City’s first free school ‘will be different to all the others’

Wakefield City Academy headteacher Alan Yellop.
Wakefield City Academy headteacher Alan Yellop.

Wakefield could be set to get its first free school.

The Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) will submit an application to the department for education in the New Year for a new school for 16 to 19-year-olds.

If successful, the school will open in September 2015, offering a mix of qualifications ranging from A-Levels and BTECs to apprenticeships.

The WCAT already runs Wakefield City Academy locally, which was judged to be outstanding by ofsted in three consecutive reports. Chief executive Alan Yellup said: “The new school will have all the hallmarks that have made City Academy succeed against all the odds.”

The Eastmoor school has always wanted a sixth form, but cannot extend its age range because of Department for Education rules. The free school is a way around that – and although Mr Yellup admits he has always been a critic of this type of school, he claimed this one will be different.

He added: “Many have been set up by industrialists and business people, not educationists. Ours will be set up by successful educationists and staffed by fully-qualified teachers.”

The school will cater for 200 students from across the city, and suitable locations are currently being sought.

Free schools are all-ability, state-funded schools set up in response to parental demand.

By 2015 young people will be required by law to stay on in education or training, at least part-time, until they are 18 years old.

Mr Yellup said the new school will help lower drop-out rates of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. He said: “They can lose their way a bit in bigger learning environments, which aren’t suitable for everyone.”

WCAT has three secondary schools Wakefield City Academy, Hemsworth Arts and Community Academy and Balby Carr Community Academy in Doncaster. It also has two primary schools Havercroft Academy and West End Academy as partner schools within the Trust.