Future Education’s bid to become next Norwich free school moves forward

A school for Norwich's expelled teenagers is pressing ahead with a bid to become a free school – and needs help from parents to prove how desperately needed it is.

The long-term prospects of Future Education, part of the social inclusion charity Future Projects, were thrown into question earlier this year after a county council contract to provide places for troubled youngsters was awarded to another organisation.

Now the North Earlham school is pinning its hopes – and the future of the Motum Road charity – on plams to become one of the government's latest free schools.

Work has begun on the tough application process and the final bid is due to be submitted to the Department for Education at the end of February.

Dennis Freeman, school manager, said although Future Education was confident that it was already doing a good job for Norwich's excluded teenagers, the challenge was to convince the government that was the case.

He said: 'Our bid is to provide a traditional academic provision for these pupils who are out of full-time education. We have a curriculum centred around English, maths and science at GCSE level, as well as level-two vocational courses.

'We've heard the process is really vigorous and intense. We really have to sell ourselves to secure that funding.'

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The bid has support from local business people – including a former NHS chief executive – who could become governors.

But key to the application is showing the DfE that the school has the support of the county council, local schools and the community it supports. Sonia Bush, co-founder of Future Projects, said they also needed parents of pupils who could benefit from the school to give it their backing. 'We need parents to register their interest,' she said.

If the bid succeeds, it would provide Future Education with money to update its classrooms and resources, as well as giving the charity access to the kind of funding – like the pupil premium and looked-after children funding – available to other schools.

If it fails, the charity will have to find another way to secure its survival – but vowed not to give up. Miss Bush said Future Education was often the last chance for its pupils, who can have behavioural and learning difficulties, or may simply not suit mainstream schools. She said: 'There's absolutely no chance Future Projects will roll over and die. We're committed to families.

'We're in it for the long haul.'

To register your interest in the Future Education Free School, email d.freeman@futureprojects.org.uk.

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