Church in bid to open school
A CHURCH has emerged as a surprise bidder in the race to take over a vacant school site.
King's Church International (KCI), based in Frances Road, Windsor, is vying to take control of the Holyport Manor School site, near Maidenhead.
It wants to turn it into an independent school for pre-school to Year 8 pupils, along with a community centre.
The church also submitted a planning application last week to the Royal Borough seeking permission to transform part of the ground floor of its Frances Road site into a school with the intention of having eight reception pupils and 13 pre-school pupils from September. The move follows a trial intake of eight pupils of pre-school and reception age, who started attending the church in April.
There are thought to be six bidders for the Holyport Manor site, in Ascot Road, but only two others have gone public with their plans.
Richard Beasley, KCI spokesman, said: "We believe the eight-acre site represents a hugely exciting opportunity for local residents.
"We have proposed a multi-purpose community use for the site, including a school. We also want to see the site used for adult training and to provide sporting facilities to benefit the wider community."
Deputy leader of the council, Simon Dudley, is part of a group bidding to demolish most of the site and rebuild it as Holyport Free School, while developer Michael Shanly and his wife Daniela Szmigielska have put in an offer to buy the site and reopen it as Beech Lodge School.
The church has written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles MP, voicing its concerns over the bidding process due to all members of the Cabinet declaring a personal interest in the item as they knew Cllr Dudley. Cllr David Burbage, leader of the council has also declared a personal interest in the item as he knows Mr Shanly.
Cllr Eileen Quick, lead member for children's services, said: "Obviously we cannot pretend we, Cabinet members, do not know Cllr Dudley, but all the correct procedures will be followed and he will be treated like any other prospective bidder for the site in the process."
The decision is expected to be announced at a Royal Borough cabinet meeting on Thursday, July 26.
This article appeared in Royal Borough Observer 22 Jun 12
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Jun 28, 09:51
Unlikely as it may seem, being a rival bidder for the Holyport Manor site (Beech Lodge School) I would like to stand in defence of Cllr Simon Dudley. For KCI to write to the Secretary of State and somehow discredit a very worthy and active member of our Local Authority seems rather 'sneery' and disingenuous. Clearly Simon Dudley knows the rules concerning Free Schools and is well within his rights to make an application for the site. We are all working on a level playing field and if the Christian School believes it can gain an upper hand by discrediting a competitor then I feel that is, ironically, rather un-Christian. We are all working towards improving educational outcomes for children, albeit in perhaps a less polarised way than a faith school advocates, and that should be the criteria by which the school is selected. I wish Simon Dudley and the other bidders the very best of luck and whoever is selected may it be the best outcome for the children. Perhaps that is why I am a Humanist.
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Jun 30, 11:29
It is difficult to know where the children would go after year 8 from the King's Church's proposed school as Maidenhead Schools change at year 6 and the Windsor schools are already fully subscribed. This and the fact that King's Church, whilst popular locally is not a main stream church with national educational resources to back it up make the bid seem unwise.
Conversely Mr Dudley's bid was originallt described as helping parents who wanted their children to board, but could no longer afford the fees appears to be targetted at a much more affluent intake than that originally proposed for "Free Schools" and with its boarding places Mr Dudley's school would not really cater for local children. The real shortage of school places is currently at Primary level so it is a wonder that the site is not actually proposed for either a straight through school from reception to 16 / 18 or a primary school.
The tax payer interested is of course for the site to be redeveloped, at a point when property prices have picked up, for housing or corporate use as that would maximise receipts - but pressuably a lot of Conservative members and donor live in this part of the world and wouldn't want that - indeed Bray Conservative Councillors originally opposed the new special school in Maidenhead because they didn't want this (the old special school site) site redeveloped.
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