THE principal of a new free school was quizzed by shocked parents over its move from Bournemouth town centre.

Terry Conaghan told a public meeting the decision has been made to move Parkfield School to a site at Bournemouth Airport as a proposed move to the sites of the old police station and courts in Stafford Road was taking too long.

He told a gathering of parents at the Life Centre in Winton that contracts will be signed in the current weeks for the government to purchase the former air traffic control centre.

One parent said he knew of only one other school in the world which is so close to an airport.

“This does seem like a bottom of the barrel kind of site,” he said.

When Mr Conaghan said he knew of other schools near Heathrow Airport, the father responded that from this site “you could throw a tennis ball and hit an aircraft”.

Parents raised fears about transport to the new site and Mr Conaghan said the school would not be able to subsidise bus services from town.

But he added that parent groups are looking at funding a bus service and that arrangements would be announced in time for parents to make a decision before the school is expected to move in September 2015.

Mr Conaghan said there is going to be “a degree of air pollution from the airport,” but said there “is probably more air pollution” and “as much noise pollution” at the current site.

He said it is “not the perfect situation” as he always wanted the school to remain in Bournemouth “but we have very little choice at the moment,” he added.

As a free school it is being funded by the Government but is outside local authority control.

Parents upbeat over facilities

PARENTS praised the way their children had been taught at the school and many were upbeat about the new facilities at Bournemouth Airport.

Some parents said they would wait until they heard about what transportation could be arranged before making a decision on their child’s future.

Terry Conaghan, principal at Parkfield School, said Bournemouth council is not allowing them to remain in their current base at Dorset House in Christchurch Road.

He said the new eight-acre site provided bigger, purpose-built classrooms, outside space, 415 car park spaces, a canteen, large internal open spaces and room for a new sports hall and nursery.

He said it will allow them “to facilitate the curriculum, ethos and vision of the school”.

The school – for ages four to 19 – had been looking at the possibility of knocking down the old town centre police station.

It was also looking at taking over the coroner’s and magistrates courts in Stafford Road, which are still in operation.