‘Free’ school a boost for Redbridge pupils?

A ‘FREE’ school could provide a boost for education in Redbridge according to one teacher, who is inviting views on setting up one of the new estabishments

A ‘FREE’ school could provide a boost for education in Redbridge according to one teacher, who is inviting views on setting up one of the new estabishments

Mark Gittens, a science teacher at Wanstead High School, Redbridge Lane West, Wanstead, wants to open up a debate on whether a free school - a concept devised by the coalition government - would be welcomed in the borough.

The 51-year-old, who served as a Labour councillor for a matter of days in May before it was found his job as a teacher made him ineligible to stand, thinks bringing one to Chadwell Heath would “boost” the borough’s education landscape.

The government’s free schools gives groups including teachers, parents, businesses and charities the power to establish their own school in response to demand.


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Like academies, they would run free of local authority control.

Mr Gittens, of Flora Gardens, Chadwell Heath, said: “I think there’s a need for a free school, probably a secondary, in the borough, but I would like to hear the views of other people.

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“If people agree there’s a need I’d be interested in taking it further.”

Allaying fears the school would be run by inexperienced people, he said: “It wouldn’t be for parents rebelling. Anyone involved would have to meet government criteria and go through all the rigorous procedures.

“The people involved will know the education system inside out and that would be its great strength.”

Groups looking to set up free schools can get support and advice from the independent charity the New Schools Network.

Government ministers are pledging to cut the red tape which covers the formation of new schools, including planning laws and other rules.

Sixteen free schools will be set up across the country over the next year.

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