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Parents pack out meeting about plans
PLANS to set up a free school in Sherfield-on-Loddon were greeted with delight by a crowd of parents who packed out Sherfield Park Community Centre.
Four teachers, who have all held senior roles within schools, convened the meeting in the hope of gaining support for a school of 620 pupils between the ages of four and 19, with classes of no more than 20 children.
Siobhan O’Connor, James Eagle, Simmi Kalsi and Jules Norman set up the Foresters Consortium in 2011 to take advantage of the Government’s free schools initiative.
At the meeting, they promised to teach a broad curriculum and have plenty of after-school activities.
They said they planned an extended school day, with a breakfast club at 7.30am and after-school clubs continuing until 6pm.
Vertical tutoring, where pupils of different ages are put in the same tutor group, could be an option and extra revenue could be brought in from opening the school gym up to the public in the evenings, parents heard. While the location of Foresters School has yet to be decided, the consortium expressed a desire to establish it in the Sherfield Park area. And they said it could be open as soon as September 2014.
Mr Eagle said: “We are not here to take over from other schools or to be derogatory about other schools, we are just here to offer another opportunity for yourselves and your children.” Mrs Norman said they needed to collect between 200 and 300 signatures in support of the scheme to get the green light.
Free schools, which are not controlled by a local authority, were introduced in 2010 making it possible for parents, teachers, charities and businesses to set up their own schools funded straight from central government.
A written plan for the entire school, including details of the curriculum, staffing, governors and development plans must be submitted by the consortium before January 2013.
Naomi Lewis, from Bramley, said “There is a real need for a school like this and I would be interested in sending my daughter there if it is as good as it sounds.”
A group of people tried to set up a free school in the Rooksdown area of Basingstoke, but failed to gain enough support earlier this year.