Pleas made to bring forward opening of new 1,000-place school
PUBLISHED: 16:30 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:28 17 April 2019
Urgent calls have been made by Colchester's MP to bring forward the opening of a new school for more than 1,000 pupils - after parents expressed disappointment over its apparent delay.
Trinity College, a new 1,170-pupil facility in north Colchester, was given the go ahead in 2016.
Essex County Council chiefs say it will not open until September 2021, which has sparked anger among families who moved to the area so their children could attend the new school.
Concerned parents claim there had been suggestions it would open in 2019 – and they want it to be ready for the September 2020 intake, given several nearby schools were oversubscribed this year.
Some children are already having to get two buses to school, they said.
However, the council has denied any delay in the opening of the all-through institution, which would join The Gilberd School and Colchester County High School for Girls as part of the Alpha Trust.
It is earmarked for the Chesterwell housing estate in Mile End.
Now, Colchester MP Will Quince has penned a letter to education secretary Damian Hinds, the Alpha Trust's chief executive Gillian Marshall, and the council's education cabinet member Ray Gooding.
In it, he describes the situation as “urgent”, and emphasises the need for Trinity College to be built before 2021.
“Essentially, I'm asking if the opening of this new school can be brought forward,” he said.
“A lot of families have moved to Chesterwell so their children can be in the catchment area.
“It needs to be sped up, and I've heard from quite a few people now how difficult it is currently to get their children to school.
“It's far from ideal and people are right to be concerned, it creates uncertainty about their children's education.
He added: “I'm now waiting to hear back about what's going to happen next.”
Parent Nicola Chenery said: “We are as a community trying to get Trinity School built ready for the oversubscribed year group starting in September 2020.
“Some children are having to take up to two buses to get to school every day, and some of these are less desirable schools.
“This is not acceptable. We need a local school for our local children.”
Mrs Chenery lives in the catchment area for The Gilberd School, which recently changed its admissions policy to prioritise children of teaching and non-teaching staff alongside siblings.
Children of teaching and non-teaching staff are now given priority alongside siblings, the school's website says, and 28 places are also being given to musically gifted students, subject to passing an aptitude test.
For the 2019-20 academic year, 375 parents picked The Gilberd as their first choice with just 312 places available.
An Essex County Council spokesman said: “Pupil forecasts across Essex are constantly monitored and we can confirm there are sufficient school places in Colchester.
“Since 2013 The Gilberd School, Philip Morant School and The Stanway School have been expanded to ensure there are sufficient secondary school places in the town.
“Paxman Academy will open in September 2019 to cater for further growth in the south and west of the town and Trinity academy is planned to open in 2021 to cater for the growth in the north of the town.
They added: “There is no delay expected to the scheduled opening of Trinity College and the opening dates match the increased demand for places in their respective areas.”
Secondary school places are still available at Philip Morant and Colchester Academy for entry in September 2019, council bosses added.
Representatives for The Alpha Trust, which includes The Gilberd School, have been asked to comment.