Fareham and Gosport multi-campus free school could open in September

A NEW free school could be open to pupils this September.

The Royal Hospital, Haslar
The Royal Hospital, Haslar

The recently-formed Gosport and Fareham Multi-Academy Trust is awaiting the outcome of a bid for The Wave Free School, which would provide education for students with social, emotional and mental health needs, from the Department for Education.

If approved, the school would be based on three mini-campuses in Gosport, each of which would be designated to a particular branch of SEMH.

GFM consists of Bay House School, Brune Park Community School, Gomer Junior School in Gosport and the specialist LWS Academy in Fareham.

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes

Stuart Tyreman, headteacher of LWS Academy, is leading the project.

He said: ‘There is a real shortage of places across Hampshire for pupils with SEMH needs and we feel the free school would help meet that need.’

LWS Academy caters to boys with SEMH needs but is oversubscribed as are other nearby SEMH schools such as the Waterloo School in Waterlooville and Prospect School in Havant.

Mr Tyreman said: ‘Students can come from as far as Oxfordshire to LWS and we know that there is a real demand for this school locally.

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes

‘We want to bring forward a model that is truly innovative and we are now awaiting to hear back from the government as to if we have been successful.’

Funding for the potential school would be split between the Department for Education and Hampshire County Council.

Mr Tyreman is to meet members of the county council’s children’s services department today to discuss the proposals.

The first mini-campus is an external building already being used by LWS pupils at Bridgemary School, with Rowner Youth Centre and buildings at Royal Hospital Haslar being explored as sites for the other mini-campuses.

The number of pupils would start with around 10 but potentially grow to 54 by 2023.

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes said: ‘Around 17 per cent of free schools have been created to help children with special education needs, or those who are struggling in the mainstream schools system, ensuring every pupils gets a equal opportunity.

‘Wave Free School is another great example of how a free school can respond to local demand, by supporting children in the area with an innovative approach to specialist education.

‘Free schools transform pupils’ life chances.’

What are free schools and how are they funded?

Free schools are run on a not-for-profit basis and are primarily funded by the government.

They are ‘all-ability’ schools so cannot use academic selection processes such as a grammar school and can be set up by groups such as charities, independent schools and businesses.

In the case of The Wave Free School, it would be set up by the government but would still seek funding from its local authority.

Free schools can also set their own curriculum, pay and conditions for staff. They can also change the length of school terms and the school day.