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Hopes for two free schools in Fenland

GV of Meadowgate School Wisbech ANL-160331-142917009
GV of Meadowgate School Wisbech ANL-160331-142917009

Fenland children could be learning in new classrooms if two sets of plans for free schools get the thumbs-up from education chiefs.

The Department for Education will be looking at bids to build Government-funded schools from the Meadowgate School in Wisbech and Active Learning Trust for Chatteris.

Meadowgate is currently massively over-subscribed with 158 pupils on its books and has not been able to accept children since September last year.

This means Fenland youngsters are having to travel to Ely or Huntingdon to get a special school place.

The school is running a consultation ahead of submitting an application in September.

It is hoped to build a new school, which will specialise in autism, behind the existing buildings.

Headteacher Jackie McPherson said: “We feel the moral obligation where we need to educate local children and it is awful but we can’t meet the need of everyone who wishes to have a place.

“This means some children are waiting longer in mainstream schools, who are doing a very good job of meeting their needs, but it puts pressure on them.

“Or, they are having to travel outside their area, which is not good for young children.

“The free school is a way of increasing capacity for special needs in Wisbech.”

Active Learning Trust, which runs Kingsfield Primary at Chatteris, submitted a bid for a new free school earlier this year.

The trust is hoping to create a new primary school and nursery – which could open as soon as September next year – if the bid is approved.

The new school could start with 30 reception children but numbers could increase to 60 a year as the site grows.

Trust chief executive Gary Peile said: “There is a need in Chatteris for additional places. The bid is still in the very early stages and there is a long process to go through.”

l See page 10 for the full story on Meadowgate’s plans for a new school.

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