City heads bid to run their own free school

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PRESTON’S headteachers are seeking government approval for plans to set up their own free school.

District six heads, working with Preston’s College, have submitted an application to the Department for Education for a new alternative provision school for 70 students.

If it gets the green light, the school will open in September 2015. and cater for secondary school-aged pupils identified as “not thriving” within their mainstream schools.

Based on the successful Orchard Project, the curriculum has been designed to ensure all students achieve their potential as well as re-integration back into their mainstream school, further education, employment or training.

As an alternative provision free school The Orchard will only be able to recruit students from mainstream secondary schools who commission places.

The steering group behind the new school was set up in January 2013 under the leadership of the Orchard Project’s Christine Mitchell and includes headteachers, senior teachers, school business managers, a qualified accountant and a representative from Preston’s College.

The group has been working with the national charity, the New Schools Network to prepare the application.

Longridge High headteacher Jane Green is chairman of the district heads association.

She said: “We are delighted to be making this application to the DfE for a new alternative provision school.

“We have been working as a group for the last 12 months to put this application together and hope to have some positive news to share in the spring.”

Natalie Evans, director of New Schools Network said: “The Orchard Alternative Provision Free School has worked hard to prepare an application for the DfE and we very much hope they will have chance to put their plans into action.”

A government announcement is expected in the spring.