CALDERDALE looks set to see its first ‘free schools’ by September 2013.
Anthony Smith, headteacher at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe, has unveiled the bid to convert The Maltings post-16 vocational learning centre.
He said: “Free School status will allow us to change everything about our provision and without being confined to a set school day and year.
“For example, students studying childcare may have to attend our Fountain Springs nursery within its opening hours which is what they will have to do anyway in the world of work – replicating in school the world of reality and work.”
The status will improve funding streams to the school as it allows it to work with professional partners.
Michael Horrocks, school manager, said: “Community schools have certain restrictions from local council.
“Academy status gives you considerable freedoms and free school status takes that even further.
“What we are planning over three to five years can be done in one to two years - we are over-subscribed and the funding would allow us to meet demand.”
The focus at The Maltings will be on vocational learning with the partners, including SAKS Hair and Beauty and Hays Worldwide, contributing to the curriculum to prepare students for the world of work.
Holly Bottomley, chair of governors, said: “Traditional further education provision is often established to meet targets for pupil numbers, not meet the demand of local employers.”
The bid has been submitted and an answer is expected by the summer - if successful, The Maltings will open as a free school in 2013.
The Steiner School, Cragg Vale, is the only other school in our area to apply for free school status so far - they also intend to open under the new status in September 2013.