First Durham free school set to triple in size

editorial image
Have your say

THE first free school in County Durham is set to triple in size from September.

Durham Free School has already grown by 20 per cent since opening last year, as more children have joined Year 7 – which now has 37 pupils.

The school expects to have 90 students this September as another year group joins, and says it will grow year on year to a total of 630 children once full.

The Durham Free School opened last September in the former Gilesgate Sports College, which was unexpectedly closed by the council in 2013.

When the project first began, the intention was that it would be located further to the south east of the city where there was no secondary school, but no decision on the move has yet been made. John Denning, chairman of governors at the school, said: “The journey towards reaching a decision on our permanent site has been a far longer and a much more complicated process than we could have possibly imagined when we first embarked on the Free School project over three years ago now.

“I know this is an issue which is important to many families and, although we still await a final decision from the Department for Education, we want to share as much information as possible with local people at this juncture and have a chance to talk with them and listen to their views.”

Agents acting on behalf of the Department for Education have been carrying out extensive research and feasibility studies to decide on the best permanent location.

Headteacher Peter Cantley said: “We don’t have a final outcome yet, and ultimately. the decision lies with the Government, but we want to listen and pass on any comments people may wish to make.”

There have been public meetings on plans to identify a permanent site for the school.

Parent Lindsay Sharpe, whose son Ryan Atkinson, 12, joined last September, said: “Hopefully, the Free School will be allowed to move nearer to Bowburn as planned.”

Free schools are not controlled by a local authority.