Norfolk County Council support is key to Future Education’s free school bid
The support of the county council is 'paramount' to the success of a bid to create a Free School for Norwich pupils excluded from mainstream education, it has been claimed.
Future Education, part of Future Projects, is in the final stages of completing its application to become a Free School which it will submit at the end of February.
Dennis Freeman, school manager, said the team behind the bid – which is aimed at saving the existing threatened service – was now focusing its efforts on winning the support of the community. Already three of the city's high schools – City Academy Norwich, Notre Dame High, and Sprowston High – have given it their backing in principal.
And Future Education has launched a website where members of the public can signal their support and register their interest in the Free School.
But Mr Freeman said the most important element would be the support of Norfolk County Council, which last year withdrew funding for the Motum Road school. He said: 'That is paramount. If we don't get that support our bid will struggle. We have got it in principle but it will come to a point where we will want them to say they will definitely need us and there is a definite need for this provision.'
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Fred Corbett, assistant director of children's services, said the authority had been helping and encouraging Future Education with their bid.
But the county council is unable to guarantee how many children it would fund to attend the school if it got the go ahead. He said: 'We want their application to be successful and believe they will be able to provide valuable additional provision for some of the county's most vulnerable young people.
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'Although we cannot commission places in advance for 2013/14 and cannot identify which provision academies will use to meet the needs of their students, we are confident that if Future can provide the high quality anticipated, the proposed new free school will complement the existing alternative education in the county and there will be a need for the places it hopes to provide.'
Mr Freeman said he was confident the need was there and Future Education was looking at the number of pupils excluded in Norfolk last year to back that up.
He added: 'Our big selling point is that, if we keep the children in education, we stop them becoming NEETs [not in education, employment or training]. That's a big saving to the government.'
To register your interest in the Future Education Free School, visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/2K5V7V8