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

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A planning application for the school was recently withdrawn so concerns about narrow pavements outside can be addressed.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

21 comments

  • FREE CHOICE ! Parents able to choose the school,outside of socialist control,a wonderful initiative !

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • That's right 'fine city'. No track record of results. Suspiciously appointed leadership. Scrabbling around to find staff. Lets all send our children there anyway. Its not as if it's their future or anything.

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • I have an idea. What if we were to take the politics out of education? Perhaps focus can then be concentrated on improving the falling standards and results of Norfolk's children.

    Report this comment

    Bruce87

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • I wonder how much the land that the Hewett School is on worth? Handy sale for whoever owns it if it becomes vacant with planning permission?

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • Perhaps, Pablo, it will give the existing schools the kick up the backside they so obviously need. SJLHS in Beccles is producing better results since the opening of the local Free School - coincidence? If the demand isn't there the schools will not open, simple as......

    Report this comment

    becclesboy

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • Albert, Norfolk schools generally are controlled by Norfolk County Council. None are controlled by Norwich City Council. Norfolk until recently has been Conservative

    Report this comment

    GWhizz

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • No green open spaces for PE, traffic chaos, poor Hewett school nearly 500k in deficit ( with loads of space and under subscribed) this could have been an incredibly positive partnership. Oh wait, partnership working and free schools.... Mmmmm, they don't go together, do they? This could have been a wonderfully positive turning point - but we only have to see the senior management set up to realise what is happening. Could make for a great Panorama programme..... BBC - step in please!

    Report this comment

    snowdrop

    Sunday, February 9, 2014

  • How much is this costing the tax payer? Please Archant press find out - use the freedom of information act. What iswas the cost of these city centre buildings and their refurbishment (if we include the other 2 Norwich Free schools). Norwich does not need any new secondary schools. What is the knock-on effect on other secondary schools? Only recently you published an article on the Hewett's shortfall in money as a result of falling rolls. It is ridiculous that so much government money is being spent on these unneeded schools in a time of cutbacks, and all to satisfy the vanity of Michael Gove and his Free School project. You could, perhaps, make a case for them if there was a need. How will these schools be accountable and who to? The DFE, not the local population and the LEA, which is at least accountable through local democracy (we elect the councillors, who appoint local officers to run the service, however imperfectly). How can the LEA plan education in this mad free for all of academies and free schools?

    Report this comment

    pablo

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • A Norwich school in a central position and 'pupils want to come from further away' is a recipe for transport chaos. This should be monitored from day one by City Hall, because if only 10 % is coming from outside Norwich this will mean 100 extra vehicles. Sadly those who think that Free schools and academies are run by altruismn fail to see the huge sums they are subsidised with, on a moral whimsy, money that is not available for our other already existing schools such as the Hewett. Gtood point Frodo, who has their eye on the Hewett school, they already sold off half of their land to some footie outfit with little prospect, are they just a front? playing politics with childrens education, again and again and again, political disruption for moral, not educational reasons, making parents except total control over our children so as to mould them in the common purpose? Gove now talks of schooling 4 year olds, is that another condition Mr. Agnew has put on his party donations?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, February 7, 2014

  • No green open spaces for PE, traffic chaos, poor Hewett school nearly 500k in deficit ( with loads of space and under subscribed) this could have been an incredibly positive partnership. Oh wait, partnership working and free schools.... Mmmmm, they don't go together, do they? This could have been a wonderfully positive turning point - but we only have to see the senior management set up to realise what is happening. Could make for a great Panorama programme..... BBC - step in please!

    Report this comment

    snowdrop

    Sunday, February 9, 2014

  • Socialists say what you wish but I say LET PARENTS DECIDE and give them the choice,which is what the left hate i.e. to have a choice !!

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • Paplo Norwich City Council has been in Labour control since tome immemorial !

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • Bypass Colegate area when the school opens as it will probably be gridlocked with parents taking kids to school. Double yellow lines or not I have seen so many parents abuse these at many schools.

    Report this comment

    JEN

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • This might be true becclesboy but how strange that these vast free sch funds are suddenly available when on the other hand we are in dire straits unless it is Gove's vanity project.

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • What rubbish......even that great bastion of the market economy USA doesn't give the consumer total freedom since democratically elected Governments are elected to provide service, governance and leadership which includes schools, the police etc. This is nothing to do with socialism.

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • There is already competition. Whilst there are poor performing schools, teachers and Management, how will another one in Norwich improve matters?

    Report this comment

    A fine city

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • POWER to the parents !

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • No green open spaces for PE, traffic chaos, poor Hewett school nearly 500k in deficit ( with loads of space and under subscribed) this could have been an incredibly positive partnership. Oh wait, partnership working and free schools.... Mmmmm, they don't go together, do they? This could have been a wonderfully positive turning point - but we only have to see the senior management set up to realise what is happening. Could make for a great Panorama programme..... BBC - step in please!

    Report this comment

    snowdrop

    Sunday, February 9, 2014

  • Albert, there has been nothing remotely resembling socialism in Norwich and Norfolk ever! We did have a mixed economy in this country until the 80s, where the state controlled the commanding heights of the economy (water, gas electricity etc) until Thatcher sold it all off to finance tax cuts for the rich. I wonder how much better of we'd be today if the state still controlled them.

    Report this comment

    pablo

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • Great news - and 90% full already. That shows there is a demand. Good luck to them all. If you've got falling rolls, sort yourself out and give parents a reason for entrusting you with their child's education. No school has a divine right to exist. If the existing secondaries were any good then no one would want to send their children anywhere else. Norfolk is full of poor ones and that's the scandal.

    Report this comment

    a fine city

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • Could I ask what connection Jane Austen had with Norwich and Norfolk to justify the promoters of this project appropriating her name for their venture?

    Report this comment

    Old Hand

    Sunday, February 9, 2014

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