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Free school with a difference
7:00am Friday 10th August 2012 in News
THE first free school in Southend will offer a unique education service for disadvantaged youngsters, according to its chief executive.
The Southend YMCA Community School was given the go-ahead by Government officials last month, and bosses at the YMCA are already drafting plans for the school to open in September 2013.
The school will be tailored to each of the 50 pupils enrolling per year aged between 14 and 19m, who suffer from long-term illness or behavioural issues, as well as severely bullied children, teenage mothers and excluded children. Focusing on the traditional subjects of English, maths and IT, pupils will also have the opportunity to study sport, music and cooking.
Annette Isted has already been appointed as the principal of the school, and will work with YMCA bosses to find it a suitable location.
Syrie Cox, chief executive of Southend YMCA, said: “The school will meet the needs of some of the most marginalised and vulnerable young people in Southend, and will help build their future.
“We are mindful of a small cohort of learners who need an alternative curriculum and approach outside the mainstream.
“It is our vision to provide a niche service for pupils living in challenging circumstances through alternative provision, addressing and supporting them to increase life chances.
“The community school provision will provide greater choice for pupils, parents and schools.
“It will enhance our reputation and will offer the opportunity to devise an innovative curriculum which is pupil-led.
“We envisage sharing our learning locally, regionally and nationally.”
The charity organises various activity programmes and volunteering opportunities, as well as music, cookery and life skills courses. Ms Cox hopes the school will help pupils to contribute and thrive within the community.
She added: “We have a strong track record of high success in enabling pupils who face barriers to achieve their potential, despite fractured home backgrounds.
“Becoming a free school would benefit our provision, pupils and the community in Southend.”
MP for Southend West David Amess said: “I really think it would be wonderful for the Southend YMCA to set up a free school for excluded and vulnerable learners.
“They have excellent expertise in this sector, and are absolutely the right people to help turn these youngsters’ lives around.”