creating the first sixth form college in the town.

The project is one of only 55 free schools announced by the Government for 2012 and an open evening is expected to be held before the end of the month.

However, the Guardian has now learned that Chorley Council has been in talks to let its Bengal Street site, where there are offices, garages and storage for frontline vehicles.

Coun Kevin Joyce, who has responsibility for the council’s buildings, said: “We have been approached by the people behind the free school bid about leasing our Bengal Street site.

“We have been looking to rent out this building to reduce our costs so it is something that the council will consider.

“The council would be able to accommodate the office-based staff in our two other town centre buildings, but we would need to find a new site for the depot to store equipment and the vehicles overnight.

“The decision about whether someone rents the site who it is and alternative sites for the depot will be decided by councillors.

“The key message for residents is that whatever happens there will be no reduction in the excellent services provided by our frontline staff.”

Reacting to the news of Government backing, Dr Bulvinder Michael, who has been the driving force behind the proposals, said: “The academy will be the only school in Chorley to provide an outstanding education from year seven all the way to sixth form.

“Through small classes of under 20 and personalised career and learning pathways for students of all abilities, the academy aims to achieve success with every student from all backgrounds.

“In addition, the academy will provide an extended school day, Saturday enrichment and an extended summer school programme to ensure an exceptional provision in education. We are offering students and parents something different.”

Dr Michael said the proposals had already received more than 500 expressions of interest.

As a free school, the academy has the freedom to choose its own curriculum provided it is balanced and broadly based.

However, all pupils must be taught English, mathematics and science and a provision for the teaching of religious education is required.

Coun Alan Cullens, who will be the Chair of Governors, added: “It is excellent news for our community. Sixth form provision has long been overdue in Chorley.

“We would like to work closely with all members of the community to develop innovative ways to improve the life chances of our young people.

“We will be consulting extensively to ensure that the academy provides best value for money and makes a real different to the community.”

The September 2012 intake will be for 60 year seven children and 60 sixth form students.

A large number of sixth form academic subjects will be offered and a further 40 places will be created through apprenticeships or enterprise programmes.

To register interest or for more information visit: www.chorleycareeracademy.co.uk