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'Two teachers per class' Norbury free school plans submitted

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PLANS for a new free school which would see classes taught by two teachers instead of one were submitted to the Department for Education at the end of last week.

Russell King, founder of the Advance School, said he was now waiting to hear if they would be a formal interview in March, which could lead to them getting approval by May.

He said that since the plans were publicly announced last September, he had received around 200 expressions of interest from parents keen to send their children to the school.

The 630-capacity school, eventually catering for 4 to 11-year-olds, will be based in the empty former Age UK offices in London Road, Norbury, and will initially have 90 pupils.

It would look to take in a number of pupils from deprived backgrounds or those with English as a second language.

The two-teacher idea came from Mr King's time teaching in Westminster.

He said it would enable the employment of specialist teachers who could concentrate on planning key maths and English lessons, rather than planning for all the subjects.

Mr King believes this will lead to more innovative and higher quality lessons.

The idea seems to have appealed to the New Schools Network (NSN), an independent charity which helps groups of teachers, parents and volunteers draw up free school applications.

The Advance School is just one of 32 chosen nationally to join the NSN's development plan and receive detailed, specialist advice.

In its first year of operation, 90 per cent of free schools supported by the NSN received approval from Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Mr King said: "We have been working with the NSN since July and it has been very pleased with the progress we have made.

"Its advice has been excellent and I believe we have made a really good application. Obviously, we are not counting our chickens but everything is looking very positive."

Mr King said the Advance School would fill a real need in the north of the borough.

He said: "The council's own figures show that even after it has expanded schools, and introduced bulge classes in the north of the borough, it is still 90 places short. There has to be a new school and we feel we can fill that gap."

If successful, the school hopes to open in September next year.

'Two teachers per class' Norbury free school plans submitted


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