PARENTS and villagers have been told to fight and convince Bucks Council to re-open a closed-down Burnham school.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service previously reported a working group from the Burnham Parish Council has been urging Bucks Council to re-open the shutdown E-ACT Academy in Opendale Road to serve the village’s children.

The school closed down in 2019 by the Secretary of State after it was rated ‘inadequate’ and saw a significant decrease in pupil numbers. The group wants it re-opened with a new lick of paint and new management.

They say Burnham is the only location in Buckinghamshire with a grammar school but with no non-selective secondary school.

READ MORE: Bucks Council urged to reopen Burnham secondary school

The group claims the grammar school only serves 30 per cent of its student population whereas the remaining 70 per cent who don’t pass the 11+ have to go to Maidenhead or other areas miles away, causing parents to fork out up to £1,100 in travel costs.

Cllr Julie Ward, deputy cabinet for education and skills, previously said the council’s data shows there are already enough school places in Burnham and parents “choose” to send their children to other schools, such as in Maidenhead.

A packed room of parents and villagers at Burnham Park Hall attended a meeting on Tuesday, June 21, to hear an update from the working group and what are the next steps to convince Bucks Council to change its mind.

Royal Borough Observer: Burnham parents and villagers attended the forum to hear an update on the school proposalBurnham parents and villagers attended the forum to hear an update on the school proposal

Burnham parish councillor and chair of the working group Ekta Kaur Ross said it was “time to shift gear,” saying the council has “ignored” their data and evidence to justify a new secondary school.

She said: “This is not just a fight for parents and students, this is for all of us. This is relevant to the whole community.

“It cannot be morally correct to push our children across the border to another authority. ‘You educate them for us. Not our problem, mate.’

“That’s what Bucks Council is telling us. They are quite happy with the status quo.”

Residents were told the proposed school could be a community school that would be managed by the nearby Burnham Grammar School. It will also provide adult education, skills-based training, and sport amenities that are available to hire for local clubs.

Royal Borough Observer: Dr Andrew Gillespie (standing)Dr Andrew Gillespie (standing)

Meanwhile, Dr Andrew Gillespie, headteacher of Burnham Grammar School, said the school would need at least 150 students but ideally needs 180 to give it more “wiggle room”.

He said because there will be large-scale housing developments in Maidenhead and Slough, it could cause Burnham children to be “isolated” from applying to those secondary schools as those out-of-village schools could be oversubscribed.

When asked how the proposed school will be different from the failed one, Dr Gillespie said: “It’s not rocket science. We will keep it simple and have a very, very clear vision for the school and what we can offer.

READ MORE: Burnham MP Joy Morrissey is "keen" to see village school plans

“We are sat right on the edge of the largest trading estate in Europe, and we need to harness the expertise from the trading estate to add vocational elements to the offer of the school and that vocational element will then lead to jobs for children in Burnham on the trading estate and further afield.”

Parents and villagers were urged to sign the working group’s petition and write to Bucks Council leader Martin Tett and Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi to demand a new secondary school.