Plans for a state boarding school for inner-city pupils in the heart of the Sussex countryside are being scaled down. This is from the Independent…
The Durand Academy, which wants to open the school on the site of a former special school in Stedham, near Midhurst, is dropping sixth-form provision for pupils from the original planning application.
The move is designed to give the application more chance of gaining the go ahead in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Villagers opposing the plans for the school – dubbed the state school “Eton” and supported by Education Secretary Michael Gove – say the move will still leave the school over budget – if the sixth-form plan is dropped and the school caters for 375 pupils instead of the original 625.
However, Durand Academy says it still intends to submit proposals for a sixth-form block at a later stage and is just removing them from the present application because more work needed to be done on them to make them acceptable.
Villagers claim that the revision to the planning application will make it less likely that Durand will meet their original deadline of opening the new school in September 2014. However, Sir Greg Martin, head of the existing Durand primary academy in Stockwell, south London – from which the proposal stemmed, said: “We fully intend to have the first students on site by September 2014 but of course have contingencies in place for any slippage in the timetable.”
He added: “Throughout the planning process Durand has been working closely with the local community and the South Downs National Park Authority to achieve the best possible secondary school application. Those detailed discussions are still under way.
“We knew we would have to work hard at this and we are now pushing ahead with final design tweaks to the main teaching and boarding accommodation before bringing the amended application to the planning committee as soon as possible.”
He added that the project was only opposed by a “minority of individuals” who were trying to derail it.
Are you disappointed to see this initiative scaled back (at least temporarily) or do you think a state boarding school of this type is a step in the wrong direction? Please share in the comments or on twitter…