Trust launches bid to solve primary school place crisis in Saffron Walden

A new school could be ready for 2017.

A new school could be ready for 2017. - Credit: © Royalty-Free/CORBIS

Saffron Walden could have a new primary school ready to open as early as September 2017 if a new bid is successful.

The Saffron Academy Trust submitted a bid to the Department for Education (DfE) on March 1, with a decision expected on the proposed free school this summer.

Subject to DfE approval, the new school will be located on the east side of town, and it is understood that an area next to Tesco on Radwinter Road is one of several possible sites that are currently being assessed by the district council.

The trust, which comprises Saffron Walden County High, Katherine Semar Junior and Infants and Alec Hunter Academy in Braintree, met with residents at a meeting last Monday (February 29) to discuss the proposal.

The new educational base, named Saffron Primary School, will be directly funded by the DFE and has already gained support of town residents, Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst, and the secretary of state for education, Nicky Morgan MP.

Caroline Derbyshire, CEO of the trust and headteacher at County High, says the new site would offer a solution to the lack of school places currently available in the town.

She said: “The lack of provision is a serious matter and we do need to find a solution. By 2017, there will not be enough primary school places, and it then becomes a very difficult situation for children and their parents.

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“We will be using the blueprint from our trust’s successful family of schools and drawing on that expertise to manage the new primary. We are hopeful of hearing by late summer, early autumn time if the bid has been successful.

“There is a lot of support from the town’s residents, the local authority, the Saffron Walden MP and yesterday we received a letter from Nicky Morgan MP endorsing the project. So there is a will to make this happen.”

Essex County Council, who were championing a bid for a new primary school in Saffron Walden to open in September 2018, say they are fully supportive of the proposal.

A spokesman said the county council will not continue with their bid should Saffron Academy Trust’s be successful as the need will be met by the free school.