The Government gives green light for plans to move to next stage

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Kent could see four of the new breed of free schools open their doors as soon as September 2013.

The Department for Education agreed that each of four proposals in the county could go forward to the next stage of the application process.

They are:

-Hadlow Rural Community School, a secondary school for girls and boys (aged 11 to 16) with a capacity of 180 pupils in Hadlow

-The Wells Free Schools, a primary school for girls and boys (aged 4 to 11) with a capacity of 154 pupils in Tunbridge Wells

-The Sevenoaks Free School, a secondary school for girls and boys (aged 11 to 18) with a capacity of 790 pupils for Sevenoaks – planned as a non-denominational Christian school

-Wye Free School, a secondary school for girls and boys (aged 11 to 19) with a capacity of 600 pupils for Sevenoaks – with a Christian ethos.

Free schools, which can be set up by parents, charitable trusts or religious groups, are state funded but are not controlled by the local education authority, in this case Kent County Council.

However, as part of the application process KCC will be asked for its views on what impact the new schools would have on each local area.

The Department for Education will make the final decision, but KCC said it would be in touch with applicants to offer the relevant support.

KCC cabinet member for education, learning and skills Cllr Mike Whiting said: “Kent’s children go to a wide variety of different schools, from primary and secondary academies to independent schools and those maintained by the local authority.

“The principle of free schools is not going to revolutionise the way KCC approaches education and our priority will remain to see every child provided with the encouragement and opportunity that is right for them – so they can achieve their potential and be prepared for adulthood.

“At the same time, we will be looking thoroughly at the impact that each new school might have on its community and surrounding area – and we will take great care to make sure that we consider the best interests of Kent’s children in the way we respond.

“KCC officers will be in touch with the applicants to offer them any relevant support.”

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