Sharma attends public meeting to back new Reading free school bid

10th December 2012

Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, attended a public meeting held on Friday 7th December at All Saints Junior School for parents to have their say about setting up a new secondary school in West Reading.

The meeting was organised by the West Reading Education Network (WREN), which was set up last month by many of the parents who helped launch Reading’s first free school. WREN is working in partnership with the CfBT Schools Trust, the academies and free schools arm of CfBT Education Trust, one of the UK's largest education charities.

WREN and CfBT Schools Trust aim to create an exceptional secondary school that reflects the needs of local people, ready to open in September 2014.

WREN is in the late stages of developing its business plan for the school, which has then got to be submitted to the Department for Education for approval before permission for the school to be set up can be granted.

The meeting is one of several being held across Central West Reading to gauge public support for the idea and was attended by a large number of parents concerned about the lack of secondary school places in Reading.

Alok Sharma said: “I am absolutely delighted to be supporting WREN's plans to establish a new secondary school in my constituency. It was a real pleasure for me to work with the parents who successfully set up Reading's first Free School, All Saints Junior. And the fact that many of the same parents and community leaders are behind the WREN initiative provides a real boost for this project.”

Alok continued: “Part of the criteria the Department for Education require for approval of an application for a new school, is that there is strong support for the new school in the local community. We do need more school places in Reading and the WREN school initiative is one we should all get behind. I would therefore urge any parents in the area who have concerns about the number of secondary school places in Reading to attend a meeting to learn more or simply complete a survey, which have been distributed to 20 primary schools and can also be filled out online.”

Mischa Tytel from WREN said: “There is a massive need for school places in Reading, particularly in the Central West Area. We want to build an inclusive community secondary school that will focus on providing excellent education and life skills to local children. WREN are delighted to be working in partnership with the CfBT Schools Trust along with Alok Sharma and Reading Borough Council. It was a great event, with lots of parents coming out to show their support.”

More information about the school application is available on the WREN website: http://www.wrenschool.org/. The website also has an online survey to collect data to support the school, as well as a blog and mailing list so that everyone can keep up to date with the group’s progress. There is also a Facebook page and a twitter feed @WRENschool, which will also provide regular updates.

Photo: Alok Sharma with Mischa Tytel and other supporters