New Oakbank free school opens todayBy Laura Herbert
September 05, 2012
A new free school in Wokingham borough will welcome its first pupils when it opens this week.
Oakbank was established following a successful bid by the West of Wokingham Parent Group (WoWPG) to the Department of Education.
The school is at the Ryeish Green School site in Hyde End Lane, Spencers Wood, which controversially closed in July 2010 with Wokingham Borough Council blaming a fall in pupil numbers.
WoWPG was backed by Reading-based educational charity CfBT Educational Trust which helped oversee the application process with the school expected to open tomorrow (Thursday). It will operate independently of local authority control with a governing body including CfBT, staff and parents, and be funded directly from central Government.
Nick Dorey, appointed headteacher in December, last year, said: “A lot of families have been involved in the project for the best part of two years and the teachers are dying to get on and teach their subjects and the students are looking forward to it.
“A school doesn’t mean a lot without children in it, and I shall be at the gates with my deputy today to give them a warm welcome.”
WoWPG launched plans for a free school in November 2010 to cater for many children living in villages in the west of the borough after many were displaced by the closure of Ryeish Green and having to travel to Woodley, Earley and Wokingham for their education.
The school will start with an initial cohort of 61 pupils and eventually grow to cater for 560 students.
Shannon Nolte, a founder member of WoWPG, said: “It feels slightly unreal as we have been working hard on this for so long, and to know pupils will be walking through the gates today still seems a bit of a dream.
“We are delighted but hugely relived because some free schools have not had an easy ride and have had their funding pulled or not found a site and had to postpone their opening.
“We are confident everything is now how we want it and the pupils and parents will be thrilled at their new school.”