Ipswich: Bid to set up a free school for pupils with difficulties

IPSWICH: The town could get its first free school – set up to teach pupils with special learning requirements.

Education specialist and former headteacher Eithne Leming has more than 30 years experience working within mainstream education and special schools.

She has submitted an application to the Department of Education and is now set to stage a public meeting for those interested in the initiative.

The open public meeting will take place at the Co-op Education Centre, 11 Fore Street, Ipswich on February 24. The meeting will start at 7pm and interested parents, and teaching professionals are welcome to attend.

The school would have a particular emphasis on meeting the needs of youngsters with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties, and those with dyslexia.

The public meeting will provide an opportunity to hear from Mrs Leming about the planned structure of the school including curriculum and teaching methods, and to ask questions about its targets and timeline.

Mrs Leming has already established online surveys to allow for both parent and teaching groups to share their views about the proposed free school.

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A project group comprising accomplished education professionals has been developed to progress the initiative in the coming months, and liaison has been under way with the New Schools Network.

She said: “It has been identified at significant level, several times over, that in this particular county there is a gap in the provision for children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.

“I am an experienced teacher and headteacher in this particular field and have previously set up and run highly successful pupil referral units.

“I am certainly not alone in the belief that a free school of this nature could significantly change the lives of so many young people growing up in this area.”

Mrs Leming, who has already been seeking potential locations for the school, added: “I want to stage the public meeting to hear the many and varied views from people in the area about such an initiative.”

n Would a free school like this be good for Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk