Community bid for 'exceptional' free school in Ongar due to 'limited opportunities' for children

School4Ongar published the plans yesterday

Jeff Banks and Anna Wallbank of The Ongar Academy joined by Erick Pickles MP, centre

First published in News
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East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter - Epping Forest

A community campaign to create a new free school has entered a decisive phase with the launch of a webiste detailing how an "exceptional" secondary will be established.

The proposed Ongar Academy, catering for 750 pupils, would be close to Ongar Leisure Centre in The Gables and is scheduled to open in September next year.

A group of teachers, parents and grandparents calling themselves School4Ongar has launched a website and published a brochure setting out their vision.

The school would operate outside of local authority control and teaching would be based on the National Curriculum, with a emphasis on English and maths, but also a focus on science, technology and engineering.

Ongar Comprehensive School closed in 1989 and children are said to now face long bus journeys to schools outside the town.

The Ongar Academy website claims there is also "limited opportunities for our children to attend an 'Outstanding' school and demand for places at these schools is set to grow over coming years".

Project Chairman Pete Merchant, of Cloverley Road in Ongar, said: “This is a real turning point in our campaign. The people of Ongar now have clear evidence that we are very serious about providing this town and its community with an exceptional secondary school.

“We want the people of Ongar and surrounding areas to give the government a resounding message over the next few weeks, that they want their children to have the best secondary education right here in our own town.”

Schools4Ongar will apply to the Department for Education (DfE) and show evidence of demand for a secondary school in Ongar.

Eric Pickles, MP for Brentwood and Ongar said: “The lack of a secondary school in Ongar has been an issue for parents and youngsters in the town for many years.

“With the development which has taken place in and around Ongar recently, there is a convincing argument in favour of a new school in the town.”

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