Cromwell Community College in Chatteris could become first in Cambridgeshire to cater for pupils from four to 18

Staff outside the front of Cromwell Community College, Chatteris.

Staff outside the front of Cromwell Community College, Chatteris. - Credit: Archant

A Chatteris school could become the first in Cambridgeshire to cater for pupils from four to 18 after plans for a new primary school were shelved.

Active Learning Trust, which runs Cromwell Community College and Kingsfield Primary, was going to run a new free school but after 18 months pulled out.

Talks are now at an advanced stage to extend Cromwell College to take in pupils of primary school age.

Ian Trafford, the county council’s education officer for Fenland, said: “We need the extra places by September 2019, because we’re aware of our pupil forecasting data.

“That’s why we’ve quickly moved on from the free school proposal to a very exciting proposal.”

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He told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: “We think in many ways it offers considerable advantages over starting a new school in what would have been a new housing development area. And what we’re able to do by extending the ground of Cromwell Community College is to build on the infrastructure of the site that’s already present.

“We’ve also got in place an established school leadership team, at a school that’s rated ‘good’ by Ofsted. So we haven’t got to start a school from scratch; we’re building on what’s already a very popular and successful school.

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He added: “We’ve got a very large site, so there’ll still be separateness in terms of access, playgrounds, play space and how children arrive and leave the school.”

“But what you will get is the combined management; possibly better curriculum planning across the primary and secondary age range, more cooperation and sharing of resources.

“We can deal with safeguarding issues through what I would call intelligent design,” he added.

Before any final decision is made, there will be a consultation involving the town council and local people.

Chatteris councillor Florence Newell however disagrees that it is “an exciting prospect.

“I don’t agree with it at all,” she said. “I think it is absolutely ridiculous to mix four year olds with children aged 11 to 18.

“I think it’ll be worse because pupils will lose some of their playing fields.”

A spokesman for The Active Learning Trust said: “Working closely with county council officers, we are delighted to be able to put forward a proposal to extend the age range at Cromwell.

“This type of school can only be opened following consultation and approval from the Secretary of State for Education. It is the trust’s intention to seek that approval in early 2018.”

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