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Plan for new Michaela Community free school revealed

School dubbed strictest in the country plans to open a new secondary in Hertfordshire

Katharine Birbalsingh

School dubbed strictest in the country plans to open a new secondary in Hertfordshire

A school dubbed “the strictest in the country” is bidding to open a new secondary free school, it has been revealed.

The plan for a new Michaela Community School in Stevenage is included in the Department for Education's latest wave of free school applications.

A list of 124 applications for new schools has been published today, including more than 30 which have a faith designation or ethos.

Michaela Community School Stevenage is described as a mainstream secondary, based in Hertfordshire.

A website set up to promote the proposed school says: "If approved, Michaela plans to open with an intake of 180 Year 7 students, growing organically with the same intake each year.

"At full capacity, Michaela will be a secondary school with 1,260 pupils, including the Sixth Form.

"Our proposal follows extensive engagement with the local authority and we will continue to seek the views of prospective parents, students and stakeholders, giving them the opportunity to help shape the school so that it meets the needs and ambitions of the community it will serve."

The original Michaela Community School opened in Wembley Park in 2014, founded by its controversial headmistress Katharine Birbalsingh.

The school’s strict approach to discipline, emphasis on direct instruction from teachers and traditional curriculum have divided opinion since it opened in 2014.

Katie Ashford, deputy headmistress of Michaela Community School and principal designate of the planned new free school said: "We are excited about bringing the Michaela brand of education to Stevenage – high standards, great behaviour, knowledge, helping young people to get great results and be successful.

"This is about choice for parents and we are looking forward to replicating the success of our outstanding-rated school in Wembley."

The DfE announced earlier this year that it was inviting bids for the latest wave of the free school programme.

The department said in May this year that it will open a new wave of schools in areas where they are most needed – including in disadvantaged areas.

However, the list of free schools approved to open in this latest wave is not expected until early next year.

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