Tunbridge Wells parents put forward free school plans

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Parents in west Kent who fear there will not be enough primary school places in the area have put forward proposals to open a free school.

Jude O'Connor, one of the parents behind the proposals, said the new school could open in Tunbridge Wells in 2013.

Parents said the school would have a "family feel" with small class sizes.

Kent County Council welcomed the proposal but said it was working to increase the number of school places.

'Black hole'

Free schools are funded from the public education budget but the schools are run independently and have the freedom to create their own curriculum.

Ms O'Conner said a rising birth rate and new housing developments had led to the shortage of places.

She said: "Effectively, the catchment areas of the local schools have shrunk, leaving a black hole in the middle of families who have been left without a local school."

Mike Whiting, the cabinet member for education at the Conservative-run council, said he had a budget of about £300m to expand the county's schools over the next three years.

He said: "What I need to do is make sure we have enough places for everybody. We are trying to do that."

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