“Pioneering” free school given the go-ahead

SUFFOLK will be England’s first county to set up a free school following an announcement by the secretary of state for education.

Michael Gove formally approved plans yesterday for the Stour Valley Community School in Clare - which is due to open in September.

The news follows a four-year campaign by a community group to secure a replacement for the town’s middle school which is set to close this summer.

Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk, said the decision was fully deserved and would see Suffolk as a pioneering county in the future direction of education in England.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted at this news which is fully deserved. This has been a very long road for a number of extraordinarily dedicated people determined to secure a new school in their community. I cannot think of a group of people who have worked harder for this outcome ever since they were told the middle school system would end.

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“This is a matter of great pride to Suffolk and will give more parents a better choice of where they send their children to school - this is a wonderful step forward for education in the country.”

Christine Inchley, who was recruited as the new school’s headteacher last year, said: “This is fantastic news for the wider Clare community. The school will provide a new standard of education for 11-16 year olds from both sides of the Suffolk/Essex border.”

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When the school opens in the Autumn there will be 210 places in years seven, eight and nine, with plans to accommodate 540 students by 2015.

Free schools - a central part of the coalition government’s education policy - will be independently run, but state funded, organisations set up by parents and community groups.

Mrs Inchley will be holding an open evening for all interested parents and their children in the existing Clare Middle School at 7.00pm on Tuesday 25th January.

For those unable to attend the meeting the application form for September 2011 entry to the school will be available on the Stour Valley Community School website at www.stourvalleyeducation.org.

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