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Talks with Department for Education over plans for free school in former Co-op in Carr Street, Ipswich, to begin in New Year

PUBLISHED: 09:00 02 December 2016

The former Ipswich Co-op Department Store in Carr Street that could become a new primary school for the town centre.

The former Ipswich Co-op Department Store in Carr Street that could become a new primary school for the town centre.

Archant

Bosses at St Helen's Primary School in Ipswich are set to proceed with a formal interview with the Department for Education in the new year over plans to create a free school in the former Co-op department store in Carr Street.

The parent share event at St Helen's Primary School in Ipswich, which was held on the same day as the open event for plans to build a new free schoolThe parent share event at St Helen's Primary School in Ipswich, which was held on the same day as the open event for plans to build a new free school

A drop-in information session was held at the Woodbridge Road-based school yesterday afternoon.

Ipswich Primary Academies Trust, which also runs Whitton and The Oaks primary schools, announced the plans in June this year, and in October the Carr Street unit was identified as the ideal location.

Clare Flintoff, executive principal of the trust, said it would be a sister-school to St Helen’s and take advantage of the skills and community relationships already present at the school.

“For this to work it needs to be situated very close to St Helen’s,” Mrs Flintoff said. It’s in a very central place and will bring people into the area – I think it will really revive the whole area.”

Currently St Helen’s is an over-subscribed school, with 60 children unable to join the school last year – equivalent to at least two full classes.

Yesterday the school said the free school would enable youngsters within the catchment area who could not get into St Helen’s to gain a place.

The new school would have around 460 places and cater for around 60 new pupils a year.

Deputy executive principal James Chester said: “St Helen’s has got a long-standing relationship with the community from all backgrounds, which is really important.

“It will be a school for everybody to achieve excellence, something we are really passionate about.”

As part of its community tie-up the school holds parent share events every term where parents can take part in activities with their children to find out what they are learning about and about the diverse cultures in the catchment area.

Yesterday, the school held scone baking, henna art, sari dressing, art displays and karate-style demonstrations.

Mr Chester added: “It really improves the school experience and that will be really central to the free school. For us it’s not just another project but ensuring we provide that standard of excellence.”

Talks are ongoing with the Co-op, with a formal interview with the DfE set for the new year.

If successful, the school expects to have confirmation by March and a planned opening for September 2018.

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