Christians' DIY ethos

9th July 2004 at 01:00
Both Labour and the Tories are promising to make it easier for parents to set up their own schools. But how difficult is it now?

Joanne Watts is one of a group of parents who have founded an independent primary school in the Derbyshire village of Stanton-by-Dale and will be opening a secondary there this summer.

The five sets of parents, all devout Christians, decided to establish Jubilee House Christian school in 1999 because they thought class sizes were too big in local primaries.

Mrs Watts said: "We don't regret it for a moment. But it was very difficult right from the beginning when we had to find a building, get planning permission, do everything ourselves."

Jubilee House charges fees of less than pound;1,680 a year and its pupil numbers have grown from 12 to 51. The school has four assistants and four full-time teachers, who work for less than the standard national rates.

Most parents work at the school for at least half a day each week.

But parents in Brixton, south London, have found establishing a secondary school a more frustrating experience.

The parents have set up a not-for-profit company to run an academy, and been given permission by Nelson Mandela to name the school after him.

However, the group has been told that it will not receive government funding for the school because their local authority has no site to build it on.

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