Parents pledge pupils for Hull's new 'free school', after minister gives backing
PLANS for a new Hull secondary school have received enthusiastic support from parents after moving a step closer to becoming reality.
The proposed McAuley College Academy has gained approval from Education Secretary Michael Gove to move to the next stage of planning.
Outstanding: The headteacher of St. Mary's College, Ged Fitzpatrick, and pupils celebrating their Ofsted success. The college is behind plans for a new 'free school' in Hull.
The school's new website has already received about 50 enquiries from parents keen to enrol their children.
As previously reported by the Mail, a proposal for the 'free school', which would be on the same site as St Mary's College, in north Hull, was submitted to the Department for Education before Christmas.
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McAuley College would initially be set up and run by staff at St Mary's, which is the only school in Hull to be rated as "outstanding" by Ofsted.
If given the go-ahead, it is due to open in September this year.
The school would initially cater for 100 pupils, but could eventually take in about 600.
Following confirmation from the Department for Education yesterday, the team behind the school can move to the business case stage, under which they will draw up more detailed plans of how the school will function.
There are currently just 35 free school proposals nationally which have reached this stage.
Free schools are independent of local education authority control and funded directly by the Government.
Ged Fitzpatrick, head teacher at St Mary's College, has been instrumental in developing the plans.
He said: "We have been fortunate to have enthusiastic support from a whole range of people not least parents and young people in Hull who are all very excited by the project.
"We understand the Department for Education thought it was a very strong submission because it will be supported by a school that is judged as outstanding by Ofsted.
"Our understanding is that this is quite unusual among the free schools."
The team has until the end of the month to complete this second submission which, if successful, will be followed by a funding agreement with the Department for Education.
Mr Fitzpatrick has made it clear it would be a "very demanding" school and pupils would be expected to go on to university.
He said: "The key advantage is that we can design the school from scratch and tailor that new school specifically around the needs of young people.
"The emphasis will be that anything is possible for any youngster.
"There will be an academic curriculum but one we feel any young person can access."
It will initially be housed in temporary accommodation, but with St Mary's due to be partially rebuilt under the multi-million pound Building Schools for the Future scheme, around 50 per cent of the buildings will be free for McAuley's from September 2013.
Two meetings are to be held at St Mary's next week for prospective parents to find out more about the new school.
These will be on Tuesday and Thursday at 6.30pm and are open to anyone to go along.