Fen secondary schools to be made fit for the future in Wisbech, March, Chatteris and Whittlesey

Wisbech Councillor Sam Hoy

Wisbech Councillor Sam Hoy - Credit: Archant

A £23m investment is ear marked for a 750-place secondary school to open in Wisbech by September 2020

Cromwell Community College, Chatteris

Cromwell Community College, Chatteris - Credit: Archant

The cash injection is part of a Fen-wide plan to make sure schools are fit for the future with £3.7m also in the budget to expand Cromwell Community College at Chatteris.

There are hopes to expand the Sir Harry Smith Community College in Whittlesey by 150 places and find a site for a new secondary school in March - but neither of those have any funding set aside as yet.

Secondary schools locally are set to be crammed as need rises in the area, amid figures that show the population has grown by almost 14 per cent since 2001 - it now stands at 95,300 - according to a report by the county council’s children and young people’s committee.

Around 2,250 extra secondary school places will be needed by 2031 the report says.

Sir Harry Smith Community College

Sir Harry Smith Community College - Credit: Archant

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In Wisbech, an initial consultation suggested building the new secondary school on land near Meadowgate but after residents voiced their concerns Councillor Samantha Hoy stepped in and urged officers to re-think.

She said: “The plan was to be on the college land but many residents complained so I asked officers to have a re-look.

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“This was at the July committee. They did another consultation which highlighted new sites to explore, so the plan is to now go ahead with the school to open September 2020 and to look at two preferred sites.”

The two options are on land on the west side of the town towards Leverington near Pickards Way.

One idea is on land north and south of Sandy Lane and the other north west of the town at Dowgate Road allotments.

Cllr Hoy said: “The west would be good if the garden town happens.”

During the county council meeting on Tuesday (17) members heard Cllr Gordon Gillick tell fellow politicians that “the EU kids ‘are disabled grammatically and drag English kids down’ and that we are being flooded and we shouldn’t have the school,” Cllr Hoy said.

On her post in Facebook page Wisbech Discussion, updating members on the county council meeting, one commentator said she was shocked at Cllr Gillick’s opinion.

Another said they had “seen enough grammatical and spelling errors from Brits, having migrants also in class does nothing.”

Cllr Kit Owen added: “Do these councillors not look at demographics? Most EU kids are more educated than the indigenous population.”

The meeting agreed to look at the two new preferred sites in Wisbech, to approve officers working with the Brooke Weston Trust as sponsor of the Thomas Clarkson Academy to manage the potential demand for the additional places needed in Wisbech prior to the opening of the new secondary school in town.

Members also agreed to set aside money for extra student places at the Crowmell in Chatteris and Sir Harry Smith in Whittlesey and to build a new secondary school in March depending on the major housing allocation sites in the town’s local plan.

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