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Choir school in bid to open free school

07 March 2012

by Margaret Holness

BRISTOL Cathedral Choir School (BCCS), a maintained academy, is seek­ing government approval to open an associated primary school under the Government’s free-school pro­gramme. Its partner in the bid is the independent Wells Cathedral School, which would provide expertise in primary education.

One of only six former inde­pendent schools to opt for academy status, the 630-pupil BCCS is a special­ist music academy. It is the most oversubscribed school in Bristol, and has almost seven applications for every place.

“We wanted to be an all-through school when we opened in 2008. To have a primary school makes sense because of our role in educating choristers. We currently recruit from 43 separate primaries,” the head of BCCS, Neil Blundell, said. The Free School would have a Christian ethos and a creative curriculum, and would be tailored to the needs of individual children, he said.

If the bid gets government ap­proval, the proposers hope that the one-form-entry free school would open in September 2013. A decision by government ministers is expected in the early summer.

A bid for an all-age free school proposed by the C of E Clayton Mem­orial Church, Jesmond, Newcastle-on-Tyne, is going ahead without the backing of Newcastle Diocesan Board of Education, it has emerged (News, 24 February). The New­castle diocesan director of educa­tion, Jeremy Fitt, said this week: “We have met the pro­posers, and they are quite clear that they do not have diocesan support.”

Clayton Memorial Church, and the associated Jesmond Trust, want to open a 700-place free school on the site of a former RC school near the city centre. To be known as the Clayton Academy, it would have a Christian designation and expect to draw pupils from the city and the wider Tyneside area, in­cluding areas of “relative deprivation”, the chairman of the Trust, the Revd Jonathan Pryke, said. Mr Fitt said that the free school would “marginally” affect recruitment to the city’s C of E schools.

Mr Pryke, who is an Assistant Curate at Clayton Memorial Church, said that 50 per cent of places were reserved for children from Christian families.

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