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Sunday, 29 March 2015

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MP backs Barrow Free School application

BARROW’S MP has declared a top fee-paying school’s bid to become a Free School a “real boost” for families.

Chetwynde School is to apply to become a Government Funded Independent School (Free School) in September 2014.

If successful, it would be Cumbria’s first Free School.

The Barrow school, which has primary, secondary and sixth form sections, would scrap its fees and offer some 300 new pupil places to the community.

The school wants to offer a free independent education and secure its long-term future. The student roll would increase from around 200 pupils to around 500.

John Woodcock, the MP for Barrow and Furness, said: “A fee-free Chetwynde can give the area a real boost and open up opportunities to families which are currently only available to those who can afford to pay.

“I have counselled all involved with the school to pursue this route and hope they have been helped by the meeting with education secretary Michael Gove which I secured for the head.

“I will never begrudge people who use their means to pay for what they feel is best for their children but I am delighted at the prospect that a well-regarded school currently only available to a minority could soon be open to everyone.”

The plan is backed by parents, teachers and governors.

Following a positive meeting with Chetwynde parents last week, Simon Mardel, the chairman of governors, said: “Instead of being a contingency plan, it is rapidly turning into the best opportunity that the school has had in its recent history. It is moving the school into a new phase which is a very exciting one for the community, as well as the parents, pupils and teachers.

“It is the teachers’ enthusiasm for it which is the most convincing message that I have had because they see it as an opportunity to expand the school really significantly and they feel very strongly, like I do, about the local community having a school which is more accessible to everyone in the community.”

The following informal information events have been organised about the move:

Tomorrow – Four Groves Community Centre, Suffolk Street, Barrow, 4pm to 7pm;

Tuesday November 20 – Walney Community Centre, Central Drive, Walney, 4pm to 7pm;

Thursday November 22 – Aldingham Parish Hall, Scales 4pm to 7pm;

Saturday November 24 – The Dock Museum, Barrow 10am to 2pm;

Monday November 26 – Ireleth Temperance Hall 4pm to 7pm;

Wednesday November 28 – Hawcoat Community Centre, Barrow 4pm to 7pm;

Saturday December 1 – The Forum, Barrow 10am to 2pm;

Monday December 3 – Abbots Vale Community Centre, Barrow 4pm to 7pm;

Tuesday December 4 – Rampside Village Hall, Barrow 4pm to 7pm.

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