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New Wisbech secondary school gets Government backing in Department for Education's latest free schools scheme




Plans for a new secondary school for Wisbech have taken a massive step forward with the news the Government will pay for it.

Hopes of a new £23 million school located to the west of the town in the Barton Road area have been on the cards since Cambridgeshire County Council gave the proposals its backing in May 2018.

Today (Friday 5) the Department for Education announced the new Wisbech school was one of 21 new free schools approved in the latest wave of the scheme.

Plans are being drawn up for a new secondary school in Wisbech. (44284360)
Plans are being drawn up for a new secondary school in Wisbech. (44284360)

The Brooke Weston Trust, which already runs the Thomas Clarkson Academy, put in a bid for the school and so will be responsible for running the new facility.

Wisbech Town Council leader and county councillor Sam Hoy welcomed the news explaining plans for the school had been put on hold pending the outcome of the Government's decision.

Coun Hoy, who is vice chair of the county's children and young people committee, said: "This is great news. This announcement will save the county council between £20-25million because the Government will now pay for the school to be built.

The proposed site of the new secondary school in Wisbech. (44284348)
The proposed site of the new secondary school in Wisbech. (44284348)

"If the bid had been unsuccessful then it would have been the county council's responsibility to build it. Everything has been on hold, but now we will be able to start to move forward with a planning application.

"We have no date yet when work will start, or when the school will be ready, but this is a massive step forward.

The project will eventually also include a new primary school and a specially built building for the town's Unity School, which provides education for children with specialist behavioural needs.

This site off Gadds Lane/Barton Road in Wisbech is earmarkedfor a new secondary school. (44284440)
This site off Gadds Lane/Barton Road in Wisbech is earmarkedfor a new secondary school. (44284440)

The 600-place secondary school will be built on land owned by the council and will serve the current pupil population in the villages to the north and west of Wisbech and those living in Wisbech town west of the River Nene. It will also enable the council to meet the future need for places arising from new residential developments in the town.

It will have a four form entry to start with but will have the potential to expand.

The site on the western edge of the town off Barton Road was one of a number of potential options in and around Wisbech considered in detail by the council.

This site off Gadds Lane/Barton Road in Wisbech is earmarkedfor a new secondary school. (44284443)
This site off Gadds Lane/Barton Road in Wisbech is earmarkedfor a new secondary school. (44284443)

It was selected for the following reasons: It is well-placed to respond to the housing growth proposed in the Fenland Local Plan and the proposed Garden Town - supporting the strategic development of the town and responding to future population growth.

It has the potential to reduce the number of cross river trips in Wisbech from west to east as the catchment area of the Thomas Clarkson Academy includes the area of the town to the west of the river and the villages to the north and west of the town.

It is the only one large enough to include purpose-built accommodation for 60 pupils with Social Emotional and Mental Health needs. This will enable the TBAP Unity Academy to relocate from their current leased site in Wisbech.

It is well-placed to respond to the housing growth proposed in the Fenland Local Plan and the proposed Garden Town - supporting the strategic development of the town and responding to future population growth.

It has the potential to reduce the number of cross river trips in Wisbech from west to east as the catchment area of the Thomas Clarkson Academy includes the area of the town to the west of the river and the villages to the north and west of the town.

It is the only one large enough to include purpose-built accommodation for 60 pupils with Social Emotional and Mental Health needs. This will enable the TBAP Unity Academy to relocate from their current leased site in Wisbech.

Andrew Campbell, Chief Executive of Brooke Weston Trust, said: “We are very pleased to learn we have been successful in our application to open a new school in Wisbech.

“Everyone at Brooke Weston Trust is looking forward to working with local stakeholders as we embark on this exciting new development for the town. The new school will be a welcome addition to the BWT family, joining our other two ‘Good’ schools in Wisbech, Thomas Clarkson Academy and Peckover Primary School.

“We look forward to working with the Department for Education to formalise the details and sharing more information about our plans with the community in the near future.”

The Trust’s proposal was to create a new inclusive 11-16 comprehensive school for up to 600 students. This would create much needed additional school place capacity in the region for 120 students each year. The proposal did not include a sixth form.

The new school would work in close partnership with Thomas Clarkson Academy and is expected to specialise in STEM subjects.

Brooke Weston Trust will now work with the DfE and the local authority to identify a suitable location and agree a timeline for opening the new school.



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