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New Colchester secondary school 'to create 900 student places'

01/11/2016 Joanna

A new secondary school looks set to be built in Colchester under newly-announced plans from Essex County Council.

Following a public consultation over the summer, the council has selected plans for a new 900-pupil school as the preferred option for the former Alderman Blaxill School site, with the prospect of making it a free school among the potential strategies being discussed.

Other options that had been considered included a sixth-form and primary school, but both were discounted due to a lack of demand and existing or planned provision. However, the option of creating a 30-place pupil referral unit for primary school-aged pupils and key working housing for teachers is still on the table.

This comes as part of the council's wider strategy of meeting the growing demand for secondary school places, with £25 million spent creating 1,700 new school places in Colchester since 2013-14 to reflect its status as the fastest-growing town in Essex.

The new 420-place Camulos Academy opened on the former Severalls Hospital site in September, while the similarly-sized Braiswick Primary School accepted its first cohort of pupils a year earlier.

Work is currently underway to create 300 extra spaces at both the Stanway School and Philip Morant School.

Ray Gooding, Essex County Council's cabinet member for education and lifelong learning, said: "From 2017, we expect to see the growing number of children in primary schools feed through into the town's secondary schools, creating the need for hundreds more places in the coming years.

"The expansions at the Stanway School and Philip Morant School, together with proposals for a free school in north Colchester and these plans for the former Alderman Blaxill site, will create at least 16 new classes per year group and ensure there are enough places to meet demand."

This comes after recent data from the Department for Education indicated that attendance at schools in Essex has reached its highest level since records began.

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