Hooray! We’re free

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A BLACKPOOL independent school has been given the green light to convert to a free school – signalling a “landmark day” for education on the Fylde coast.

Langdale Independent Preparatory School, on Warbreck Drive, Bispham, has been selected to become a free school in September 2013.

It means the school, which has previously been fee-paying, will be accessible for free to the whole community.

Principal Carol Stallard said: “We’re delighted by this news which allows us to bring the high standards, family values, ethos and aspirations ingrained in Langdale’s 92-year history and traditions, to the whole local community, regardless of their financial circumstance.”

Free schools are all-ability state-funded facilities which are still inspected by Ofsted.

The first free schools were set up in the UK in September 2011 and Langdale has been chosen to convert to free school status as part of the Government’s third wave.

Langdale’s class sizes will continue to be limited to only 18 pupils per class – a lot smaller than classes in other primary schools.

MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Paul Maynard, said “The establishment of a free school in Blackpool would widen choice for parents and provide greater diversity of provision for children from all backgrounds.

“This is a landmark day for improving the quality of education in Blackpool and the Fylde.”

In its last Ofsted inspection in 2009, the school was deemed good with some outstanding aspects in the early years department.

And this year, 100 per cent of Year Six pupils achieved Level 5 in both Maths and English SATs, which is at least a year ahead of the Government standard.

In the application process for school places, Langdale was nominated as the first choice for 237 pupils.

This is more than four times current capacity, although capacity will be expanded from 54 to between 70 and 80 pupils for this September and to 126 for September 2013.

Parents who have already registered interest are being contacted by the school.

Mrs Stallard added: “We expect this exciting news will now cause demand for places to explode, and many parents who have already registered interest will want to take up a place for their children from as early as this coming September.

“We are now working closely with the Department for Education and the local authority to finalise our conversion to a free school.”

Langdale will remain a fee-paying school for the coming academic year but will be free to all parents in the local area from September 2013 once a funding agreement is finalised with the Department for Education.

The deadline for September 2012 places is August 15.

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