And the winner is… – Gloucestershire County Council
Following a rigorous selection process, Balcarras School located in Charlton Kings has been confirmed by the Regional Schools Commissioner as the preferred sponsor for a new £30million school.
In February, Gloucestershire County Council invited interested parties to submit bids to run the new school after confirming plans to build the new school in the South of Cheltenham in Leckhampton.
The need for a new school in the town is to tackle the shortage of spaces in Cheltenham secondary schools. If nothing is done by 2019, all year seven places will be full and 128 children will be left without a place.
By 2021 this will increase to around 188 children without places, a figure that will continue to grow as each year passes, so it is important that the council provides places for the future demand.
Working with planners at Cheltenham the county council has earmarked land off Kidnappers Lane in Leckhampton as the preferred location for a new school. The council and Balcarras will now be actively encouraging the local community to take part in establishing the new school through a series of consultation events to get views on proposals put forward.
Cllr Lynden Stowe, cabinet member for economy, skills and growth, said: “I’m thrilled that the regional schools commissioner and Department for Education have agreed with our recommended sponsor.
“Balcarras has received an ‘outstanding’ judgement in each of its last four Ofsted inspections going back to 2001, which goes to show the quality of the education they offer.
“It is yet another really exciting step forward for the project and means we’re a little bit closer to a new £30m school to serve Cheltenham and the surrounding area.”
Cllr Richard Boyles, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We’ve said all along that there is a real need for additional school places in the south of Cheltenham.
“Now that we have a sponsor on board we can move the project forward and bring this new school to life.”
Cllr Iain Dobie, local member for Leckhampton and Warden Hill, said: “I’m sure parents living in Leckhampton and Warden Hill will welcome this decision.
“Balcarras is recognised as one of the very best schools in the whole of the South West.”
Speaking after finding out that the school had been selected, Head Teacher Dominic Burke, said: “We are delighted to hear that we have been selected to sponsor the new school. It’s a great responsibility to take on and one which we are hugely excited by. We are proud of Balcarras and the young people we serve in Charlton Kings and we now have the huge task of creating a new school on similar lines—a school where young people are totally engaged in their learning and actively enjoy everything that the school has to offer.
“We are looking forward to working closely with Gloucestershire County Council, an extensive collection of partner schools including Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Pittville, and members of the local community to deliver a new flagship school for south Cheltenham.”
For more information on the proposals, visit the dedicated web page at: https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/cheltenham-school-planning