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Newquay teachers bid for 'Free School'

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: October 19, 2012

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A GROUP of teachers is planning to open a new primary school in Newquay under the Government's 'Free School' programme, the Cornish Guardian can reveal.

The individuals, who already work in schools across the county, are hoping to capitalise on the resort's coastal location to inspire youngsters in a range of subjects.

They are currently searching for the perfect site in the town and aim to submit a 150-page application to the Department for Education (DfE) in December.

Now they are calling on parents to register an interest in sending their children to the school, in order to convince education secretary Michael Gove to provide funding.

If successful, the new Towan Coast Free School would open its doors in September 2014 and would be invaluable in addressing the town's on-going crisis in primary school places.

This newspaper revealed in February this year that a report by Cornwall Council predicted a shortfall of 168 reception places by 2015.

A spokesman for the proposed free school said: "Newquay seems to be getting bigger and bigger and people haven't been able to get their first choice of school. This will certainly help address the problem.

"We've not told anyone about it yet but now is the time to gauge if there's a desire for this kind of school in the town. We need a list of names of parents who would consider having their child in our school from September 2014 and putting us down as a first choice."

Free schools are similar to academies in that they are funded by the Government but are self-governing and not answerable to local authorities, such as Cornwall Council.

The programme was introduced in 2010 to allow "talented and committed teachers, charities, parents and education experts to open schools to address real demand within an area", according to the DfE.

The spokesman, who wished to remain anonymous until Mr Gove's department has made a decision, said the school's curriculum would be based around outdoor learning, focusing on the history and geography of the town to spark pupils' imagination. There would also be an emphasis on coastal sports and activities, promoting a healthy lifestyle.

"Living where we do it seems a lot of schools don't use the facilities that are on our doorstep," said the spokesman. "We want the children to engage more fully with what we have right here in the town.

"Everyone has become far too focused on getting children through [SAT] tests but by enriching the curriculum this will happen by proxy. If you do this then hopefully subjects like maths and English will also fall into place."

The group plans to have a class of around 30 pupils in the first year, bumping up the size of the school in subsequent years.

A steering group is now being formed and the team hopes to hear whether their application has been successful by next May.

For more information visit the school's website at https://sites.google.com/site/towancoastfreeschool or follow it on Twitter.

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