This evening, I’ll be joining Penn and Tylers Green Residents Society for their AGM so I am posting below what we know about the future of the Penn School site.
The Department for Education have confirmed that the site has been purchased by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) to be used to establish a free school. The EFA purchases sites for future free schools where it represents value for money and there is a need for school places in the area.
Secondary schools in Wycombe are forecast to have a shortfall of places from 2017/18. With the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty tightly restricting development land, I am glad a school will be built on this school site.
What is likely to happen next?
Usually, once a free school application has been approved, the EFA will attempt to find a site for the proposed school. In this case, the EFA would match the site with an appropriate free school application. There is no mandatory timeframe for this process.
Once an application has been approved by the Secretary of State, the applicants would have a series of milestones to meet. The Department for Education provides an illustrative timeline which suggests that the ‘kick-off’ meeting would happen at least 12 or more months before the school is due to open. This is only an indication, however.
I remain in communication with the Department about the future of the site. I will post updates when more information becomes available.
The House of Commons Library has a useful briefing here on free schools.
The Department for Education has published a guide here on the free schools application process.