29 July 2020

Following a recent announcement by the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, it has been confirmed that YMCA Heart of England’s application to sponsor a new Alternative Provision Free School has been approved.


The YMCA George Williams Academy, named after YMCA’s founder, will be established in Nuneaton and will provide places for up to 64 pupils from across North Warwickshire aged 11-16 to receive alternative provision education. Staffed by specially trained teachers and support staff, the school will give young people who have been, or are at risk of being, excluded from mainstream education, the opportunity to continue to engage in learning.

The board of governors for the school will be chaired by YMCA Vice President, David Kershaw, CBE. Mr Kershaw was a Head teacher in Coventry for 20 years and in part-time retirement, Head of three challenging schools and is currently Chief Executive Officer of Central Academies Trust, supporting a school in Birmingham. He said

“I am delighted that YMCA’s application to establish a new alternative provision free school has been approved. This is the result of several years hard work by YMCA and I am proud to be part of the team that will turn their vision into a reality.

“I know from my years as a head teacher, that there is a significant number of young people for whom mainstream education is not allowing them to flourish. YMCA has worked with these young people for many years in our youth clubs, community programmes and housing schemes. We feel we have the skills and experience needed to work with them in a more formal education setting to make sure that they can reach their full potential.

“Warwickshire County Council identified that there is a real need for additional school places to serve some of our most vulnerable young people. By working with them, we can now not only meet that shortfall, but, by setting the highest standards, ensure that all the pupils who attend have the opportunity to thrive.”

Discussions between the new academy trust, Nuneaton & Bedworth Council and Warwickshire County Council are underway with a view to providing a new building for the school on Bermuda Park in Nuneaton. It is hoped that the new school will be opened in September 2022.