Croydon College plans secondary free school

Croydon College CC Paul Gillett

Croydon College. Pic: Paul Gillett

Croydon College has submitted plans for a secondary ‘free’ school.

Plans for the New Croydon Academy have just been sent to the Department of Education for approval.

The NCA, as a free school, would be state funded, but independent of the local authority. It would also provide 180 new places in every group from Year 7 to Year 13.

With Croydon’s population rising and a shortfall of schools, the inclusive Academy would provide free education for students aged 11 to 18 from all backgrounds. More than 400 parents signed up in support the plans.

Frances Wadsworth, principal at Croydon College said: “Croydon has a growing need for high quality school places. Our current schools are already over-subscribed and there has been significant growth in both the number of primary schools in the area and in the capacity of existing primary schools. This will feed through to a need for additional places in secondary schools.”

The Academy will be run by a Charitable Trust, independent of the College. Most of the Academy’s staff will be recruited independently, although some members of the College may provide training and office support.

All teachers will be trained to help children with learning difficulties. The new school will be part of a campus, which already includes Croydon College, the University Centre Croydon and the Croydon School of Art. It will be part of the site on College Green.

According to their website, the school will: “Focus on employability and the needs of young people to commit to the discipline required for success in the future”. It will offer, “strong links with employers and the availability of routes of progression into all careers from the professional to the technical through realistic vocational experiences.”

Its curriculum focuses on science and computing, including creative media.

It will provide facilities such as small and large meeting rooms, formal spaces, and areas for special activities (such as IT, science, performing arts, etc.). The Academy will also work on providing further education opportunities for students.

Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North said: “I’m really excited about the proposed New Croydon Academy.  What a great chance for school-age students to benefit from Croydon College’s expertise and connections with local employers.  This innovative new school promises to offer Croydon’s young people a fantastic start in life.”

Croydon has a need for schools, especially secondary, as the number of primary pupils is rising. According to Department for Education it’s estimated that there will be a 36 per cent rise in pupil numbers in the next few years.

Wadsworth added: “We have had so much support for NCA; MPs, councillors, businesses, primary schools and of course, parents. We still have a way to go to realise our ambition, but with all the support and good feeling we have encountered, it’s a journey I think we’re all looking forward to.”

She also said: “We are confident that we will create a school that, although it will stand entirely in its own right, can draw upon the college’s expertise and resources.”

Matthew Sims, Chief Executive, Croydon Business Improvement District (BID) said; “As Croydon continues with its ambitious redevelopment plans for the Town Centre, it is important to recognise the need for greater investment in to employment, skills and education. The proposal of a new secondary school will only enhance the current educational offer provided to the younger generation, boosting knowledge, skills and experience locally.”

If the Secretary of State approves, the academy will open in September 2016.

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