Free School gets approval for 2013

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A FREE School for children with behavioural problems has been given the green light after a two year struggle.

A plan for the Thetford Alternative Provision Free School is one of only 12 of its kind in the country to be accepted by the Department for Education (DfE).

The plans were rejected last November.

Nico Dobben, headteacher designate, said the team would now be working hard to open the school by September 2013.

“We are extremely pleased that finally, after two years of trying, we have been given the go-ahead.

“Our job now is to get the right people in who understand our philosophy,” he said.

The school will take on children aged between 11 and 16-years-old who have learning and behavioural difficulties. This may include students who have been excluded from other schools.

The closure of Thetford’s Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) had left pupils with behavioural issues having to travel to Norwich and King’s Lynn, according to Mr Dobben.

He said the school would favour a hands-on approach to learning.

“We will offer a very practical curriculum,” he said.

“For instance, they will all be able to help in the kitchen to prepare lunch and learn about ordering, buying and a range of other things that put theory into practice.”

Schools in the Netherlands that have links with private firms provided some inspiration for the school, according to Mr Dobben.

Students graduate from these schools qualified and ready to work in fields such as engineering and car mechanics.

The school has already sounded out Easton College and West Suffolk College about linking up in the future.

A site for the new school is yet to be confirmed.

It will initially open with space for 20 pupils, before expanding to 40 in 2014.