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Category Archives: Michael Gove

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It is remarkable how a rough gravel car park in Woking is proving an enduring lure for those in the education world – and even for those on the outer fringes of it. Some people may recall that in 2009 a campaign group fought off a plan by Woking College, backed by Woking council, to relocate its campus to Woking Park, and, in particular, the gravel car park, which is currently used by coaches taking school pupils for swimming lessons, and by other coaches bringing fans to Woking FC on match days. Now Woking council is having another go, this time backing a plan by Hoe Valley free school, which succeeded in getting permission from the Department for Education last year to set itself up, even though it had not found a home. The putative school wants to put temporary one- and two-storey buildings on the car park site in Woking Park for at least two years. Woking council is backing this plan, although it admits it has no idea yet where the school and football coaches will go instead. A school in Woking Park will obviously cause extra traffic problems as well. Surrey county council, which recently admitted it could not provide places for all secondary school pupils that need them in the county because of a government funding shortfall , is supporting the plan. It doesn’t really have any other choice. Free schools, the brainchild of former education secretary Michael Gove, are state-funded but not controlled by the local authority. Gove, who was reshuffled last year from education because of his growing unpopularity among parents and teachers, had been accused of raiding other parts of the education budget to fund free schools. According to the Woking Advertiser, nearby residents are very unhappy about the current plans, and wonder whether the free school’s “temporary” site might not have to become permanent, if other plans fall through.