Police headquarters in Northampton could become school in 2016

editorial image

The Wootton Hall police headquarters in Northampton could be converted into a school by September 2016, Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds has said.

At an event launching the idea of the ‘Wootton Park School’, PCC Adam Simmonds said a bid for a new “all-through” school for pupils aged from four to 18 years old was going to be made to the Department for Education next month.

Justin Brown

Justin Brown

If successful, Mr Simmonds said it was hoped the school, which would provide space for abut 1,000 pupils, would open on the Wootton Hall site ready for the start of the 2016/17 or possibly the 2017/18 school year.

Mr Simmonds said there was “no guarantee” the school would be built on Wootton Hall as it could go “anywhere in the town” but he said he was committed to the concept of the school.

The PCC also said the school plan was not dependent on his re-election in 2016.

Mr Simmonds said: “For me this idea started with a Victor Hugo quote “if you open a school you close a prison.”

The Wotton Hall Free School was launched at an event at Sixfields Stadium.

The Wotton Hall Free School was launched at an event at Sixfields Stadium.

“As PCC I thought about what that would mean and the principal behind the quote.”

The plans announced at the event at Sixfields on Friday revealed that pupils at the school will enjoy connections to the “blue-light” services through visits from police officers and firefighters.

Pupils will also have the opportunity to serve as police and fire cadets and be given the chance to have work experience with the police, fire service and Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Pupils will also get the chance to study criminal science and learn strategies for preventing crime.

The school day will be slightly longer than most state schools with extra curricular clubs running until 4.30pm on certain days.

The curriculum will be based on the Cambridge University International Curriculum and Examination system.

Conservative MP for Northampton South, Brian Binley, who is one of the trustees of the school trust, said the new school would provide an exciting alternative for children in Northampton.

He said: “We hope to create pupils who are thoughtful, lawful, disciplined, community minded, respectful and embracing of diversity and aware of the often complex ethical and moral conflicts in our communities and the wider inter-connected world around them.”

Former police officer Justin Brown, who has set up a website to challenge Adam Simmonds, set up a protest outside the meetting at Sixfields Stadium.

Mr Brown said: “I’m not against the idea of new schools but I am against the seemingly unethical process behind the establishment and proposal of Wootton Park School.

“I’m deeply suspicious of the plans and the people it will benefit.”