VOTE: Are you in favour of a Free School in Chichester?

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The group bidding to create Chichester’s Free School has vowed to continue its plans to open for children from across the Observer area.

Despite backing from both Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie and support from schools minister Nick Gibb, its proposals to find a site to open for next year were rejected by the government.

Undeterred, the band of parents and teachers who are at the heart of the ambitious scheme are determined to ensure the project is accepted.

Its proposals would make it the first in West Sussex to cater for the complete education range from four to 18 years old.

Helen Humphrey, who has taken over co-ordinating the group, expressed frustration at not gaining the initial bid, but felt confident the group’s revised plans stand a good chance of gaining acceptance.

She said: “We were very disappointed; it was quite a shock to us given the support we had from our MPs. But we felt positive that we had some really good feedback that we are taking forward. We’re working with a new organisation, the new schools network, for our renewed bid and have been getting some good feedback from them,” explained the parent who is eager to see a viable alternative being created to Church of England secondary schools within the area.

She revealed one of its main ambitions would be to support pupils from all backgrounds, which was underlined by the fact there would be no designated catchment area for the school.

The group behind the Chichester Free School had evaluated a number of sites close to Chichester city centre as its base, but it is hoping to find a suitable location between Chichester and Bognor Regis which is equally accessible.

Mrs Humphrey added: “We are looking for people to get involved in our bid, particularly anyone with financial experience.”

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