Early support for Norfolk outdoor school plan - but what do you think?

A radical idea to make the whole of Norfolk the base for Britain's largest split-site school has received early support from a host of parents.

Charity The Benjamin Foundation is consulting the public over its plan to enable hundreds of youngsters to leave the classroom behind and learn in the great outdoors.

So far, almost three-quarters (74pc) of people who have given their views have supported Benjamin's School, which aims to inspire a generation of children who may be non-plussed by mainstream methods.

On the Facebook page that is garnering views, Nicola Tondeur said the current education system 'stifled' her son's learning.

She added: 'We are all extraordinary and all children deserve the chance to shine. The more I read about your plans the more sure I am that this is the right way forward.'


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Steve Smith said: 'Any school that can provide education that is flexible and tailored has got to be a progressive way forward.'

And Donna Snowling said: 'I too think this sounds like the perfect school for my 10-year-old son. The children here in Norfolk would really benefit from this kind of learning approach.'

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Charity chief executive Richard Draper welcomed the early responses, but asked for more comments to enable officials to gauge interest levels.

He said: ''After only a week of consultation, the responses we've received from the people in Norfolk suggest that there is a real demand for a school like Benjamin's in the area.

'We are hoping that lots more people respond to our survey, in the hope that we can gain an even better understanding of people's needs.'

Of the 74pc of people who have supported the idea, 52.5pc said they would be prepared to send their children to the school, the charity wants to establish at locations in the north, south, east and west of the county and in Norwich. Talks are already at an advanced stage for a high-profile base in North Norfolk and a made-to-measure building in Great Yarmouth.

The buildings, which will also include residential areas for children who want to board or who have long distances to travel, would be used as 'launching pads' for the students to get out to farms, fields, nature reserves, theatres and factories to learn.

The Benjamin Foundation's aim is to set it up as a free school, which is a new model where schools are directly funded by the government and set up by groups of parents, teachers, charities or businesses.

An application could be made by June this year, with a target start date of September 2012.

* Find out more and give your views by visiting the Facebook page – Benjamin's School or following @benjaminsschool on Twitter.

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