Bids in to try and open three new Free Schools in Norwich

With the latest round of applications due to reach the government today, three groups are known to be bidding to start up Free Schools in Norwich.

They will now begin the long process that could eventually lead to the creation of an alternative education school for excluded pupils, a specialist science and maths sixth form, and a split-site offering aiming to inspire youngsters' imaginations.

The Future Free School is a proposal by Motum Road-based Future Education which aims to replace its existing school – at risk of closure because of funding problems – with a new one for pupils unable to settle in mainstream education.

Dennis Freeman, school manager, said more than 100 families have registered their interest in the bid. 'I can't say confident, because you can never be confident, but we feel we have got a lot of support,' he said. 'We've got what we think is a good big and we think we have a strong case.'

Also hoping to add to Norfolk's already diverse educational landscape are Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital chairman David Prior and Ormiston Victory Academy principal Rachel de Souza, who are proposing to create a Norwich-based sixth form focusing on maths and science.

The team behind it want their Free School to benefit students and staff across Norfolk by offering masterclasses for pupils and teacher secondments.

Mrs de Souza said: 'This provision is supposed to be a highly collaborative provision which would act as a resource for the rest of Norfolk to improve maths and science teaching.'

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The third Free School proposal is for Benjamin's School, a split-site school which would aim to have one of its five bases in Norwich.

It could eventually cater for up to 1,400 four to 19-year-olds across Norfolk and would offer a creative approach to teaching.

Youngsters would lead their own education and learn outside of the classroom as much as possible.

Originally a proposal by the Benjamin Foundation, it has now been taken on by a team of parents, young people and supporters, including Benjamin Foundation founder Richard Draper.

He said: 'The whole essence is enormously child-centred. It starts with the interests of the child. We want them to explore the world and learn from it.'

Proposals are set to be assessed next month with shortlisted bids invited to interviews in April and May and a final decision set to be given in July or early August.