Document reveals details of Norfolk academy

STEVE DOWNES A controversial new high school with a Christian ethos that is planned for Norwich looks set to be called the Open Academy, the EDP can today reveal.The likely name is set out in the £25m academy's draft education brief, which the EDP has gained access to a few weeks before it is finalised and released.

STEVE DOWNES

A controversial new high school with a Christian ethos that is planned for Norwich looks set to be called the Open Academy, the EDP can today reveal.

The likely name is set out in the £25m academy's draft education brief, which the EDP has gained access to a few weeks before it is finalised and released.

The 53-page document sets out the vision of the two sponsors, Christian businessman Graham Dacre and the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James.

It confirms their determination to run the academy with a “Christian ethos and culture” - but spells out that it would be open to all children in the Heartsease area, regardless of their beliefs and ability.

The document confirms that the sponsors want to appoint a school chaplain and have a “sacred space” in the school where children can find “time and space for meditation and quiet reflection”.

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The name “Open Academy” ties in with the other big project initiated by Mr Dacre, the Open Youth Trust, which is developing the Open youth venue in the former Barclays Bank building in the centre of Norwich.

In their foreword, the sponsors say they consider the opportunity to support an academy in Heartsease as “an act of Christian service”.

They add: “This stems from our faith that the love of God should be seen in our lives and that we should care for and seek to serve others.”

The project, which would see a £25m-plus building built to replace the existing Heartsease High School, is currently out to public consultation. The next public meeting is at The Canary on Watling Road, Norwich, on Wednesday at 7.30pm.

Among the other aspects highlighted in the education brief are:

t a screen at the heart of the school with a rolling display for each of the young people, allowing them to say what they have learned and achieved

t dedicated social spaces for boys and girls

t an act of collective worship each day, with a “thought for the day”

t a designated personal adviser for each child

t a “safe space” where children can go to resolve their differences and make up when they are upset with each other

t a fair trade school shop, actual and on-line, with the students running their own accounts

t the environmental specialism seen in the use of solar panels, photo-voltaic cells, infra-red controls on lighting and water, use of recycled paper and rainwater, automatic switch-off on computers

t at the heart of the design would be the academy's “forum” - an amphitheatre setting, full of technology, wizardry and innovation, where the young people can sit, mix, socialise and have fun. A “magnificent space, a magical space”.

The plan is for the academy to have 750 pupils, plus 200 in the sixth form.

It would have two specialisms - environment and business enterprise. The document says it should be an “eco school”, a “local, national and regional exemplar of all that's good in protecting, sustaining and enhancing the environment”.

The sponsors are committing £2m to the project, with the rest to come from the Department for Education and Skills if it gets the go-ahead.