The chief executive of a Norwich special school said he was confident it had a bright future – despite having a free school bid turned down.

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"The reason we’re not really disappointed is because it won’t have any immediate effect on the security of the school or the charity as a whole."

Daniel Childerhouse.

Daniel Childerhouse, of Future Education, said pupil numbers for this September were up 40pc on last year to 20.

And he believes improvements at the Motum Road school, a good working relationship with Norfolk County Council, and the academies movement – which could give headteachers the independence to choose to place students at Future – could help it in years to come.

Mr Childerhouse said hearing the Future Free School bid had been turned down earlier this month was disappointing – but not hugely disappointing.

“The reason we’re not really disappointed is because it won’t have any immediate effect on the security of the school or the charity as a whole,” he said.

“We’re seeing an increase in student numbers of 40pc for September, which is really great news.”

The Future Free School proposal was originally intended as a means of securing the future of the alternative education provider after the withdrawal of a Norfolk County Council contract left it financially vulnerable.

But since then the school has worked on its behaviour management, its mentoring and admission process, to allow it to improve its offering. “Education is a market at the moment and we are there to provide services for secondary schools,” Mr Childerhouse said.

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