Bid for new North Devon school goes to Westminster

Parents of Route 39 working for a for new secondary school in the region makes it to formal government interview to decide if their application will get funding.

PARENTS have travelled to London for the next major step in their bid to secure a new 500-place secondary school in North Devon.

Four members of the Route 39 spent more than an hour at the Department of Education in Westminster for a formal interview to assess their bid for funding to construct a school between Welcombe and Bucks Cross.

The application for a “free school” seeks funding to create a new comprehensive with sixth form. Free schools are similar to academies, funded directly by the government and free to set their own curriculum, staff pay and most aspects of how they are run.

The Route 39 team has been working on the project for more than a year and consists of mostly local parents, plus retired teachers and other experts. More than 400 local families have signed up to the proposal.


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Of some 300 free school applications, it is one of only 100 to reach the interview stage.

The four representatives feel the London interview went well after being quizzed on their bid by government officers as well as education and finance experts.

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“It was very moving coming out of the tube station at St James, and finding ourselves in the heart of Westminster,” said Sophie Poklewski Koziell of Route 39.

“We felt that we’d come a long, long way from a casual discussion around the school gate, through hours of meetings around our kitchen tables, to getting an interview at the Department for Education.

“We want to thank all local parents who have supported our bid and want to let them know that they’re not alone - 95 year 6 parents have signed for the first year intake in 2013 and this has given us the confidence to take the bid forward.”

Now they have around have two months before they hear the outcome, but say they are committed to continue building support for the project and to prepare the ground for pre-opening phase.

If successful, it is hoped to open a new secondary school in North Devon on time in September 2013.

Route 39 is one of 18 bids to have won a place on the New Schools Network Development Programme, a charitable programme set up by the government to assist groups it feels merit extra help and have potential.

The group is still seeking local people to assist in the pre-opening phase, who may seek to become governors of the new school. To find out more, email education@route39.org.uk.

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