GOVERNMENT approval that could lead to a new primary school opening in Cramlington has been welcomed by the group behind the move.
The proposed Cramlington Village Primary School is one of 55 so-called free schools around England given the go-ahead by Education Secretary Michael Gove to take their plans a stage further.
That thumbs-up means that in less than a year the school could open its doors to reception and Year 1 classes, then add a reception class each year until it takes in pupils of all ages from four to 11.
Campaigners for the school say primaries in Cramlington are currently running close to capacity and plans to build another 1,100 new homes in the town over the next five years could swell the primary school age population by around 300.
More than 500 parents have signed a survey saying they would consider sending their children to the new primary.
University lecturer Judith Gair, chairman of the steering group, said: “We have a passion to see the children in Cramlington achieve more in terms of progress and standards.
“We also want to give the children firmer foundations for life by offering them a broader range of learning experiences.”
The new school will build on the work done by the town’s Little Angels nursery that has secured it three outstanding ratings in a row by Ofsted.
Debbie Wylie, pictured, owner of the Paradise Row nursery and a fellow steering group member, said: “Parents have been asking us for some time now to extend our successful ethos into the primary phase.
“Cramlington Village Primary School will continue our practice of making the curriculum relevant to each child, rather than making each child fit into the curriculum.”
Not everyone is convinced of the merits of the plan, though.
Barrie Crowther, county councillor for Cramlington Eastfield, said: “After the turmoil of the change from three-tier to two-tier, the need for a free school in Cramlington is disputable.
“There are still available places in our schools, and they are not saturated.”
“I look forward to debating these issues in public.”
“The “free school” is not automatically arriving in September 2012, the Department for Education states there needs to be consultation with local schools and the local authority.
“I hope that the “free school” takes the opportunity to enter into discussion with all interested parties.”
Dan Tobin, a father of two and member of the school steering group, said: “It’s great news for Cramlington.
“There is a real need for a school of this type in Cramlington – a fast-growing new town where existing primary provision is insufficient.”