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College puts art at the centre of new free school bid

A further education college is putting the arts at the heart of its bid to set up a new secondary free school.

Arts subjects would join science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) at the heart of the curriculum of the planned New Croydon Academy in East London, which has been drawn up by Croydon College.

College principal Frances Wadsworth said: “Stem is nationally understood in terms of curriculum, it’s a well-used phrase and it’s very important for Croydon. However, so are the arts.

“Croydon School of Art [part of Croydon College] is a jewel in Croydon’s crown and we believe the experts and the collective experience we have at the art school can help bring our vision to life.”

The planned school for 11- to 18-year-olds, which is scheduled to open in September 2017, would start with six Year 7 classes of 30 pupils each, and would eventually house 1,260 pupils.

It is the second time Croydon College has attempted to establish a free school, after its first proposal was turned down by the Department for Education earlier this year.

“We’ve gone back to the drawing board and working alongside the New Schools Network and some high-profile experts, I think our proposal is stronger, clearer and more innovative than before,” Ms Wadsworth said.

Several local schools and organisations, including the University of Sussex and Croydon Tech City (dubbed the "Silicon Valley of South London") have agreed to work as partners with the academy if the bid is successful.

Ms Wadsworth said the academy would address the need for more pupil places, increased parental choice and raised educational standards, as well as using the flexibility given to academies to help pupils develop and progress into further education, employment or training.

She said the academy’s vision was to develop “skills and behaviours which prepare young people to be creative, effective and digitally confident citizens, employees, entrepreneurs and leaders in the 21st century.”

As part of the consultation, which runs until 20 May, an online questionnaire is open. The proposal will be submitted by 28 May.


Related stories:

'Why I want a free school' – September 2014

Sixth-form college aims to be first to open free school – July 2014

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