New free school planned for next year in Beckton

Plans for a second controversial free school in Newham have been revealed.

Yorkshire Nationwide Schools is proposing to open the establishment in Beckton in September 2012.

They are the second group to go public with their free schools plans for the borough.

Newham School 21 — led by ex-New Labour spin doctor Peter Hyman — launched their proposals for a site in Stratford earlier this week.

A location for the Beckton school, which would take children aged from four to 18, has yet to be identified. It would be run in partnership with Tollgate Road-based City Chapel, although it will not be a faith school.

Yorkshire Nationwide Schools chief executive John Morahan said: “Our proposals are about certain criteria.

“I hesitate to use the word ‘failing’, but if you look at performance data for the areas we are looking at you will find that a sizeable majority of local secondary schools are performing quite badly.

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“Beckton is an area that ticks the boxes for the kind of schools we intend to create, in areas where we need to raise the bar and let kids get a fair crack of the whip”

He promised the proposed school would recreate “grammar school standards”, with a curriculum designed to ensure all children leave school with five good GCSE passes.

The school would be non-selective and aim to draw as many children as possible from Beckton and other nearby areas.

The group is currently looking for local people to help gather evidence of demand and indicate whether they would be willing to send their children to the school if it opens. It is also looking for those interested in becoming trustees and governors, and to help them identify suitable premises. A series of public meetings will be held if there is sufficient interest.

Free schools, which allow parents, teacher, charities and businesses to establish their own state-funded schools, are a flagship policy of the coalition government.

Tory education secretary Michael Gove claims they will increase competition and drive up standards.

But critics, including the NUT, say they will divert money from existing schools, fuel social segregation and undermine local democracy.