‘Free’ school planned for Retford

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PLANS have been announced for a new free school in Retford which could divert 1,360 pupils and significant funding from state education in Notts.

Yorkshire Nationwide Schools (YNS) have revealed their vision for North Notts Independent Grammar School – an all-through school for youngsters aged four to 18.

And, if it receives an expression of interest from over 400 parents by 27th May, the primary, secondary and sixth form sites could be up and running by September 2012.

The plans have been criticised by teaching union NASUWT, who say free schools will place a massive and unnecessary burden on local authorities, and will force job losses in existing schools.

A spokesman said: “Free schools and academies are the clearest example of the intention of the coalition Government to turn state education into a free market free-for-all, and to provide opportunities for the private sector to make a profit out of state-funded schools.”

But YNS chief executive John Morahan (pictured) argued this was not the case.

“Free schools must be set up and operated as not-for-profit organisations,” he said.

“There have been a number of ill-informed criticisms of free schools being used by businesses to ‘line their pockets’ – this simply cannot happen.”

“And, contrary to critics’ suspicions, all teachers at our free schools will be fully-qualified.”

Free schools aim to promote ‘grammar school standards without selection’, featuring smaller class sizes, a strong moral and disciplinary ethos and a commitment to the English Baccalaureate.

Said Mr Morahan: “All free schools are funded directly from the Department of Education, and they must adhere to the admissions code in the same way as other publicly-funded schools. The message is simple and an urgent one – if parents want free schools in Retford for 2012, they must tell us now.”

YNS is still exploring suitable sites in the Retford area. The organisation is also proposing to open an all-through school in Worksop for 1,380 pupils – scheduled to open in 2013.

n To find out more about YNS and proposals for the new free school, visit www.yns.org.uk or call 01709 583536.