No religious or sex education at new Bristol primary school
A NEW primary school planned for Bristol's inner city will focus on English, maths, "a strong moral code" and good behaviour – with no lessons about religion or sex education.
The team behind The Bristol Primary School, a proposed free school given the go-ahead earlier this month by Education Secretary Michael Gove, say this is what parents in the area want.
No religion will be taught in the school and there will be no sex education lessons. Little time will be given to PE during the week, but pupils will attend on Saturday mornings for sport, art and activities.
The school's statement says: "For too long vital elements of a child's early introduction into education have been overlooked with more emphasis placed upon play and social studies. The end result is that many children have failed to be able to read, apply basic mathematical understanding and require support in order to behave in a group."
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Andy Burkitt, chairman of the trustees of the Bristol Inner-City Schools Trust, which made the successful free school bid for the Easton and St Paul's area, said hundreds of parents had signed up in support.
The plan is to open in September 2013 with up to 60 four-year-old pupils and the same number of seven-olds. This would allow the school to grow within four years to up to 420 pupils aged four to 11.
Mr Burkitt, a retired youth worker and chairman of Ashley Community Housing, said he hoped to be able to announce next month where the school would be based.
The National Union of Teachers has expressed concern about the proposed primary and its possible impact on other schools in the neighbourhood. But Mr Burkitt said he did not think it would be a problem because of the numbers of children in the inner city seeking school places.
Bristol City Council said it had not known of the planned free school until it was announced by the Department for Education.
Free schools are one of Mr Gove's flagship policies. He wants to allow parents to open schools if they are unhappy with local provision.
Mr Burkitt said parents from a range of ethnic backgrounds in the multicultural inner city had approached the trust to ask for a school that had high aspirations for their children and aimed for academic excellence. "Parents want something a little bit different, which is more married to their needs. This has not been provided by the state system up to now. A free school is about delivering what parents want."
He said the education side would be run by Sabis, an international education provider that runs inner-city charter schools in America.
Mr Burkitt said an initial approach to the city council had been rebuffed so the trust had gone ahead with its plans. "We do not rule out working closely with the local authority in future," he said.