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Will the Adastral Park secondary school be a free school and how are free schools different?

PUBLISHED: 19:00 12 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:52 13 February 2019

The 2,000 homes planned for Adastral Park will feature a new secondary school. PIcture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The 2,000 homes planned for Adastral Park will feature a new secondary school. PIcture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A bid has been launched by an academy trust for a new secondary school planned for the 2,000-home Adastral Park development to be a free school.

Suffolk County Council supplied information requested by the Department for Education for two free school planned under the latest wave of applications by academy trusts, according to government data published last week.

One was for the Tucker-Baptist Multi-Academy Trust – although a location for that has not been disclosed – while the second is for the Adastral Park scheme in Martlesham, also known as the Brightwell Lakes development.

A spokeswoman from Suffolk County Council’s education team said: “Suffolk County Council is assisting the Department for Education with their application process for the two free schools by responding to information requests.

“Our understanding is that both applications are for schools on large housing developments so if one or both applications were unsuccessful Suffolk County Council would develop the education infrastructure when required to serve these two new communities using the land and associated contributions from the developers.”

The Department for Education was approached for comment but said it was unable to disclose the potential opening dates if approved, when a decision would be made on the bids or how many pupils each school would cater for.

However, in September 2017, cabinet member for education Gordon Jones said two new high schools in the area – one for the Ipswich Garden Suburb (Northern Fringe) development and one for Adastral Park were anticipating easing pressure on oversubscribed schools in the area by around 1,500 pupils.

It is believed the Adastral Park school, which will be a part of a scheme of more than 2,000 homes being built in the area, will cater for around 600 pupils.

Existing high schools in the area, including Northgate, St Alban’s, Copleston and Kesgrave are already operating at capacity.

Free schools are funded by central government and have greater freedom over staff pay, the hours of a school day, and what curriculum is taught.

They are run as non-profit making enterprises and must cater for all abilities, meaning academic performance cannot be used as a selection measure.

It followed government changes in 2010 for all new schools to either be free schools or academies, instead of establishments run by the local authority.

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