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Parents will home-school children if free school closes

Parents outside Durham Free School showed emotion as they said they were 'devastated' by the news that the school will close at Easter.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said funding will stop after it failed to improve following a highly critical Ofsted report in January.

Defiant parents told ITV News Tyne Tees they would continue to fight the closure, and several said if they failed to do so, they would teach their children at home instead.

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'Sufficient places' for Durham Free School pupils

Durham County Council says it has identified 'sufficient places' at alternative schools for pupils currently at Durham Free School.

“Our school admissions team has identified sufficient places at local schools, all of which are rated as at least good by Ofsted, for every student currently studying at this school or who has indicated it as their first choice for this September.

“Many parents have already been in touch and of those a number have also applied for an alternative school place. We will work with parents and receiving schools to ensure that pupils have the smoothest possible transition to their new place of study.

“Any parents who would like support and advice on this can speak with the schools admissions team on 03000 265 896.”

– Caroline O’Neill - Durham County Council

Durham Free School 'to close at Easter'

Durham Free School

Durham Free School is to close at Easter, the Department for Education has announced.

The flagship Free School was told last month that its funding agreement would be terminated if it failed to swiftly come up with an action plan to raise standards.

A fresh letter, published today, says that Education Secretary Nicky Morgan does not believe that the Trust running the school has shown enough evidence that it can bring about improvements.

The school, which has a Christian ethos and opened in September 2013 with just 94 pupils, received a highly critical Ofsted report after an inspection at the end of last year.

Inspectors gave it the lowest ratings for leadership. teaching, behaviour and achievement, placing it in special measures.

In response the school questioned many of Ofsted's findings.

Today's letter, signed by Janet Renou, regional schools commissioner for the North, and addressed to chair of governors John Denning, says:

"Having considered the academy trust's representations, the Secretary of State does not consider that you have provided sufficient evidence to show that the academy trust has the capacity or a suitable strategy to bring about the necessary improvements at Durham Free School. The representations put forward did not full demonstrate that the Trust is seriously addressing weaknesses in areas such as safeguarding pupils, poor attendance, quality of teaching and dealing with a "culture of intolerance of people who have different faiths, values or beliefs."

The letter goes on to say: "In short, your representations have not convinced the Secretary of State that the current governing body and leadership team have the capability to turn the school around swiftly so that it will give its pupils an acceptable standard of education."

It concludes: "We have given careful thought to the effect on pupils of having to move to another school; and we have sought to keep any disruption to a minimum by liaising with Durham County Council regarding provision of alternative school places. With this in mind, the Secretary of State has set the date for termination at the end of the spring term."<

In a statement, the school's chair of governors John Denning said: "It is important that parents are informed by the school of the content of the Regional School's Commissioner letter, and that is our priority at this time. The trust is also consulting its legal advisers."

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'Nap Nook' idea for sleepy students

Students have a reputation for 'burning the candle at both ends' - a life of partying and studying can easily take its toll.

What if they could take a nap?

It's an idea called the "Nap Nook" and it's been imported from America.

Students taking a 40 minute nap Credit: ITV

Sluggish students can now take a break in the Nap Nook - the first of its kind in the country is based at the University of East Anglia.

It is based on a similar set up at the James Madison University in Virginia in the States. The aim to boost the brain after a long night in the library... or a heavy night out. CCTV is fitted to ensure the students are resting!

Are you a student? What do you think of this idea? Would you like to see this idea rolled out in the North East? Tweet us @ITVTynTees or email pamandian@itv.com

No more sleeping at desks

Next step - Mars

Simulation Alpha Outpost will train up the potential astronauts Credit: Mars One

50 men and 50 women are hoping to set up a human colony on Mars. The have been chosen from more than 200 thousand applicants from all over the world.

Eight Britons are among the 100 potential pioneers, including Durham University astro physics student Hannah Earnshaw.

Each one participated in a personal online interview with Norbert Kraft, M.D., the mission's Chief Medical Officer.

The candidates had to show they understood the risks involved and talk about their motivation to be part of what will undoubtably be a life changing expedition.

“The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, Co-founder & CEO of Mars One. “These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.”

Would you go on a one way trip to Mars?

What a human base on Mars might look like Credit: Mars One

Could you leave your family, friends, everything behind to put your name in the history books?

Over 200 thousand people applied to be among the first members of the human race to go to Mars.

That number has been whittled down to 100, all wanting to trek in the final frontier.

Hannah Earnshaw could be heading on a one way to Mars Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Durham University student Hannah Earnshaw is one of them.

The 22-year-old has been shortlisted for the Mars One mission to set up a permanent presence more 50 million km from Earth.

On the up side she could help create the first human colony on Mars. On the down side she will never be able to come home.

It will be a one trip as the limited technology will only be able to get them to the red planet.

Would you give up everything you have here on Earth to to be a a space pioneer?

If someone close to you decided they wanted take one big leap for mankind but never come home would you let them go?

Go to our facebook page and leave your comments.

Student could make one way trip to Mars

Journey to Mars will probably be a one way trip Credit: Mars One

From the initial 202,586 applicants, only 100 hopefuls have been selected to proceed to the next round of the Mars One Astronaut Selection Process.

Only eight of them are from the UK, including 22-year-old Durham student Hannah Earnshaw.

The candidates are one step closer to becoming the first humans on Mars. There is one drawback however, the mission is one way.

The spacecraft that will take them to the red planet has not yet been built, but it is very unlikely it will have to capability to make it back home.

Despite the drawbacks, Hannah remains excited by the challenge ahead.

"I am optimistic about the mission in general," says Hannah, "which is to establish a home on another planet. And the candidates that go there will make a home for themselves, and life for themselves.

"It's not some kind of exile. It's a new start."

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