Government approval for 3 new free schools in Swindon

Plans for three new free schools in Swindon offering a total of 890 places have been given the green light by the government.

Oxford Brookes University
Oxford Brookes University – Swindon

The Department for Education has approved proposals for the 420-place Middle Wichel Church of England Academy Primary School – which will be part of the Wichelstowe development – and for the East Village Church of England Academy, another 420-place primary to be located in the New Eastern Villages.

A decision about where Brunel ASC Free School, a 50-place secondary for children with special educational needs, could be situated will be taken in due course.

Brunel will help to cater for the ever-increasing number of children locally who have special educational needs and will be the seventh school in the borough of Swindon that does so. It is not yet clear when the school will be open.

It is hoped that lessons will begin to be taught at Middle Wichel Academy from September 2018 and at East Village Academy in September 2020.

Applications to the government for the new free schools – schools set up established by an organisation or group of people, free of local authority control – were made in partnership between sponsors, who are responsible for the performance and finances of a school, and Swindon Borough Council.

The sponsor for Middle Wichel Church of England Primary School and for East Village Church of England Academy is the Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust while Uplands Educational Trust takes that role for the Brunel ASC Free School.

Money to build the schools will be provided by the government’s Education Fund Agency and through Section 106 developer contributions.

Councillor Fionuala Foley, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Swindon is one of the fastest-growing areas of the country, so it is fantastic news that we have secured nearly 900 much-needed school places.

“Getting to this significant point is the result of a huge amount of co-ordinated work and mutual support between council officers and academy sponsors.

“The announcement that there will be a new special school in the borough is particularly significant as there is locally a higher than average number of children with special educational needs.

“There is obviously still a significant way to go until teachers are educating children in these three schools, however I am sure that all involved are pleased to have got past the milestone of approval from the Department for Education.”