A new secondary school in Burnham is “not viable”, Buckinghamshire Council has said as a campaign to reopen Burnham Park Academy grows.

The council made the claim to a local resident in an email shared with the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

In another email, the unitary authority also appeared to admit that it is considering “selling” the former Burnham Park Academy on Opendale Road.

Local parent James Farrance, 45, claimed the disclosures showed that Burnham, which sits near the border with Berkshire, was a “forgotten” part of Buckinghamshire.

He told the LDRS: “It is shocking really isn’t it. I believe the land and site are very restrictive in relation to development. Burnham is almost a forgotten part of Buckinghamshire.”

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The estate agent has a son aged two, and daughter aged five, who he says will one day need a local non-selective secondary school, unless they are able to pass the 11 Plus exam to get into a grammar or other selective school.

He said: “A lot of kids are having to go quite far to go to school. A lot of them have to go to Maidenhead, which is putting pressure on Maidenhead.

“If you don’t pass the 11 Plus and you’re in Burnham, you’re screwed. It is complete and utter hogwash.”

A campaign to reopen Burnham Park Academy has grown in recent months as residents, politicians and parents have rallied to secure a new non-selective secondary school for local children.

The former comprehensive closed in 2019 after being rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted and has since been used to film Netflix TV series ‘Heartstopper’.

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The ‘New Secondary School for Burnham’ campaign claims that the 70 per cent of local children who do not pass the 11 Plus must therefore travel out of the area to school, costing parents hundreds of pounds a term.

The nearest secondary schools available to children are Burnham Grammar School and non-selective Sikh faith school Pioneer Secondary Academy in Stoke Poges.

A local resident told the LDRS: “Of course, nobody wants their children to attend a badly run school, however, according to the campaign, there is a demand for the school to be reopened.”

However, a Bucks Council email to a resident last week, seen by the LDRS, claims that data shows insufficient appetite for a new secondary school in Burnham.

A Bucks Council official wrote: “In addition to our own data, recent information from the Department for Education shows that there are currently only 100-130 pupils in each year group who are resident in the Burnham area and are on roll with either a Buckinghamshire non-grammar school or a school in another local authority.

“This is unfortunately not enough to sustain a viable school, even if it could be guaranteed that they would all choose to attend a school in Burnham over one in a neighbouring area.”

Anita Cranmer, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, said the Council would have to make a case to the Department for Education to open a new school.

She said: “The closure of Burnham Park Academy was a decision taken by the Secretary of State, not the council, because of falling educational standards and decreasing student numbers.

"Even before the school’s difficulties many families in Burnham chose to send their children to a secondary school in Maidenhead.

"There are two other secondary schools in Buckinghamshire within five miles of Burnham and Burnham families would qualify for free home to school transport to their nearest one.

"To open a new school, the council has to justify a need to the Department for Education.

"At the moment, the data shows there are enough school places already to meet demand in the Burnham area such that a new school would either not have sufficient pupils to remain viable or negatively impact on the intake of neighbouring schools.

"With regards to the future of the site, the council has an obligation to make best use of its property assets.

"As a council, we are still exploring options for the site including potential uses for children and families, and are yet to reach a final decision."