100 parents interested in Portsmouth’s first free school

CRITICAL Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg
CRITICAL Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg
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MORE than 100 parents have registered an interest in Portsmouth’s first free school.

The John Pounds Free School aims to be the first in the city to be set up under the government’s initiative.

The school will offer 280 places and there are three possible locations being looked at.

Founder David Parkin said there has been a lot of interest.

‘We have got over 100 parents signed up to join our school should it open.

‘We are planning to have a few more meetings with parents in the future.

‘There are two or three locations within the city.

‘The biggest thing we need to prove is that it’s going to be viable to run financially and that there is demand for it in the local community.

‘The more parents that we have got signed up, the more likely we are going to get it.’

Meanwhile, Mr Parkin has said he partially agrees with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s views on free schools.

Mr Clegg openly announced that he disagrees with part of the Conservatives’ plan for free schools and that he doesn’t like the idea of hiring unqualified teachers.

Mr Parkin said: ‘With regards to the John Pounds School we are going to be only hiring qualified teachers to do classroom work. We may engage outside expertise to add to the curriculum.

‘We do think that people who have been trained to teach should be teaching.

‘I have worked with some fantastic people who aren’t qualified teachers but on an ongoing basis you do need qualified teachers to oversee everything that’s going on.’

But Mr Parkin said he disagrees with following the national curriculum.

‘Free schools should be looking to enhance on that,’ he said.

‘We have the freedom to do things that aren’t in the curriculum. We can teach it in a way that we want to teach it.

‘Our curriculum would be loosely based on the curriculum that’s coming out in September 2014.

‘We would use it but it would be a base and everything else would be on top of that.’

Sion Reynolds, local association secretary of the NASUWT, said: ‘Free schools are dangerous ideological experiments.

‘Every teacher should be a postgraduate and should have been trained in teaching professionally at university.

‘Michael Gove is living in a fantasy world.

‘We have one of the best education systems in the world.

‘Why tinker with that? Why not support the teachers who are getting on with it day in and day out?’

For more information visit johnpoundsschool.org or call (023) 9299 0142.