Sponsor announced for first ever Lowestoft free school

The former Carlton Colville Primary School site on Hall Road, Carlton Colville, as photographed in 2

The former Carlton Colville Primary School site on Hall Road, Carlton Colville, as photographed in 2012. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

The sponsor has been announced for Lowestoft's first ever free school.

Catch22, a 200-year-old non-profit organisation, will sponsor the new school, due to open in Carlton Colville next year.

The school is one of 77 new free schools announced by Justine Greening in September 2016, two of which will be in Lowestoft. The second is planned for Oulton.

Catch22 is a social business that provides justice and rehabilitation services, apprenticeships and employability, substance misuse and children's social care programmes. The group opened its first alternative provision school in 2011.

The Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, approved the recommendation, put forward by Suffolk County Council, for Catch22 to be the sponsor of the new school which will take around 50 students from Years 5 to 11.

The free school will be located on the former site of Carlton Colville Primary School, in Hall Road.

It will not be the first time a free school has stood on the site, in September 2012 Beccles Free School moved to the site temporarily after Carlton Colville Primary School moved to the former Gisleham Middle School site, as part of a Suffolk County Council school organisation review.

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The review abolished middle schools and replaced the three tier educational system with a two tier system.

However, refurbishment is needed before the new Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) school can open on the site and the work will go out to tender in the New Year.

Over the next few months Catch22 will run a consultation for the local community to agree the specifics of the provision.

Cllr Gordon Jones, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Education and Skills, said: 'Catch22 has a strong history of providing young people with specialist education that supports them to progress and succeed, and has a number of existing schools that are all rated Good by Ofsted.

'Our aim is to open the school in 2017, however discussions are ongoing with Catch22 and we will be working with them as the sponsor, as well as with pupils, parents and carers on the schedule for the school opening.'

Tracy Pepper, Director of Education at Catch22 commented: 'We are thrilled to be working with the County Council and existing education community to improve the outcomes of young people in Suffolk.

'We are proud of the transformative impact that the Catch22 model has on the lives of our pupils, and look forward to having the same impact for pupils of the new free school in Carlton Colville.'

Anne Humphrys, Co-Chair of the Suffolk Parent Carer Network, said: 'Suffolk Parent Carer Network (SPCN) welcomes this announcement of provision for children and young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs. We look forward to being invited by Catch 22 to be involved in the work to ensure that this educational provision is co-designed with parents, carers and young people to meet the needs of the children and young people of Suffolk.'

SEMH are a type of special educational needs in which children struggle to build relationships and can find it difficult engaging with mainstream education.

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