I've already posted a few blog posts about my old secondary school, Ryeish Green School in Reading, which closed last year.
The victim of political bitchfighting in the local council created a storm of anxiety over the school's future, causing parents to send prospective students elsewhere. The Conservative-led council then used this point to successfully close the school. That was the official reason given anyway, but it's pretty well known that Wokingham Borough Council didn't like the school having a catchment area that included parts of neighbouring Reading Borough Council's less-affluent residents.
Since my last post about the school, almost a year ago, there have been some interesting developments, namely "free schools" - a piece of Conservative "Big Society" policy that allows groups to open their own school, with full state funding but without the need for the local education authority.
The local campaign group that tried in vain to keep the school open have joined forces with the CfBT Education Trust to put forward a proposal to give the Conservatives a good kicking with their own policy and submitted their proposal for a free school to the Department of Education at the end of May. They'll find out if they've been successful in September. Fingers crossed.
If they are successful, the new school will open in September 2012 with, according to their recruitment stats, 120 year 7s, possibly some years 8 and 9, and growing to serve around 600 students over the next 3-5 years. They even have plans to re-open the sixth form.
All of this is happening while the council insists a school is not needed in this area. In fact take a look at this map, from the WoW Parent Group's website. The grey areas are large residential areas; green dots are existing Wokingham schools, the red dot is the former / future Ryeish Green school. Notice the imbalance between east and west? Soooo not fair!
The west of the district needs a secondary school. If the local education authority is going to give up on the children of the area then I continue to wish the parents group the very best in their proposals to open the free school.