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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Strong interest in school amid bid to drop fees

A PRIVATE school has been inundated with interest from families since announcing it is bidding to be become Cumbria’s first free school.

Chetwynde School will apply to convert to become a government funded independent school – or free school – and if approved it would no longer be a fee-paying institution.

The Barrow school, which teaches primary, secondary and sixth form students, wants to change its status in September 2014 so it can offer its independent education free of charge and secure the long-term future of the school.

It would receive funding from the government based pupil numbers.

Chetwynde would grow from around 200 pupils to around 500, which is the maximum capacity for the school now.

Headteacher Russell Collier said: “The response has been very, very strong.

“There have been hundreds of enquires and people signing the forms to show an expression of interest in the school.

“I’m very pleased that a large amount of people from the local community would value their children joining Chetwynde School and the education we provide.”

Mr Collier said Chetwynde has an expression of interest form which can now be submitted directly through its website, and it is continuing its programme of informal community events.

A North-West Evening Mail online poll asked the public: “If Chetwynde became a free school and scrapped its fees, would you consider sending your child?” The result was 59 per cent yes and 41 per cent no.

Cumbria County Council, the local education authority, has said while a free school would offer more parental choice, there are surplus places at schools in the Barrow area and it could impact on them.

A spokesman said: “If successful the additional places at Chetwynde will clearly give parents in the area greater choice.

“However there are already surplus school places in the Barrow area and creating even more will inevitably impact on existing schools.’’

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