Hoe Valley Free School
The Department of Education has approved plans to set up a new mainstream secondary school for 11 to 18 year olds in South Woking. The school is being founded by local parents, teachers, volunteers and business people to address the growing need for school places in Woking as a result of an increasing birth rate and more families moving into the area from other parts of the country.
The Hoe Valley Free School will be the second free school in Surrey and the first of its kind in Woking. Free schools are non-profit making, independent and state funded schools which are free to attend but are not controlled by the local authority. They can be established by parents, education charities and religious groups. Free schools are expected to offer a balanced curriculum in line with national performance standards, and are subject to the same inspection regime as other schools.
Many free schools have gone on to achieve fantastic results. Three quarters of free schools have been rated as outstanding or good by Ofsted at first inspection, so this is a tremendous opportunity for the borough which will help ensure that more children can attend a good quality secondary school close to where they live.
The planned opening date for the school is September 2015 and work is ongoing to find a temporary and then a more permanent location in South Woking. There will obviously be challenges ahead in identifying a suitable site for the school, and any new development which impacts on residents will obviously be a matter for public consultation. Given the potential impact and benefits that this project will bring to families in Mount Hermon, my colleagues and I will be taking a close interest in ensuring that any location found for the school is both suitable and sustainable.
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