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New Norwich school gets government green light

PUBLISHED: 16:22 06 February 2014 | UPDATED: 16:22 06 February 2014

Claire Heald principal of Jane Austen College outside the building on Colegate, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Claire Heald principal of Jane Austen College outside the building on Colegate, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

A proposed free school in the heart of Norwich has moved a significant step closer after a funding agreement was signed with the government.

Bosses at the Jane Austen College said the agreement from the Department for Education means it is “full steam ahead” for the new secondary school and sixth form, which will cater for 1,100 pupils once fully up and running.

The school, which would specialise in the humanities, is on target to open in September in a 72,000 sq ft, five storey office building in Colegate.

Claire Heald, principal, said of the funding agreement: “It’s hugely important because it is the green light from the Department for Education that they are completely happy with our recruitment numbers and educational plans and means we are set for opening in September.

“It is wonderful news. It means we can now recruit staff and everything is full steam ahead.”

The secondary school and sixth form, which is sponsored by the Inspiration Trust, will offer places to 180 pupils in Year 7 and 100 in the sixth form, and grow over the following five years.

Ms Heald said about 90pc of places in the two year groups to start in September had already gone, with students wanting to come from Norwich and further afield.

She said: “They are coming from a wide geographical area. There’s quite a few from central Norwich and are pretty evenly spread out. There’s also some coming from 20 to 25 miles away, but the majority are from Norwich.”

A staff recruitment evening was held earlier this week and Ms Heald said: “We have had 100 plus inquiries and we aim to recruit most of the teaching staff in the next two to three weeks.”

A planning application for the school was recently withdrawn so concerns about narrow pavements outside can be addressed.

Ms Heald said the school was prepared to invest in improvements and hoped for a swift resolution.

• Do you have a school story? Call education reporter Martin George on 01603 772468 or email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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