University bosses want to open a secondary school in Brighton.
The university sponsors academies elsewhere, mostly in Hastings, and is one of Britain’s biggest trainer of teachers.
The council said: “Demand for secondary age school places is expected to increase significantly over the next few years.
“The city’s school organisation plan had identified the need for an addition 300 places per year group by 2019.
“The plan has been developed through the council’s cross-party School Organisation Working Group, working alongside all of the city’s secondary head teachers and representatives of the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex, supported by members of the council’s children’s services team.
“Funding for the proposed free school would come mainly from the Department for Education (DfE), combined with funding already allocated to the council’s school buildings programme.
“The detailed planning process would include acquiring a suitable site for the school.
“A potential opportunity to secure a site in the city has arisen, and this is being actively pursued with the owner of the site.”
The university hopes to submit its application to the DfE in May and to open the school in September 2018.
The council’s executive director of children’s services Pinaki Ghoshal said: “It’s very early days but this is a very exciting proposal that has the potential to be of enormous benefit to the city.
“There is a real need to create new secondary places in the coming years.
“The University of Brighton has a proven track record as a sponsor of new schools and we are keen to explore the benefits this partnership might have for the city.”
Councillor Anne Pissaridou, education spokesman for the opposition Labour group on the council, said: “We have been saying for years that the Greens needed to do something about the urgent need for a new secondary school.
“They pledged in their manifesto to build one but ideology has stopped them. Now at the very last minute before the local elections they have done a dramatic u-turn and said they are in favour of setting up a new free school run by the University of Brighton, something their hard-line supporters will find difficult to swallow.
“Labour has said that its preferred option would be a new secondary built and run by the city council under new powers that would be granted by the incoming Labour government.
“However, the need is urgent so we will not obstruct this plan going forward with a non-for-profit education sector sponsor.
“The needs of pupils and their families must come first and we will work with the university after May if elected to deliver a new school as soon as possible.”
A report to the council’s Policy and Resources Committee said: “The University of Brighton has put forward the proposal that it is prepared to be the promoter of a new secondary free school.
“The university already has academy trust status recognised by the DfE and through the Hastings Academies Trust is the lead sponsor of two secondary academies and seven primary academies in
Hastings and St Leonards, working closely with East Sussex County Council which is a co-sponsor.
“More recently it has developed the University of Brighton Academies Trust and is the sponsor of four opening primary academies in West Sussex.
“The university has one of the largest Schools of Education in the country.
“The School of Education staff know and understand the Brighton and Hove context well through close work over many years with the schools and the authority.
“This extensive partnership work with schools and the authority provides a strong basis for the development of a school which shares a commitment to city wide excellence in education.
“The university’s proposal was discussed at a meeting between the vice chancellor, Professor Julian Crampton, and the executive director of children’s services on 11 February 2015.
“At this meeting the executive director provided a letter signed by the leaders of the three party groups welcoming the university’s interest in being a potential sponsor of a new secondary school in the city and stating that they would be very interested in supporting the university to develop its proposal further.
“The vice chancellor agreed to take the proposal to his board of governors on 27 February 2015.
“At its meeting on 27 February, the board of governors concluded that it was supportive in principle of the development of a free school, noting its fit with the university’s overall strategic developments and regional and community commitments.”
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