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Work To Build New Swanage Free School To Start Early


3:40pm 10th December 2012

Work will start 6 months earlier than planned on building Swanage's new free school.

County Councillors have agreed that construction on the existing Swanage Middle School site will start in February.

The move is part of the reorganisation of the education system in Purbeck from a three tier, to a two tier system.

All existing middle schools will close by July next year, first schools will be expanded into primaries, with the Purbeck School as a secondary.

It was originally agreed by the county council that no major construction works would begin on middle school sites before their closure. In Swanage, from next summer the middle school site will be jointly occupied by St Mark's CE Primary School and the new Government-backed free secondary school, The Swanage School.

But the situation became more complicated when The Swanage School asked to begin construction in February, to avoid the creation of a temporary school.

However, agreement has been reached that the building work can be managed to avoid major impact on pupils during the final months of the Middle School - and the Middle School has also given its blessing to the early start.

Swanage Town Council will also be expected to hand over the land it leases at Northbrook Road without delay, which will allow the development of St Mary's RC school as scheduled. There is no impact on any other planned work to the remaining schools in the Purbeck area.

Cllr Toni Coombs, Dorset County Council cabinet member for children's services, said:

"This is an extremely complex and sensitive issue, linked with the wider Purbeck schools reorganisation. Any delays here will substantially increase costs and affect the money available for other aspects for the reorganisation, including the proposed new primary school in Bere Regis.

"We have balanced the competing views and needs of the local area and have agreed a way forward that is in the best interests of local children across Purbeck. It will ensure the Purbeck schools reorganisation remains on track and within budget."

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