New Norwich free school site is unveiled

Claire Heald principal of Jane Austen College outside the building on Colegate, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams Claire Heald principal of Jane Austen College outside the building on Colegate, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Saturday, December 21, 2013
11:31 AM

The new site of Norwich’s specialist humanities free school has been revealed.

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Jane Austen College will open in September 2014 in office buildings currently occupied by Aviva in Colegate.

The 72,000sq ft five-storey premises will include an auditorium for drama, library, music rooms and study areas for pupils, as well as outdoor spaces for them to socialise, with work beginning once Aviva has moved out in March next year.

The secondary school and sixth form, which is sponsored by the Inspiration Trust and will work in partnership with the Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form in Bethel Street, will offer places to 180 pupils in Year 7 and 100 in the sixth form, and grow over the following five years.

Principal Claire Heald said that in finding a home for the school “our dreams have come true”.

She said: “These buildings offer the best location our students. We wanted a city centre building to make the school accessible for people, and close to our partner school, the Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form.

“But most importantly it offers us the space and facilities we need: room for teaching spaces, technology and science labs, dance, drama and arts studios and support for our English and arts specialisms.”

The buildings have been bought for the new school and will require adaptation inside, said Ms Heald, though the costs have not been released.

The college will work in partnership the Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form College, which will specialise in maths and science when it opens next September, so that pupils can get specialist tuition according to their subject choices.

Ms Heald said the college had already begun enrolling students, and would begin recruiting teachers in the new year – with a target of 15 staff in the first year, and additional staff recruited as pupil numbers grow.

“Our teachers will have lower teaching allocation than in other schools, so that they have time to focus on their development, learning and preparation,” she said.

“We’ve had interest from pupils mainly from central Norwich, but they are coming from further afield for sixth form - from Wymondham, Attleborough, Great Yarmouth, Cromer.”

Outdoor space for pupils will be provided behind the college, currently office car parks, with other ‘outdoor social space’ being sought elsewhere.

The college is in discussions to find other locations for extra-curricular activities on the three days a week when pupils are expected to be in until 5.30pm, and for sports activities and lessons.

Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust, said: “We have spent months scouring Norwich for the best building for Jane Austen College.

“We wanted a site in the centre of the city that would inspire our students and encourage learning. This is an outstanding building.”

An Aviva spokesman said the Colegate offices housed its life insurance business, which would be transferred to other Aviva offices in the city.

12 comments

  • "Of course like all free schools, it will live or die on results and admission levels, unlike council maintained schools." What an extraordinary comment Popeye when council maintained schs are shutting right, left and centre to be replaced by academies whilst free schs have to have Ofsteds far worse than maintained schs before the DfE realises they are poor and are then forced to close them as in the ONLY one that they have closed (Discovery in Surrey).

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    Sportswagon

    Sunday, December 22, 2013

  • While I am not against Free Schools per se, I do wonder what they are Free of? Local authority 'control' has been considerably diminished for all schools in recent years. And yes, the extra cost is worrying, especially as it is taking funding out of my children's 'ordinary' school, at a time when overall budgets are virtually frozen.

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    EN Heath

    Saturday, December 21, 2013

  • Aviva again???? This company is behind The Norwich Free School too. Does anyone honestly believe they they won't, or haven't already had enormous payback for this? Quote: "............though the costs have not been released". Why not? The DfE repeatedly refuses FOI requests re-costs of these free schs and academies: what are they hiding and are they just buying time to spin a favourable lie when they are forced to reveal costs. It wouldn't be so awful if kids were getting a good deal but as we have seen academies and free schs are doing no better than any other sch despite the rubbish fed to us.

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    Sportswagon

    Saturday, December 21, 2013

  • There is a perfectly good sixth form in Yarmouth-no doubt this Free school will feed off the fears of parents worried that their not so bright little darlings wont manage a Russell Group uni ( when ENSF college manages to get bright kids to Oxbridge no problem) And their fears about what is going to happen to standards when all kids have t stay on until they are 18 So there you see the money spinner for a Free School- more sixth formers-and it will be like one of those third rate private day schools, except it will be paid for out of funding meant for all kids.

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    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, December 21, 2013

  • Free schools and academies, Gove's attempt at catching up with the rest of the world, already challenged by failures around the country, are removed from local Government, but, as one can see from the failures, at the mercy of a politically motivated Government dictate, which can close free schools at a tad's notice, further disturbing education. Political parties, for their own moral and politically motivated agenda's, already are interupting universities and schools at almost every elections, not one political party is prepared to stop such interference and discontinuity, and childrens education is marred by the election calendar of minority party politics.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, December 22, 2013

  • So who has bought these buildings for the Free School and at what cost to the taxpayer? The EDP should look into how much has been spent on Free Schools in Norfolk and publish their accounts (presumably they can do this under the Freedom of Information Act). They should also find out if there are any selection policies. All this money could have been used to support schools in the county rather than create new secondary schools. Free schools (if we have to have them) should only be established in areas where there is a demographic need for them. I'm not aware of there being that need in Norwich. What will be the knock on effects on schools already here?

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    pablo

    Saturday, December 21, 2013

  • Thanks for the info Lockers, which funnily enough partly proves my secrecy point, which is that if the DfE were open and honest about the costs of these free schools and academies we would all be better informed to make a balanced judgement.

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    Sportswagon

    Saturday, December 21, 2013

  • More empire building more inflated salaries for managers and administrators and another school we do not need No one,before GCSEs should be thinking of specialisation It was not done in grammar schools until year 10 and even then most grammar schools had a mixed subjects option.Where are the playing fields? Where is the space for a gymnasium? Where is the balance of experience that schools used to have? This mob has fixed on a specialisation as an excuse-English specialists are 10 a penny anyway- and is building a school in an unsuitable place for the wrong reasons.

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    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, December 21, 2013

  • How much have the various Norfolk Free Schools cost the taxpayer (perhaps this can be found out through the Freedom of Information Act)? What effect will their establishment have on local schools and their budgets? As far as I am aware there is no shortage of school places in Norwich. I can only see a justification in setting up a free school if there is a demographic need for a school in an area. Could that money have been better spent on improving existing schools in Norfolk. Buying huge city centre sites must have cost a lot of money, and then they have to be converted and equipped. A vast public subsidy has been given to these schools at the expense of existing local schools. I think it's the job of the local paper to report on these issues and I'm puzzled why my last post on this did not make it onto the message board (technical glitch or censorship?)

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    pablo

    Sunday, December 22, 2013

  • Where are the 100 sixth form students coming from I wonder? Who would choose to gamble their future on a centre with no track record trying to fill teaching vacancies with anyone they can get? Maybe they will end up recruiting from RDS' other toy, the INFS? Another ill conceived and dangerous move showing education in Norfolk is being rapidly privatised and the Council are sitting back selling the futures of our children to TEN, IT and Ormiston.

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Monday, December 23, 2013

  • Morris - Aviva is not behind the free school. They currently lease the offices and are now moving out. This leaves empty offices. Which the Free School is moving into. It's a bit like if you owned a greengrocer business and leased a shop, but closed the business, moved out and the owner of the building then leased it to a betting shop. You would not then be 'behind' the betting shop, would you? Lots of people on these boards seemed to have lacked English comprehension lessons at school, it seems!

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    lockers

    Saturday, December 21, 2013

  • Only 15 walking minutes from the train station or the bus station. What a brilliant place to have a new school, and badly needed as I am sure the very good schools in Norwich are always oversubscribed. Of course like all free schools, it will live or die on results and admission levels, unlike council maintained schools.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Saturday, December 21, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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