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University to run new Aldershot school instead of church

The school is being built as part of Aldershot's expansion and will allow pupils to work with university departments

Grainger
Artist's impression of houses within the Aldershot Urban Extension

A new primary school being built as part of Aldershot's expansion will be run by the University of Chichester after Hampshire County Council decided against the more local option of the Diocese of Guildford.

The two organisations submitted bids to the county council last year after it was decided that the school would be opened as an academy.

Part of Project Wellesley - the large-scale development of Aldershot that will result in thousands of families moving into new houses over the next 15 years - the school is expected to open in September 2016 and will accommodate 420 pupils initially, rising to 630.

John Beresford, development director at Grainger which is managing Wellesley, said it had been a 'two-horse race' between the West Sussex university and the diocese for the operating rights.

He said the university had 'edged' the decision against Grainger's expectations, as the diocese had been an active presence and shown much enthusiasm about promoting the school to the community in recent months.

"The diocese had done all the right things, so the university must have had a really good bid," he said.

The university will appoint the headteacher for the school and govern it independently of the government, although it will still be state-funded.

Councillor Peter Edgar, executive member for Education at the county council, said: “As with every new academy the decision as to who should be appointed as the sponsor rests with the Secretary of State for Education.

"The Secretary of State has recently named the University of Chichester as the sponsor for the new school having followed their standard procedure. The county council looks forward to continuing to work closely with both organisations in the best interests of Hampshire children.”

Project Wellesley, the biggest development ever passed by Rushmoor Borough Council, will deliver 3,850 homes, a second new school and a community centre, and involve historic military buildings being refurbished.

Planning permission was granted last July, subject to a 480-page document of commitments on issues such as highways, affordable housing and investment in Aldershot being agreed with Grainger. One of these is a large country park for walkers and mountain bikers in the area between Farnborough Road and the Rushmoor Arena.

It was announced last week that this section 106 agreement had been reached, meaning the first phase of 228 houses, known as Maida, will begin in August, with the first families expected to move in January 2015. The new school is scheduled to open in September 2016.

Dr Alan McMurdo, director of academies at Chichester, said: "The academy trust aims to provide outstanding learning opportunities for all our pupils, to raise aspirations and achievement and to make a real difference to the life chances of young people in Aldershot. 

"This is a very exciting opportunity for us and for the local community."

Its current academies include Frogmore Junior School and Mill Chase Academy in Bordon.

Dr McMurdo added: "Our Aldershot academy will benefit from the expert input of the University’s Department of Education in developing a curriculum that specifically meets the needs of local children. There will be opportunities to work with university departments such as sport, art and music."

 

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