Will Forster

Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate in Woking, Deputy Mayor of Woking and Councillor for South Woking Learn more

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Hoe Valley Free School

by willforster on 30 June, 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 – and that could easily happen without this Free School providing these much needed extra school spaces.


8 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.

  4. Mayford Resident says:

    ‘Emma’ I would like to see a huge secondary school put in your back garden as you seem so keen.
    I’m sure you’ll love the construction traffic, the traffic congestion, the pollution, the noise and the degradation of the village. Perhaps you could pick up the loss in my property price too?
    Great work ‘Emma’

    • willforster says:

      Emma, thank you for your comment.

      Firstly, the proposed Hoe Valley School is not a large one – the organisers want it to be quite small and only serve the local area. Hoe Valley would be almost half the size of Winston Church or Woking High.

      This issue is not about what you or I want – it is what our area needs. South Woking needs a local secondary school, we cannot have children going without a school place or having to go to a school in Camberley. If your concerned about house prices, house prices would fall dramatically if anyone that lived in your home could not get their child into a school.

  5. A parent says:

    As a parent whose child has been offered a place at
    Hoe Valley after not being allocated a space at any of our ‘preferences’, I cannot tell you how excited I am about this project. Not to mention the fact that Surrey has a desperate situation of lots of children and not enough secondary school places for them all to attend.

    Surely a new, modern secondary school built within walking distance to homes can only increase the value of properties, not devalue them? I live less than two miles away but would welcome the chance of a secondary school being built even closer to us because it would solve so many more issues than it would create. We cannot criticise our youth for bad behaviour and lack of education if they don’t even get a chance to access it. And we cannot only accept modernisation, expanding towns and housing as long as it’s not on our doorstep. It will always happen on someone’s doorstep and it happens where there is a need for it.

    I think Guildford should watch very closely and, perhaps, follow Woking’s lead. I am pretty sure this will not be the last Free School to open up in this county and that can only be a good thing.

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