Private school bid to be region’s first free

A PRIVATE school in north Northumberland has taken the first step to becoming a Free School which would offer a greater choice in education for local people, according to one of the school heads.

Rock Hall School, near Alnwick, has submitted an initial proposal with the goal of becoming the first Free School in the North East.

Part of the Government’s education policy under Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove, Free Schools are all-ability, state-funded schools set up in response to parental demand. They have control of their own budget as well as freedom to set their own pay and conditions for staff and freedom from the National Curriculum.

So far only nine schools in the country have had proposals to become Free Schools approved .

Avril Lomas, co-principal at Rock Hall School, said: “We feel we have a very good school which follows the National Curriculum but is independent to offer a good academic grounding with a wide range of artistic and outdoor activities.

“We have had a number of people wanting to send their children here and finding it economically difficult.

“Becoming a free school would offer a greater choice for people in the local area. We put out feelers in the local area for demand and we had over 100 phone calls and emails from people to say they would be interested.

“We are offering something that local people would like to have and that appears to be what the Free School initiative is all about.”

Rock Hall School, which was set up in 1984, is currently a preparatory school for boys and girls aged from three to 13.