Surge of support for Inspiration Trust plan for new Great Yarmouth high school
- Credit: Archant
Thousands of people have signed a petition in support of Great Yarmouth's new academy high school.
The Inspiration Trust remains tight lipped on where the proposed secondary school and sixth form will be located but on Friday tooka step closer to opening as they submit their formal bid to the Department for Education (DfE).
For the past few weeks, staff from the trust have been handing leaflets to parents and pupils outside the gates of Yarmouth primary schools, scouting interest and promoting their plans to build 'a brand new school in the centre town with cutting-edge facilities'.
Ian Burchett, who is poised to be principal of the new institution called Trafalgar College, said there had been a swell of support.
'We're incredibly confident that this will happen,' he said.
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'We've collected a thousand signatures in support of the school so far, not just from people who have children coming through the primary schools but a lot of people who see the buzz building around the redevelopment opportunities and the impact that a new school could have on the whole community.'
Mr Burchett said he had received letters of support from councillors and community leaders, as well as parents interested in the extended school day and 'enrichment programme' which the trust already has in place at Great Yarmouth Primary Academy.
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At the trust-sponsored GYPA, Year 5 and 6 pupils stay at school until 6pm taking part in different activities and study sessions. A similar a set up is expected at Trafalgar College.
As previously reported, the town is facing a stark shortage of secondary school places - the number of students is expected to climb to 1,400 within five years and Great Yarmouth High School's current capacity is less than 1,000.
The shortage of spaces has been described as 'a sore point since the 1980s' when Styles Secondary Modern, the Hospital School, secondary provision at Greenacre and Edward Worlledge, Gorleston Catholic School and Claydon School in Gorleston all closed down.
While it is not yet known where the proposed Trafalar College will be, the school specialising in maths and science is likely to be in or close to the town centre.
Mr Burchett said the trust is looking at three sites.
'As the school is still in it's proposal stage, that is commercially sensitive information so we can't say much more at the moment,' said Mr Burchett, adding: 'We have options; there are three sites in particular we're looking at.'
The DfE is expected to make a decision on whether it backs the new school by December. If approved, it could open in September 2016.
Until then, the trust - which was recently hit by now-dispelled accusations it had been tipped off ahead of Ofsted inspections - will continue to canvas would-be students and seek further support.
It will also continue its talks with Cobholm Primary and Stradbroke Primary in Gorleston.
Cobholm has been in special measures since March and, like Stradbroke, is consulting with parents and governors over Inspiration Trust sponsorship.
At Stradbroke, the move has been met with a mixed response - members of the National Union of Teachers who work at the school said they were 'very disappointed that, not only has the local education authority given up on us, but gave us no choice over our sponsor'.
Last week Stradbroke pupils came face-to-face with their counterparts at Great Yarmouth Primary Academy when the school's two student councils met in person.