PARENTS have launched a rallying cry for a new Reading secondary on the former Elvian School site to ease the "desperate" pressure on places.

The West Reading Education Network (WREN) was set up last month by parents who helped launch the town's first free school, All Saints Junior, and the group is now working on a bid for a six-form entry secondary school, opening in September 2014.

Mischa Tytel, who is leading the group with Nik Rusic, said parents came together again after discovering Reading Borough Council was holding community meetings to discuss the crisis.

He added: "We realised there was a serious problem, and we decided we had to do something about it."

An application for 193 homes on the former Elvian and Presentation College site in Southcote was thrown out last month after Reading's education leader, Cllr John Ennis, argued that the borough's urgent need for classroom places meant replacing the school buildings with houses was unacceptable.

Mr Tytel, who has two sons, Jacob, five, and Isaac, three, said: "When the plans were rejected, it provided a good opportunity for us to move quickly and we have achieved a lot."

Reading West MP Alok Sharma and the borough council are backing the school, and WREN has teamed up with Reading education trust CfBT to submit a bid by Wednesday, December 19.

Mr Tytel said: "It is a very big task to make the school viable in one month and this is on a much bigger scale than All Saints, involving a much larger community, so we really need the support of parents in the central and west Reading areas."

He added: "People must have their say to demonstrate the need for this, we need the community to fill the survey out to make the school a reality."

Meetings will be held next week for people to get information on the bid. They will take place at Battle Library on Tuesday from 3.30-6.30pm, and at All Saints Junior School hall on Friday, December 7, from 4.30-7.30pm, and Sunday, December 9, from 5.30-7.30pm.

Visit to fill in the consultation form.

*A separate group of parents, as reported in Reading Midweek, is working on a bid for a two-form entry primary school in the Caversham Heights or Mapledurham area, opening in September 2014. Visit to complete an online survey.