Bid for new free school on Great Yarmouth primary site could soon be lodged

PUBLISHED: 14:25 23 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:08 23 May 2018

Alderman Swindell School.

Alderman Swindell School. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

A bid could soon be lodged with the government to build a new free school on the site of a closed primary in Great Yarmouth.

Alderman Swindell Primary, on Beresford Road, will close and merge with North Denes Primary, Norfolk County Council confirmed at the end of last year.

There has been speculation over what would happen with its site, with plans mooted to use the space for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

And in papers from the council’s children’s services committee, held on Tuesday, officers confirmed plans to submit a bid to build a new free school.

MORE: Council study explores option of creating complex needs school after primary closes

The paper says: “The local authority SEND Sufficiency Strategy identifies the need in this area and the next step will be an application for a free school.

“If it were to be agreed this should ensure that sufficient additional funding would be made available for whatever build necessary.

“The local authority is dependent on the government’s free school application rounds and the latest wave this year has opened this month and closes on September 6, 2018.”

All new schools must open as free schools, a type of academy. There are currently seven in Norfolk, including the Wherry School, in Norwich for children with autism, and Trafalgar College, in Great Yarmouth.

The council has said the next step would be for children’s services officers to work with the Department for Education and New Schools Network to develop the bid.

They say they would hope to do so via the “local authority presumption route”, which sees interested parties - such as academy trusts - apply for the contract to run the school.

MORE: Council writes to government with ‘strong concerns’ over listing of Norfolk pub and impact on new-build school

The demand for places at SEND schools in Norfolk significantly outweighs supply, with parents calling for more provision.

Penny Carpenter, chairman of children’s services committee, said the council had always preferred a school for children with complex needs for the site.

“This is about the children of Norfolk, and we know that there is a need for these places to be provided in their locality so that children don’t have to travel out of the local area to go to school,” she said.

She said £500,000 had been put aside for redevelopment of the site.

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