New free school in Norwich given approval

David Prior, chairman of the Jane Austen College.

David Prior, chairman of the Jane Austen College. - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

A new free school in the centre of Norwich has been given the go-ahead by the government.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has approved 102 new free school applications to open across the country in 2014 and beyond, which includes the Jane Austen College in Norwich.

The secondary school for 1,100 students, which will specialise in English, has been championed by Rachel de Souza, leader at Ormiston Victory Academy, in Costessey.

The school, which has yet to have a confirmed site in Norwich, will have a focus on cultural literacy and traditional academic subjects, with every pupil studying a language until 16, with the option to study Latin.

It is the same team behind the Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, due to open in Bethel Street in September.

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David Prior, chairman of the Jane Austen College project, said the team were working hard to find a location in central Norwich.

'I am delighted. It is really good news for children and parents locally, who will have an opportunity to go to a school with high standards. Parents and children should have choice where they should go to school and too many schools in Norwich are not cutting it at the moment,' he said.

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There are already 81 open free schools across the country, with a further 109 aiming to open in September. Free schools are state-funded schools independent of local authority control and have the freedom to decide the length of the school day and term, the curriculum, and how they spend their money.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: 'There are many innovators in local communities set on raising standards of education for their children. I am delighted to approve so many of their high-quality plans to open a free school. Free schools are extremely popular with parents and are delivering strong discipline and teaching excellence.'

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