Can you code Shakespeare? Tech-focused free school wants to open in Redbridge

People from the Thomas Lucas Academy's application. Volunteers Caitlin Graham and Janice Oommen, pro

People from the Thomas Lucas Academy's application. Volunteers Caitlin Graham and Janice Oommen, project director Florence Orban, proposal group member Emma Thompson and Lucy MacDonald, another volunteer. - Credit: Archant

Fancy coding Hamlet, or making an app to find your friends? A new tech-focused free school could be opening in Redbridge in 2019.

The Thomas Lucas Academy, proposed by a group of teachers, parents and the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB), submitted an application to the Department for Education (DfE) yesterday.

If successful the free school will open in September 2019, with 180 Year 7 pupils, rising to 1,140 students three years later, including a sixth form.

A site has not yet been confirmed, but following a community consultation the applicants decided the academy will be in south west of the borough – Ilford, Wanstead or Gants Hill.

Up to five per cent of the pupils will be visually impaired, and academy proposal group member Emma Thompson told the Recorder those students will be “fully integrated”.

“Some schools have a special education section but at ours they will have their lessons alongside the other students,” she said.

“We are going to make sure the teachers get the required support.”

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Ms Thompson explained the academy will have a definite focus on technology and digital learning.

“We have consulted with a lot of tech experts and found not many schools put enough emphasis on getting students technologically literate.

“Pupils will study coding and other tech subjects so they are digitally set up for life.”

There will be a strong focus on this within traditional classes as well.

“Say they’re studying Hamlet we may say translate that into code,” she continued.

“We will also have a school app which will help visually impaired students find their friends.”

Ms Thompson said that the tech focus drew the trust to the borough.

“Redbridge is at the door step of Tech City at Old Street roundabout.

“We know there has been development, we know there will be population growth and we thought it would be a great place to open a new free school.”

Ms Thompson paid tribute to everyone who contributed to the consultation.

If the application is approved the next stage will be an interview with the DfE.

Interested parents can find out more details at