Free school plans gain momentum

PARENTS interested in sending their children to a new Church of England secondary school in Woking from 2016 have until Tuesday (December 17) to say so before the bid is submitted to the Government Department for Education.

After recognising demand for a church school, the Diocese of Guildford, in partnership with the already established and successful Christ’s College, Guildford, have introduced a ‘pre-prospectus’ plan for the Emmanuel College academy.

Deputy director of education on the response team, Michael Hall, said: “One of the key things on the Government agenda is an indication of parents’ interests and they have specified the need for a CofE secondary school as there aren’t any in Woking.

“We have a site in mind to serve Pyrford, Maybury and West Byfleet, but the exact location cannot be confirmed until we have a green light after the Government have scrutinised the proposal. The plans need to be with the department by January 6.”

The free school already has a full range of specialist senior staff lined up, available at Christ College, who will work at the Woking site from the outset, which is a huge advantage.

Although some of the borough’s existing schools are in a position to expand to ac-commodate the mushrooming population of primary pupils in the short term, the capacity will not be sufficient to meet the number of places required at secondary education level in the longer term.

Mr Hall added: “Emmanuel College intend to reach out to the whole community and will be for all faiths. We have spoken to the Imam at the Shah Jahan Mosque, and we know other faiths hold the same spiritual values as we do, which is why a church school is a popular choice.

“We also want to be as sensitive as we can with other Woking schools and are working with and talking to them.”

The team started the project a year ago and Mr Hall added: “It’s a complicated process which has accelerated over the last six weeks with many meetings taking place.” They have sent letters to the Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Michael Gove, and Surrey County Councillors updating them on proceedings.

The eventual plan is to incorporate a sixth form and, hopefully, a primary school on a different site to ensure continuity.

Rector of Byfleet, John McCabe, said: “I am really supportive of this bid and have spoken to a number of parents in Byfleet with a great response. So please do read the details and email us your support offer. ”

To see a prospectus and to respond, visit or send an email to

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