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.