Kingston Council-backed free school reaches next stage of funding bid

Kingston Guardian: Patricia Bamford at the north Kingston centre Patricia Bamford at the north Kingston centre

A Kingston Council-backed free secondary school bid has beaten a church bid to the next stage for funding after gaining the backing of more than 800 parents.

A new six-form entry school on the site of the North Kingston Centre in Richmond Road has been submitted to the Government by the Kingston Educational Trust, backed by Kingston University, Kingston College and Kingston Council.

Should the proposals be approved, it will open for the start of the 2014-15 school year.

So far, 837 parents have registered their support for the school.

Councillor Patricia Bamford, lead member for children and young people, said: “These are exciting plans for a school that is for the whole community, at the heart of the community.

“It will be the borough’s first free school and will have many distinctive features.

“The borough already has first-rate schools, and the north Kingston school will be an excellent addition, giving children the best possible education.”

However, not everyone is happy with the proposals.

Ham resident Christine Arnold attends the North Kingston Centre every week for tai-chi and chi-kung classes.

The retired 72-year-old said: “I fully understand that parents want a school in north Kingston, but there are so many issues.

“It’s the fact that adult education and everything that goes on at the North Kingston Centre is very, very valuable.

“It gives people who are retired or anyone else a reason to get up in the morning and do something. It takes you out into the world.

“There’s also a school on each side of the building [Tiffin Girls and Fern Hill Primary] and I worked out it would mean 3,300 children coming and going along Richmond Road at the same time.

“There are huge problems with parking and traffic congestion anyway.

“I think it’s the wrong place for the school.” A decision is expected in May.

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