Heyford Park Free School gets go ahead
Parents and residents are celebrating the news that a Free School at Heyford Park has today (13 July) been given the green light by the Government.
One of only ten all-through selected nationwide, the co-educational Heyford Park Free School will provide 840 places for pupils aged between four and 19 by 2019, with the first year of intake starting in September 2013.
With a strong emphasis on personal development as well as educational attainment, each year will contain two forms of entry, kept to 60 pupils per year group. The school has set high academic goals but will have close links with the local business community, providing its young people with knowledge, skills, mentorship and vocational opportunities to support them in later life. It also plans to make modern history part of a broad curriculum in recognition of the area's important military heritage.
The school was proposed by The Heyfordian School Trust, a charitable Trust consisting of parents, residents, local educational specialists, local businesses and the Dorchester Group, owners of Heyford Park. Members of the community wanted to see a primary and secondary school developed for the area as part of plans to regenerate the former RAF and US Air force site, and the free school plans received widespread backing.
Nathan Jones, Governor for The Heyfordian School Trust, said "We're absolutely thrilled with the decision; it's a fantastic step forward for the local area and an important milestone for Heyford Park.
"We would like to express our thanks to everyone involved for all their hard work. Our local parents and residents have worked tirelessly to provide support for the school and we are confident that we will be able to provide the local community with the choice and opportunity that they want and need for their children."
Paul Silver, member of the Heyfordian School Trust and executive director of the Dorchester Group, said: "We are committed to helping provide community facilities as part of the development of Heyford Park. By responding to what local people want and supporting plans to develop a new Free School, we hope to deliver the full potential of Heyford Park. We are delighted that the proposal has been granted and are looking forward to rolling up our sleeves to help bring this school to fruition".
Councillor Melinda Tilley, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet member for Education comments: "I congratulate all those who have backed the Heyford Park Free School. It is an exciting step in the generation of new school places in Oxfordshire and a unique achievement for local parents. The Heyford Park Free school is well located and has great potential to offer parents and children a personalised, community focussed approach to education."
One local parent, Pam Cameron, said: "This is brilliant news, and we're delighted the school has been given the go-ahead. The all-through education will offer local children the continuity between primary and secondary which many don't have in this area, and the unique level of active parental involvement means we have a central role in shaping our children's education. We can't wait to see it open."
Based at Heyford Park, Europe's largest and best preserved American airfield, the school will be housed in the Grade II listed former American Officers' Mess building. Renovation work on the building and existing sports facilities will begin at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Heyfordian School Trust will hold an open day later this month for parents interested in learning more about the Free School. The date will be announced in the coming weeks.
To find out more about the Heyford Park Free School, visit www.heyfordparkfreeschool.org or follow the blog at http://heyfordparkfreeschool-theblog.blogspot.co.uk.