Steiner Free School is not needed and would be a waste of taxpayers' money, says Stroud Labour Party
PLANS for a Steiner Free School in Stroud have come under attack from local Labour Party politicians, who insist the project is not needed and would be a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Members of Stroud Labour Party, including former MP David Drew, are warning that if the proposal is allowed to proceed it is likely to result in the closure of two or three of the district’s primary schools as well as one of its secondary schools.
More than 1,000 parents have expressed an interest in sending their children to the proposed Steiner Free School, which would cater for around 600 pupils aged between four and 16.
But Mr Drew, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the next general election, has voiced his unequivocal opposition to the project.
“I have grave concerns about the cost to local communities if this plan goes ahead,” he said.
“It’s not just the millions of pounds to set the school up when it’s not needed, but the threat of closure to some terrific village schools.
“I know what those schools mean to their communities and how devastating it will be if they close.
“The frustrating thing is that there is actually a shortage of school places in Gloucester and Cheltenham so setting up a school there would make sense.”
Responding to Mr Drew’s comments, Stroud MP Neil Carmichael said: “I think what parents want is the ability to choose between schools and by definition therefore you need to have places for parents to choose between.”
However, when asked whether he was for or against the Steiner Free School proposal, Mr Carmichael said: “What I’m for is high standards in education and we do have some great schools in our district, like Marling and Archway.
“We have had some good OFSTED reports. Not all our schools are yet in that category though and we have to make sure that they are in that category.”
In a letter to the SNJ last week, Mr Carmichael said: “The total number of available spaces supports the notion that a new school might be more useful in, for example, Cheltenham where pressure on spaces is intense.”
But he added: “The desire for a new school in Stroud is supported by about one thousand parents, reflecting a preference for choice in education and concern over existing provision.”
The group behind the proposed Steiner Free School is aiming to submit its application for funding to the Government in January.
In a statement, Tarra Gilder-Rai, finance lead for the project, said: “Steiner Academy Five Valleys (previously known as Stroud Steiner Free School) currently has 1,100 children signed up, which clearly indicates a need for our school.
“These are the children of local taxpayers who deserve to have the education their parents want for them, regardless of their family's financial situation.
“The choice is that of each individual parent; they can select from the existing schools in the area, or the proposed Steiner Academy Five Valleys.
“The parents supporting our school have exercised their right of choice, and their choice should be respected.”
Comments are closed on this article.