Will Forster

Lib Dem County Councillor for South Woking and Borough Councillor for Kingfield, Westfield and Barnsbury Learn more

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Hoe Valley Free School

by willforster on June 30, 2014

The Department of Education has approved plans by a group of parents to set up a new secondary school and sixth form college in south Woking.

Following changes by the Coalition Government, parents are now allowed to bid to set up a school independent of local authority control – and a group of local parents are seeking to set up a so called ‘free school’ south of Woking.

The Hoe Valley Free School could be the first of it’s type in Woking Borough and only the second free school in Surrey.

I completely support the Hoe Valley plans – partly as it would right the wrong of my South Woking division losing it’s ‘local’ secondary school when Surrey County Council foolishly closed Highlands School in Bonsey Lane – but also as there is a rising population, both as a result of a rising birth and new housing developments.

Now that official approval has been given to the Hoe Valley Free School, the school group will now go into something called a ‘pre-opening’ phase with much more work being undertaken to secure a temporary, as well as a permanent site.

Parents in the Hoe Valley Group hope that the school will open in temporary accommodation in September 2015 and to be included in the County Council’s school admissions process in October 2014 for a Year 7 intake of 120 pupils.

Needless to say there is still a significant amount of work to get the school up and running – but the parents behind the Hoe Valley bid deserve a huge amount of praise for the work they have done to get this far.

As the local County Councillor I am pushing both the County Council and Woking Borough Council to support the Hoe Valley Free School find a suitable site.  We cannot have local school children going without a secondary school place that is accessible to them Рand that could easily happen without this Free School providing these much needed extra school spaces.


5 Responses

  1. Emma says:

    I would like to see the new Hoe Valley School built on the land along Egley Road now that it is going to be released from the green belt.

  2. John Faulkner says:

    A School that doesn’t have to employ qualified teachers! I do not think that a free school is the right solution.

    • Alex Holmes says:

      John, as one of the founders of the school I can assure you that this is a ‘freedom’ that we don’t intend to exercise. Any academy school has the same right – which is now well over half of all secondary schools nationally, including several locally. In the first years we will be recruiting mostly senior teachers that will become our heads of department as the school grows.

  3. Orchard says:

    Cllr Forster, what is your opinion on Emma’s suggestion above?

    • willforster says:

      The Council has not agreed to release the land from the Green Belt, or at least yet. The Council has received a consultants report that recommends Egley Road (amongst other land) is suitable to be removed from the Green Belt, but no decision has been made.

      I know many Mayford and other residents would object strongly to building on Egley Road. However, we desperately need a secondary school and a school would be much more acceptable on Egley Road than hundreds of homes.

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