THE first free school to open in Newcastle this year has appointed a headteacher.
Susan Percy will take up the top job at West Newcastle Academy in April to ensure it will be ready to open in September.
Ms Percy is currently the head at Estcots Primary School in West Sussex, a position she has held for six years.
The school has a strong reputation for good care, high standards and happy children, and is rated as a good school by education watchdog Ofsted.
She said: “I’m looking forward to helping make this school a reality. It will be a real privilege to create a new primary school with such a distinctive ethos based on a strong curriculum and vision.
“My partner is a Geordie and I love spending time in Newcastle. I’ve always found people here very warm and friendly and had already decided to relocate here permanently.
“Parents applying for places can be assured that their children will receive an excellent education in an exciting and engaging learning environment.
“Learning will be fun, following a play-based curriculum in early years where children can explore their own interests and natural curiosity.
“All children are unique, so each child will have an individual learning plan based on their interests and talents.
“We also hope that parents would like to be involved in every aspect of our school too, and they will be encouraged and helped to create a supportive learning environment at home.
“Our plans to open the school are progressing well. We are on target to sign our funding agreement with the Secretary of State for Education around Easter 2013, and should have a site identified for a new build soon following our consultation.”
The free school has also received the backing of North East MEP Martin Callanan, who met with children and parents at a recent fun day hosted at Scotswood Natural Community Garden.
Mr Callanan said: “I am a big supporter of free schools and academies and, like many others, I am very keen to see more choice and education standards improving.
“Despite some claims that the free school policy is attracting applicants from only middle class areas, this proposed school is an excellent example of parents and teachers, supported by a small charity, responding to local demand and successfully applying to open a new school in Newcastle’s West End.
“Their aims are to raise standards and aspirations, as well as to increase social mobility. That will make a positive difference to people’s lives here and it is what this policy is all about.
“Susan, the school’s new head, clearly connects with children and parents. I’ll be following the school’s progress very closely and wish them every success.”
The application window for all Newcastle schools will close on January 15.
West Newcastle Academy is one of two free schools due to open this autumn. The other, Durham Free School, will serve communities to the south and east of Durham City.
Free schools are free from local authority control and are funded directly by the Government. They can set their own curriculum and policies from staffing to opening times.
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