Classroom

Gove approves new free schools

Education Secretary Michael Gove has given the go-ahead to a number of new free schools in the region.

Protestors outside the Beccles Free School which opened today

Free Schools fight on

Controversial Free Schools have defied their critics and opened today in Bedford and Beccles.

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Free School opens in old Fire Station

The sixth form is in a converted fire station Credit: ITV

A Norwich Free School, the Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, has moved into the city's Old Fire Station.

The sixth form, which specialises in maths and science, has been running in temporary classrooms for two terms while the listed building was converted into a school.

The station yard has become a canteen Credit: ITV News Anglia

The architects have retained many of the features of the old fire station, creating open spaces for students to gather.

The tender hall where the fire engines were kept is now a lecture theatre.

Dr Mark Evans, in the tender hall/lecture theatre Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Principal, Dr Mark Evans, says the building will add to the students' learning experience.

"It speaks of 70 years of fire engines parked in this very spot, of course the poles in the corner of the room are listed and the doors themselves have been kept, though we've put in a little extra glass."

"The whole space will always say fire station, important norwich heritage, as well as cutting edge science school."

The old doors with extra glass Credit: ITV News Anglia

Tomorrow evening at 7pm, the school will hold an open day, both for prospective parents and for visitors interested in the building's story.

Free school reveals proposed site

The city centre site of a new free school in Norwich has been unveiled.

Jane Austen College will open in September next year in office buildings currently occupied by Aviva in Colegate.

The five-storey premises will include an auditorium for drama, library, music rooms and study areas for pupils.

Work will begin once Aviva has moved out in March.

The secondary school and sixth form will specialise in English and the humanities.

It will offer places to 180 pupils in Year 7 and 100 in the sixth form when it opens in 2014.

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Turning an old fire station into a school

The Schools Minister, Lord Nash, has spent a second day in Norfolk looking at how to turn around some of the county's beleagured schools.

He visited the Isaac Newton Free School in Norwich, which is due to open next term, as a specialist science and maths sixth form, in the city's historic former fire station.

Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Kate Prout

Free school funding revealed

It's emerged the government gave two 'free' schools in Suffolk more than £1.5 million each to help them in their first year of operation.

Both Saxmundham and Beccles Free Schools opened in 2012. Each was given £1.6 million in addition to their regular per-pupil funding.

The figures were published by the Department for Education, following a Freedom of Information request. The department said the funding was essential to meet the additional costs of starting a new school.

The Government has spent almost £60 million supporting the first 76 free schools. Around 200 more are due to open from this September onwards.

Plans submitted for Free School specialising in science

How the new school could look

Plans have been put to Norfolk City Council to convert the former fire station in Bethel Street Norwich into the country's first free school specialising in maths and science.

If the plans get the go ahead the Isaac newton Sixth Form will open in September with an initial intake of 220 pupils with a further 200 the following year.

As the building is Grade II listed many of the original features will have to be kept including the iconic wooden doors and the drill tower.

A public consultation will continue until March 1st with a final decision made on May 10th.

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Bedford Free School 'will open'

by Elodie Harper, Education Correspondent
Principal Mark Lehain showing pupils around prospective school site earlier this year Credit: ITV Anglia

Bedford Free School says it will open on the 6th September; even though it was denied planning permission by Bedford Borough Council for the second time on Monday night.

The application had been recommended for approval by council officers, but the planning committee voted against it after raising concerns about child safety, congestion and parents picking up and dropping off pupils on Cauldwell Street.

In response the Governors of Bedford Free School have issued the following statement:

"We will be opening in September as planned and I take this opportunity to thank our parents for their magnificent and loyal support."

“We have legal advice which says that the building already has the required planning permission, as granted to leasees Bedford College earlier in the year. We have the approval of the Government department which is funding the school, plus Ofsted approval and the support of parents and pupils.

"We have an appeal against the planning decision scheduled for 25th September and we will win. In the meantime we have the important business of a school to open and pupils to welcome."

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