I just got this from council officers. I think Free Schools/Academies will in the long term damage education. Unfortunately in the short term they are the only game in town:
I am writing to advise you on forthcoming public activities related to the planned bid by Oxford and Cherwell Valley College (OCVC, who run Reading College) to the Department for Education for a secondary school on the TVU site at Crescent Road. The bid is supported by a number of organisations including RBC and Wokingham council is due to be submitted at the end of May 2011 using the DfE’s “Free Schools” proposal process. Part of that process requires demonstration of significant parental support for the proposed school. To that end there are two strands of current activity for your awareness.
The first is a public meeting taking place at 6pm on Friday 20th May at Reading College, Kings Road. This has been organised by the College with an advert placed in the Evening Post /Get Reading papers which will appear from Wednesday 11th May and allows for registration via email to Paula Hallam (email@example.com) of Reading College by Wednesday 18 May. I have not seen a list of speakers but I think the College will talk about the style/curriculum of the school and that they will ask Rob Wilson MP to talk up confidence about the possibility of securing the funding. Reading officers (me) will be attending to support OCVC with questions about demand and potential admissions criteria. Reading College are being advised to run further sessions in the following week at times that are more accessible!
The second strand is a survey of parents with children of school age who could use the potential new school. As a supporter of the bid we are planning to use our website to run a survey from Friday 13th to gauge wider support. We also plan to put an information sheet (written by OCVC) into the school bags of pupils in the 10 Primary schools who typically feed into secondary schools to the East. This will be arranged with the schools for next week.