New primary school may be built in Norwich by chain run by Dame Rachel de Souza

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

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

A 400-pupil primary school could be built in Norwich, adding to the chain of academies run by Dame Rachel de Souza.

PA Library photo of, naturalist Charles Darwin. PA Photos

PA Library photo of, naturalist Charles Darwin. PA Photos - Credit: PA

The Inspiration Trust, whose chief executive is Dame Rachel, hopes that the new Charles Darwin Primary would relieve pressure on places at oversubscribed schools.

It would be the trust's fourth school in Norwich and its second primary in the city, teaching children aged four to 11.

Bosses have written to the Department for Education requesting permission to set up the school, and if given the green light hope to launch it in September 2016.

There is no firm site for the school yet, and it could be a new-build or a conversion of an existing building.

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Claire Heald, executive principal of Jane Austen College in Colegate, is overseeing the Charles Darwin Primary Vision.

She hinted that central Norwich had the greatest need for primary places, and said plans - which have been in the pipeline for a year - had been prompted by demand.

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'Lots of parents with children at Jane Austen College have said they're very happy with what the school is providing,' she said. 'There's also a real need for primary school places in Norwich, and it's a concern for some parents.

'The plans for Charles Darwin Primary were really considering that need for places, and the desire from parents to create a school of high quality.'

She said she would not be principal of the new school, with a new appointment made if plans are approved.

A decision from the DfE is expected in spring.

The school would initially take children in reception and year one, gradually reaching 400 pupils when there are children in all years.

It would work closely with Jane Austen College and Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, working towards provision for children aged three to 19 from the Inspiration Trust.

Asked where the school may be sited, Ms Heald said: 'Where the need is highest is central Norwich, but we don't have a designated site yet.

'If the bid is successful we will look at that more closely.'

She said there had been a positive response from parents, and information events would be held on a date to be fixed to further explain the plans.

'Our curriculum is going to be very much focused on literacy and numeracy, really getting that strong foundation,' she added.

There would be Shanghai maths - aiming to replicate the top results seen in China - and a focus on science.

Pupils in year six would have to stay in school until 5pm each day for a range of extra-curricular activities and time to do homework, with an optional long day for pupils in other years.

Ms Heald said this approach had been successful at Great Yarmouth Primary Academy, which introduced a 45-hour week timetable in 2012.

Headteachers of other schools in the city welcomed the Charles Darwin Primary bid.

Tania Sidney-Roberts, principal of The Free School Norwich, said: 'Free schools have proven to be very popular with a great many parents in Norwich.

'The Free School Norwich was very heavily oversubscribed again this year and our recent open day was also busy.

'Norwich needs more primary school places in the next few years and so a new school which will meet this need is good news for the city.'

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