New school planned for Knowle

Plans for a new free school in Knowle have been put forward by Bristol Grammar School.

The proposed school would offer education for over 1,000 children aged four -16 and provide a non-selective community school for Knowle by September 2019.

Headmaster of the independent Bristol Grammar School (BGS), Rod MacKinnon, confirmed an application was submitted to the Department for Education on 28 September and they would learn if it had been successful in Spring 2017.

Headmaster of Bristol Grammar School Rod MacKinnon
Headmaster of Bristol Grammar School Rod MacKinnon

At a meeting at Redcatch Community Centre on 23 September, Mr MacKinnon spoke to around 80 attendees about the plans. Most were in favour – and learned no site had been identified and admissions would be for those closest to the school.

There would be two forms of entry in the primary school – around 60 places – and six in the secondary school – around 180 places.

If the application is successful, the new school will be Government-funded and run separately from BGS. But the fee-paying school will work in partnership with it “sharing new innovations and ideas.”

BGS Headmaster Rod MacKinnon told The Knowledge these were “exciting times” for those “working in education in Bristol.”

He said: ” One thing that has become clear over my years of professional experience is that when people work collaboratively everyone benefits and we can achieve great things.

“If everyone, state and independent, works in partnership to raise standards for all, it will be a powerful engine for continued improvement here in Bristol.”

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth said the news of the new school had come as a shock to many people.

In a statement she said: “Thanks to the efforts of our young people, teachers, governors, parents and carers – coupled with investment from government – educational achievement in Bristol has improved considerably in recent years.

“There is still lots to do, however, and schools in south Bristol are well-placed to make further progress. That’s because not only have they established close links with parents, young people and the communities they serve, they have also successfully forged a collaborative model over recent years in which the schools work closely with each other with peer support.

“This gives them flexibility which helps them match skills and qualifications to the local economy, and to the global one.

“Importantly it also gives parents a voice as they have real influence to help shape the nature and ethos of the school their children attend.

“So the discovery that a new school might now be established, apparently without local influence in any decision, has come as a shock to many people. I know that many residents find it unacceptable that Whitehall can determine the shape of schooling in Bristol South, without genuine local accountability.

“In my view any plan to change local schooling provision must place at its heart the involvement of the affected communities and their representatives. It is also my view that any large scale educational development should be part of wider regeneration plans for the area. So these decisions should not be rushed, especially as in this case it is far from clear exactly where this proposed new school might be located.”

To be kept up-to-date about the progress of the plans email Bristol Grammar School at:newschoolforknowle@bgs.bristol.sch.uk

Bristol Grammar School
Bristol Grammar School