Sites for Steiner free school in Stroud proposed
STANDISH Hospital and the former Amberley Ridge Special School have been put forward as suggested sites for a Steiner free school in the Five Valleys.
A third undisclosed location in central Stroud has also been mooted as part of an application for the parent-led school, currently being considered by the Department for Education.
Ministers will have the final say on where the school would be located if the application is given the green light in June.
Members of the Stroud Steiner Free School Initiative say almost 800 families in the Five Valleys support their proposal but the plans have been attacked by Stroud Labour Party, who say there is already a surplus of hundreds of school places in the county.
Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt backed the group’s opposition during a recent visit to Stroud.
The Steiner Academy Five Valleys, as it will be known, would cater for some 600 pupils aged between four and 16 if the application is approved.
However, even if the bid is given the thumbs up, the process of selecting a suitable site is likely to be lengthy as education chiefs must consider a raft of factors, including planning, demand and accessibility.
A successful free school application in Bristol saw decision-makers deliberate over suitable locations for more than a year before settling on a site in the north of the city.
Earlier this year, residents in Standish were told of plans to transfer the ownership of the derelict hospital site from NHS Property Services to the Homes and Communities Agency.
Stroud District Council currently has the site listed as a hospital for planning purposes, meaning that any change of use from this would require planning permission.
The Amberley Ridge School site has been vacant since the special school moved to Cheltenham in 2012.
Tarra Gilder-Rai, finance lead for the Stroud Steiner Free School Initiative, said: “I do not think any of us are particularly preoccupied with where the school is, we would just be ecstatic if the application was approved.
“It is a type of education we believe in and we want it for our children.
“We know there is already Steiner education on offer in Stroud but the people behind this and the people who want it cannot afford to go to those schools.”
Steiner education works on the ethos of allowing children to progress at their own rate by giving equal attention to their academic, physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
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