PARENTS have raised concerns as to whether the promised new secondary free school in Chafford Hundred will be built, claims Labour’s Polly Billington.
In September, 2014, the Harris Federation announced that they had been given a green light by the Department for Education to open a new secondary free school in the Thurrock area.
It is anticipated that the school, whether in Chafford Hundred or West Thurrock, would provide education for over 1100 students in the borough.
Thurrock Council went ahead and advertised 90 places available for Year 7, starting in Sept 2015, in their admissions brochure
A few weeks ago, the school announced that the first intake would be housed within the grounds of the present school in Mayflower Road, Chafford Hundred.
YT was keen to receive an update on the plans for a new secondary school and so asked the Department for Education (Dfe) whether any cash had been handed over yet.
A DfE spokesperson said: “Free schools are a vital part of our plan for education. The new Harris Chafford Hundred Secondary Free School is being set up in direct response to local demand.
“We are working with Harris and once fully up and running it will deliver 1,150 places.”
We pressed again and asked whether the actual agreement had been signed. A spokesperson confessed that it had not but stressed that this was "nothing unusual."
It now looks like parents and politicians are keen for some answers.
The prospective parliamentary candidate for Thurrock, Polly Billington said:
"I’ve spoken to parents who are concerned about the uncertainty surrounding the promised new secondary school in Chafford Hundred. Parents want to do what’s best for their children’s education. They have a right to know whether or not the school they have been promised is going to be built.
"Thurrock’s MP Jackie Doyle Price, has long promised this as part of the government’s “free” school agenda. With only six months to go until it is supposed to be taking pupils, we need to know if she has delivered on her promise.
"It is unfair for parents, who are trying to do the right thing, to keep them waiting. they need answers sooner rather than later.
"Class sizes in Thurrock are getting bigger, making it harder for teachers to teach and children to learn. We need more schools not empty promises. Thurrock needs an MP that will act for them and get things done – and not try to claim a ‘victory’ while parents are still worrying about their children’s future."
YT contacted Ms Doyle-Price, the Harris Federation and the head of Harris Academy Chafford Hundred, Nicola Graham but they had not replied at the time of publication.
Both local councillors for South Chafford, cllrs Tunde Ojetola and Charlie Key did respond to our queries and pledged that they would look into it.