Free school providing ‘much needed’ places in East Leeds gets the go ahead

Martin Fleetwood.
Martin Fleetwood.
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A THROUGH AGE free school which will provide 1,000 places in a city facing shortages has been given final approval by ministers.

The Temple Learning Academy in Leeds will open for reception age children this September and will start taking on secondary school pupils for year seven next year.

Its funding agreement has now been signed by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

The school is being set up by a partnership of existing schools in the east of the city in response to the need for extra places.

Martin Fleetwood, the executive principal of the new school said: “I am delighted that the Secretary of State for Education has confidence in our bid for a free school.

“To meet the high standards set by [schools minister] Lord Nash and the Department for Education means that the confidence that has been placed by over 44 families in wanting to start at the academy in September has been justified.”

The school will be based at the former East Leeds Leisure Centre. It is being set up by the Temple Newsam Learning Partnership. Initially it will open to 60 pupils in reception this year and take on another 120 pupils in year seven next year.

If it is full by 2021 it will provide more than 1,000 places for pupils.

Temple Moor - one of the schools within the partnership had twice as many people picking the school as a first choice for year seven as it had places available.

Mr Fleetwood who is also principal at Temple Moor has previously said that the planned housing developments in Seacroft and Thorpe Park would increase demand for secondary places further.

He will be the school’s overall executive head with separate heads of both the primary and secondary phase.

“I look forward to not only opening in September but to building a school and a resource centre that is at the heart of its community.”

The school day will start from 7.30am to allow families who want to come in to have breakfasts together. Formal learning will take place between 8.30am until 2.30pm followed by an hour of “enrichment activities.”

The trust says this will be provided with partners such as Opera North, the Leeds United foundation and Leeds Rhinos.

Free schools are a key reform of the coalition Government which has promoted the creation of new state schools. Since 2011 there have been 19 free schools opened in Yorkshire including four in Leeds.

The policy has been at the heart of coalition Government reforms . It has encouraged the creation of new state schools by groups of parents, teachers and other organisations including existing state schools and those int he private sector.

There is currently a debate about whether the opening of such schools should only be allowed in “areas of basic need” where a shortage of places has been identified.