Wednesday, 12 December 2012

East Reading School Report

Matt Rodda reports:
Labour wants to work with all interested parties to help provide a new school in East Reading. We think it is important to put aside party politics and to provide places for children.

I attended Rob Wilson’s meeting last night and it was interesting to listen to parents and hear more about the proposals.

Rob Wilson is proposing a four form entry free school managed by GEMS on a site within walking distance of much of Park Ward. The group who are working on this are trying to submit a bid with GEMS in early January, which unfortunately gives very little time to show parental support and deal with the other aspects of the bid.

There are concerns that the Department for Education may not approve it or ask for it to be rewritten – which may lead to the group applying for a later tranche of funding.

It was interesting that a number of parents asked questions of Rob Wilson and GEMS, questions asked included:

• What is in this for GEMS?
• Where is the site?
• How will it be built/converted in time?
• Why is there no sixth form?
• How will the school cater for ethnic minorities and what is their involvement?

There may also still be issues about finding/purchasing a site.

Paul Woodward reports:
Meeting was polite, largely because the proposal is so thin at the moment. Wilson admitted it was 50/50 whether it will get through. The GEMS reps were upfront about the project, accepting that, for them, it was largely about company promotion. The audience didn't swallow the "we just want to educate children" line they started off with.

Bottom line is that there's not so much money in private education, so they're looking to get a foothold in the public-funded sector. This project would be run as 'not for profit' but would in reality be a 'loss leader' for them.

The parents plan is to use a GEMS 'off the shelf' model. It'll be for 600 pupils and will teach the English bacc (they think they'll stand a better chance of success if they use the govt's 'flagship' qualification). They want to open in 2014. The application needs to be in by 4th Jan 2013.

No hint of where school will be sited.

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