The government has given the go-ahead for a new free secondary school to open in Northampton today (Friday, February 5).
The Department of Education has announced that Wootton Park School (Hardingstone) can progress to the ‘pre-opening phase’ as part of its £1 billion national programme.
The new school for pupils aged 11-16 will be part of Northampton Free School Trust alongside Wootton Park School, which opened in 2016 and was rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted in July 2019.
Principal Dan Rosser said: “Our plans for the school have been warmly welcomed by parents and the wider community and we are thrilled that we are now able to progress our plans and make our vision a reality.
"As a team, we have developed a vast range of skills and knowledge of what it takes to open and establish a new free school.
"It is with this certainty of success, that we are confident that Wootton Park School (Hardingstone) will be the next ‘outstanding’ free school in our trust.
“Our new sister school will deliver strong academic achievement, develop strong values and promote citizenship, community and service and will enable every child to thrive and prosper.
"Through tried and tested teaching methods and holistic development, each of our learners will gain the confidence and skills to positively contribute to local communities and to participate in a global society.
"Our curriculum will promote social mobility and enhance the life chances of all learners, particularly the most disadvantaged.”
Wootton Park School (Hardingstone) plans to open with an intake of 180 Year 7 pupils, growing organically with the same intake each year.
A provisional opening date will be agreed with the Department for Education once a suitable site has been secured by the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
Chair of trustees Roberta Brittle said: “We are delighted to have been given the green light to enter the pre-opening phase for Wootton Park School (Hardingstone).
"As a trust, we are extremely proud of our first school and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to open another outstanding school to help meet local demand in Northampton.”
Free schools are newly-established state schools that are independent of local authority control and can decide the length of school day and terms, the curriculum, teacher pay and how they spend their budgets.
Twenty other new free schools across the country have been announced by the government as well as 50 rebuilding projects.
Unity Howard, director of New Schools Network, an independent charity that provides support to groups wanting to set up free schools, said: “The team behind Wootton Park School (Hardingstone) should be proud today.
"The free school application process is rightly demanding, and I pay tribute to them for their tireless work throughout the application phase.
"I wish them the very best of luck as they begin working towards welcoming children through the doors of their new schools in the years to come, and look forward to supporting them as they prepare to open.”
For more information, visit northamptonfreeschooltrust.co.uk/hardingstone and facebook.com/Nptnfreeschooltrust.