Group is “convinced” new school will be achieved

AN AMBITIOUS bid to form a new school in Suffolk has moved a step closer following a meeting at Number 10.

Trustees of the Stour Valley Educational Trust (SVET), which is pushing for a free secondary school in Clare, met with Prime Minister David Cameron and Michael Gove, the Secreatary of State for Education, on Wednesday.

Following the meeting trustee Keith Haisman, who is also chair of Clare Parish Council, said a “critical” step had been taken, and the trustees were now “convinced” their plans would be approved, as long as the necessary legislation is achieved.

A statement issued by the trust said: “In conclusion, the trustees are convinced that, whilst the formal process is iterative and could take some months to complete, that process has now commenced and will result in Stour Valley Community School opening in September 2011 at the site currently occupied by Clare Middle School.

“We look forward to working with all parties to improve educational choice, diversity, quality and outcomes in the Stour Valley community on both sides of the Suffolk/Essex border around Clare.”

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The SVET was formed to achieve a free secondary school following an unnsuccessful attempt by the Campaign for Local and Rural Education (C.L.A.R.E.) to keep Clare Middle School open and run it as a secondary school.

The school is due to close in July 2011 as part of the school organisation review in the county.

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Parent Diana Sharp, chair of C.L.A.R.E., which now supports the trust, said the outcome of the meeting was “fantastic news”.

On the benefits of the free school, she said: “I think what it means for parents is they are now going to have a genuine choice of schools in which to send their children to.”

The closure of Clare Middle School would mean in the current situation students having to travel to Haverhill or Sudbury.

Graham Newman, cabinet member for children, schools, and young people’s services at Suffolk County Council, said: “In a way it’s quite easy establishing a new school, but it will be more difficult ensuring it gets continued support and an appropriate curriculum offer that will actually help the pupils of the areas go forward into later life.

“That’s the thing I’m slightly concerned about. We will have to see.”

David Forrest, headteacher at Sudbury Upper, this week criticised campaigners fighting to set up free schools.

He said the free schools propsed for Clare and Stoke by Nayland were not in the interests of students.

A spokesman for the Government said No 10 did not comment on private meetings.

The SVET is holding a public meeting in Clare at the middle school in Candendish Road at 7pm on July 21.

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