Government rejects £4m primary school proposal

PUBLISHED: 14:00 01 June 2013

Artist impression of Priory Community School Academy's new primary school.

Artist impression of Priory Community School Academy's new primary school.

Priory Community School Academy

A WORLE school has had its plans for a primary school rejected by the Government's Department for Education - despite parents calling out for more places.

Priory Community School in Queensway had got through to the final interview stage of the financial application, to set up a free school on its site.

But the Government rejected the £4million proposal, which would have made Priory the first establishment of its kind in North Somerset to educate children right through from the ages of four to 16.

Education Secretary Michael Gove dismissed the idea – which would have seen a new primary school opened in September next year - due to a lack of demand and lack of primary expertise.

The decision came alongside the approval of three other free schools in the South West, including a new business school at Weston College.

Free schools are state-funded and independent of local authority control. They also have the freedom to decide the length of the school day and term, the curriculum, and how they reward their teachers and spend their money.

Neville Cole, principal of Priory, said: “This was disappointing for our community, who clearly want a new primary school in the area. The demand is certainly there.

“We teach our students not to give up so we will keep going and we will make this happen.”

Plans for the primary school had received backing from Weston’s MP John Penrose as well as parents, and more than 400 people had liked a Facebook page calling for the new school to be accepted.

Now Priory plans to work with North Somerset Council on a scheme to create a primary school on its land to make an all-through school by 2015.

Mr Coles added: “It’s the right thing to do for our area and we are now working with the council in a new joint bid to central government. This is not the free school route. Priory would become a three to 16-year-old ‘all through’ academy.

“We really do thank our parents for their continued support with our plans.”

The school will also complete its plans for a £1.3million sports village on site by next March, and has just opened its £1.3million Sir Richard Branson centre.

Priory bosses are hoping the Big Worle Project - which has been given money to invest across Worle - may become involved to use some of the £1million to make this an even bigger community sport project.

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