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Interviews and decision due in New Year for sponsor of new special free school in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 09:00 23 November 2017

The former Holywells High School site in Ipswich is due to become a new special free school. Picture: ARCHANT

The former Holywells High School site in Ipswich is due to become a new special free school. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

A decision on who will run a new special free school being planned for Ipswich is due to be made early next year.

In April the Department for Education announced a raft of new free schools across the country, with one in Ipswich among those confirmed.

The 60-place school is going to be established in east Ipswich, on the former Holywells High School site in Lindbergh Road next to Inspire Suffolk.

The deadline for applications by sponsors to run the school expires tomorrow, after which work will begin to establish the best sponsor for the school.

Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills at Suffolk County Council, said: “We are working closely with the Department for Education to assess applications from academy trusts ahead of interviews which will take place in early 2018.

“We are excited to be progressing with this and we have already seen significant interest from trusts.

“The new school will bring much needed further provision for children with additional needs in this part of the county.”

The school will cater for those aged between eight and 16 with social, emotional and mental health needs.

County council staff said the demand for a special school in the Ipswich area was “high”.

The exact criteria for judgement is not yet known, but is likely to include the track record of interested sponsors and their vision or understanding for the school and the area it serves.

The school is one of two free schools currently in development for Ipswich, with a second set to open at the former East of England Co-op department store in Carr Street.

In June, a bid by the Active Learning Trust alongside Ipswich Borough Council, the Co-op, Suffolk County Council and the Education and Skills Funding Agency was approved, and is due to open in September 2019.

The news came just months after a previous bid by Ipswich Primary Academies Trust, now known as Asset Education, was turned down after failing to secure Government funding.

The Government’s drive for 131 new free schools included two in Essex – Chelmsford and Chatten Free School in mid-Essex, which will accommodate more than 140 pupils.

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