After three rejections, teacher sets up independent school

Enterprise Diamond Independent School. Pic: Kay Johnston

Enterprise Diamond Independent School. Pic: Kay Johnston

A teacher who had three proposals for a free school rejected by the Department for Education last year has acquired premises for an independent, fee paying school.

Kay Johnston, a literacy and special education needs teacher decided there was “too much politics” with free schools. The independent school will focus on taking students straight into their first job.

After a High Court case against the Department for Education’s rejections of the free school, Diaspora High School, Johnston announced the planned independent school on her public Facebook page.

Kay Johnston won the right to challenge the previous secretary for state, Michael Gove’s rejection of her application. She claimed that Gove was in breach of the 2010 equality act.

The judicial review in June 2013 led to Gove adjusting the free schools application process. Johnston agreed a settlement with the DfE after it confirmed the changes, which included a requirement for assessors to record their consideration of any equality impact.

Johnston is the founder, proprietor and principal of the school, which is due to open in September 2015.

The independent school named Enterprise Diamond School will be an all-through school with classes of 12. Children will only be co-educated in reception and sixth form and will benefit from single sex classes during Years 1-11. Johnston says the school will “focus on different learning styles of boys and girls to maximise their potential.”

It will be located in Hither Green, Lewisham at the premises of an old Sunday school. There is an outdoor space where children can learn horticulture, a play area, an indoor play space and a gym.

Johnston said the school will “address bad behaviour and rescue kids as these are vulnerable children who need help and get missed in normal schools.”

She has received local support from parents who have “been ringing with horror stories” after their children have been excluded from other schools.

Johnston said: “The policies will be submitted by the end of this week and then Ofsted need to check the premises.”

Enterprise Diamond School will have an Inclusion Centre attached to the school where children excluded from previous schools and have been “failed by local authorities.” can receive help from mentors, life skill coaches and counsellors.

Johnston is currently teaching a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old at her home who were excluded from Abbey Manor College in Lewisham.

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