Parents and teachers outline Chichester Free School plans

A group of parents and teachers are hoping to increase choice for parents in the area by setting up their own school.

Chichester Free School could be up and running as early as next September if plans are approved by West Sussex County Council.

The group is currently working with the county council on the plans, and is urging people to complete a survey intended to find out views on the concept.

Billed as a ‘school for the people’, the educational establishment would take boys and girls aged four to 18, would be state-funded and work closely with the education authority while being independent from it.

The school campaign is being led by Stephanie Jones, who has lived in Chichester with her family for 15 years.

She said the school was aimed at the development of the ‘whole child’ and would work with parents and students to deliver excellence.

She said some parents were not religious and would not want to choose Bishop Luffa School.

“After that parents had a choice of the boys’ or girls’ high school or to send their children out of the city,” she said.

“You have a very good faith school, and two single-sex schools at secondary level and our proposal is to offer a co-ed school that’s not faith-based and goes all the way through from primary to secondary.

Mrs Jones said the new school would be inclusive, open to children of all abilities and backgrounds, including low-income families and would have an emphasis on mathematics, English, science, humanities and languages.

The group has already received support from more than 600 parents.

Issues currently being discussed include the length of the school day, how it was going to be split up, and the curriculum.

The group wants the school situated in a location which is easily accessible and currently two sites are being considered, one to the north of the city and one to the south.

Partnerships for Schools, a government body set up to deliver school building programmes, has visited both sites.

Mrs Jones is now urging people to fill in a survey to identify needs from the area as well as write letters of support for the school to MP Andrew Tyrie and West Sussex county councillor Peter Griffiths, who has responsibility for education.