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Four new free schools announced

24 October 2014

X-posed: head teachers from 300 free schools meet the Prime Minister and Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan

FOUR new Church of England free schools have been given the go-ahead by the Government. They were included in a list of approvals announced at the beginning of October by the Department for Education (DfE). All have the backing of their local authorities as well as diocesan sponsorship.

The Church's chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, said that, between them, the four schools would take more than 2000 children in areas with an urgent need for places. "Their development is consistent with our mission to provide the best possible education in areas that need it most," he said.

North Twyford comprehensive, Ealing, planned for 1000 pupils; and Wynyard primary, Teeside, with 420 primary places, are due to open in September next year. North Twyford will join two over-subscribed secondaries: the long-established Twyford C of E High School, and William Perkins Free School in the Twyford C of E Academies Trust. Wynyard primary will serve an area of new housing near Bellingham.

Two other primaries, St John's, Watford, and Harrow Bilingual Primary School, north London, each providing 420 places, will open in September 2016. St John's is a joint venture between St John's parish, in central Watford, and St Albans diocese. The diocesan director of education, Jon Reynolds, said that it would serve a disadvantaged area that has a severe shortage of places.

The Harrow project is a partnership between a group of parents committed to bilingual education, and the diocese of London, the project-development consultant to the diocese, Penny Roberts, said.

The approvals bring the number of C of E-designated free schools to about 20. The first, St Luke's, Hampstead, based in a converted parish-church undercroft, last month welcomed its fourth intake. Oversubscribed since it started, the school is rated "Good" by OFSTED. Church inspectors rated its Christian ethos "outstanding", Mrs Roberts said.

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