Plug pulled on a bid to open Portsmouth’s first free school

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EFFORTS to build Portsmouth’s first free school have collapsed almost a year after the campaign was first announced.

The team behind the Maren Free School bid revealed the news in a post on their Facebook page.

Project organisers had hoped to scoop government cash to build a new education facility, which would have catered for pupils aged from four to 16.

But in an update on the group’s Facebook page, the organisation said: ‘After much consideration we are very sad to say that we have decided that we will have to put the Maren School project on hold for the time being.

‘This is due to different reasons but mainly because we are struggling to find the time the project needs at the moment and due to the government not having put forward any deadlines for free school applications since autumn 2016.

‘It makes us very sad as we have put a lot of time and effort into the project and really believe in the vision of the Maren School and also think Portsmouth could really benefit from it.

‘We are on the lookout for someone to take over the project or we might be able to pick it up again at some point in the future.’

As previously revealed by The News last year, no exact location had been decided for the site.

But speaking at the time, the group had said it was interested in two sites in the Milton area, near St James and the university’s Langstone campus.

Mum-of-two Emily Whiting, of Southsea, was one of the parents involved in the idea.

Speaking at the time, she said: ‘Our vision is to create an innovative and outstanding centre of education for children aged four to 16 in an inclusive environment where children are empowered and inspired to reach their full academic, emotional and physical potential.’

Organisers had intended to submit their bid to the government, in a hope of having the school up and running by autumn 2019.

Mrs Whiting added the school would have helped ‘plug a gap’ in secondary school places, which Portsmouth is looking to increase.