‘Free’ school in the pipeline for Redbridge

A COMMUNITY-run free school could be up and running within a year after a bid was made to get one opened in Redbridge.

The primary school, earmarked for in, or near, Newbury Park, will be run by academy sponsor E-Act.

It wants to know if parents living in the borough are interested in the idea of having a free school on their doorstep, before it decides whether to make a formal submission to the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove at the end of this month.

If E-Act does choose to press on with its plans, a reception and year one class with a total of 120 pupils will open in September next year, before catering for up to 420 pupils by 2016.

It says it needs to act “quickly” to open a new primary school.

The controversial free school model was introduced by the coalition government and gives groups including parents, teachers and businesses the chance to run their own school free of local authority control.

Mark Greatrex, of E-Act, said the need for extra schools places in Redbridge had drawn the academy sponsor to the borough.

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He said: “We are experienced in developing schools and academies where pupils thrive both academically and across the range of school life – in sport, the arts and personal development.

“We think there is a demand for an outstanding primary free school in Redbridge and we’d like to hear from parents who would support the plan.”

E-Act plans to take over a disused building in the borough, possibly a former block of offices, to house the new school.

It says it will provide a playground, even though planning rules for free schools are more lax.

If conditional agreement is given by Mr Gove, E-Act will have to write a full business case in support of the new free school before a formal contract is signed with the government minister.

Hitting out at the plan, Graham Edwards, of the Anti Academies Alliance, said a free school would “destroy the education system”.

Parents can contact E-Act by emailing mark.greatrex@e-act.org.uk