Parents and teachers to form a new school

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The city’s first Free School run directly for pupils by parents and teachers could be opened in Milton Keynes by 2015.

Grace Academy will, if the Government agrees, be built in Central Milton Keynes to bring an extra dimension to city education.

It will offer places for 850 pupils aged between four and 19 years, said project manager Sherry Gladwin.

Under new Government initiatives, anybody has the right to apply to set up a state school provided that they can prove there is a need for it.

“We know there is a need for a school with a Christian ethos, small classes and experts who can devote time to having a positive impact on the lives of young people,” said Mrs Gladwin.

Grace Academy would be open to pupils from all over Milton Keynes and be part of the local authorities standard selection procedures.

But it plans to concentrate on students from Fishermead, Conniburrow, Beanhill and Coffee Hall.

“These are often termed ‘socially deprived’ areas, though we don’t like that phrase,” added Mrs Gladwin. “We believe the children from these areas deserve more of a chance to enhance the potential they clearly have.”

A mother of two grown up children, Mrs Gladwin has spent years teaching and is now an educational consultant. She said: “I have always dreamed of setting up a Free School, and it was a case of praying and finding the right team to make it happen.”

The Grace Academy team includes parents, teachers, educational professionals and a lawyer. They are currently preparing an application to submit to the Department For Education in January.

If accepted, they will gain Government funding to pay for the school building. And though the school will have a “Christian ethos”, it will be open to all faiths.

“We have not located anywhere yet. I am still praying for premises,” said Mrs Gladwin.

“The key is that students commit to the values of the school. We believe that all young people have a unique and valuable contribution to make to life and society.

“Often the school curriculum is irrelevant, narrow, and teaching can be uninspiring. Through our international curriculum, we will restore creativity and enjoyment to learning.”