New School Consultation
Gloucestershire County Council has identified a future shortfall in primary and secondary school places in the Cheltenham area. After extensive discussion, the trustees of Balcarras Academy Trust have agreed unanimously to produce a sponsorship bid for a new all through school to meet this need.
A number of the primary schools in the town are full and many have already expanded in recent years. The situation at secondary level is similar. This year, for the second time, we have agreed to take an additional class in order to help meet the increase in need. In addition, several Cheltenham secondaries have expanded permanently or soon will. However, forecasts by the county council show that despite these changes demand will far outweigh supply by 2020.
We are therefore proposing to develop a bid for a new school to help provide the places that will ensure parents in Cheltenham have the choice of high quality education for their children. Our proposals will see us providing excellent education across the full age range, in an all through school. This will cover from reception to sixth form, offering pupils and parents alike more choice and the security of places available into the future.
Balcarras is committed to providing an excellent education to all our local community, including those living well beyond our doorstep. By any measure we are an outstanding school. We share our expertise by working closely with many other schools, either in direct partnership, or via our Teaching School Alliance and Maths Hub: both of which are of national significance and extremely successful initiatives.
We are delighted that several other schools have offered, not just to support our bid, but to collaborate with us in the planning and implementation of the new school. They include Pittville School, St James’ Primary School and Cheltenham Ladies’ College.
On September 4th we will be launching a public consultation, to inform our bid, to create a new 4-18 all through school for Cheltenham. With Balcarras sponsoring this exciting project, we expect to grow the new school so that it mirrors our comprehensive values, achieves similar levels of success and, in time, develops its own identity within a new multi-academy trust incorporating both it and Balcarras School.
We want to hear what local parents, children, schools and other interested parties think about this idea. To this end we will be holding a number of consultation sessions about our plans and invite all those in the community to contribute their thoughts and ideas.
CONSULTATION SESSION 1 Wednesday 13th September, Balcarras School 5pm-7pm
CONSULTATION SESSION 2 Monday 25th September, St James’ Primary School 5pm-7pm
You are very welcome to come along at any time between 5pm and 7pm to look at elements of the bid and to meet with staff and governors. If you are not able to attend either event then please do fill in a questionnaire and send it to the school. The consultation documents will go live from Monday 4th September.
The consultation period will close on Friday 6th October 2017
Alternatively you can fill in a paper version and send it to the school.
Explanation of the questions
We hope that the questions on the consultation are straight forward. However the last question might be a little confusing. This question has to be asked in any consultation about the opening of a new school. The creation of a new school has to be authorised by the Secretary of State for Education. The legal mechanism by which this is done is the signing of a funding agreement by the Secretary of State and the trustees of the new school. In our case we are proposing to set up a Multi Academy Trust comprising of Balcarras and the new school. This trust will have responsibility for both schools.