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Petition calls for funding to expand Chesterton Community College

Chesterton Community College Picture: Keith Heppell
Chesterton Community College Picture: Keith Heppell

A petition calling for investment in over-subscribed Chesterton Community College has been signed by almost 1,000 people.

Governors and staff at the Gilbert Road secondary are calling for Cambridgeshire County Council to “make a clear commitment to fund expansion” at the school.

They argue that without this commitment, and a start date, the school will not be able to take in all the children in the local area that would like to attend.

In 2013, the school was approached by the county council about whether it would consider expanding.

Headteacher Lucy Scott told the Cambridge Independent that the school “jumped at the opportunity” as it would mean they would be able to take all the children from its feeder primaries.

The last time the school received investment from the local authority was in 1993 to create a new reception/admin area.

“Since 2013, a great deal of time and investment has been put into creating a wonderful plan – in fact, the project is at its final milestone of development and was on the verge of going to planning,” Mrs Scott explained. “However, we have been subject to numerous, frustrating delays.”.

The £10million investment needed, which the school believes has been set aside by County Hall, would be used for a new performance space, new dining hall, new science and art spaces and outside courtyards to be used as learning spaces.

It is understood that the plans were put on hold while further discussions were held over the need in the area.

Mrs Scott added: “Currently, we do not have a performance space or a dining hall which accommodates all of our children, but we do have many other facilities which date back to the 1930s and we have a car park in the centre of our school.

Last year, the school was named one of the nation’s top 100 schools for sustained improvement and this year was ranked in the top seven per cent in the country for its progress 8 score. In the summer, 41 per cent of all GCSE grades were at an A or A*.

“We work incredibly hard as a school to provide outstanding learning experiences and we get amazing results for students,” Mrs Scott explained.

“Chesterton tries hard to make an old site look inviting, but essentially there is little we can do about spaces which are inadequate. The new spaces which our build would create could also be used by our community.

“The plans are truly amazing and this development would mean a great deal to Chesterton and mean local children can have a space at their local school,” she added.

The school has been over-admitting in the past few years, taking in 210 students each academic year rather than published admission number of 180. For the next intake, the number of people selecting Chesterton has risen by seven per cent, with 394 first, second and third choice preferences combined.

Mrs Scott said the school was in continual dialogue with the county council, and believe the 2013 plan is “excellent”.

“We are aware that the local authority is looking at models that might mean students in our catchment would not be able to come here and would be directed to other schools away from siblings and friends.

“The local authority created an excellent plan in 2013.

“We know that their demographic projections around basic need haven’t changed and we are willing to accommodate local students; given those circumstances protracted delays and uncertainty are difficult for our community to deal with. Our aim is a local school for local children.”

Cambridgeshire County Council was approached for comment.

To sign the petition, visit ipetitions.com/petition/chesterton-expansion.

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