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Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Bristol Free School publishes first prospectus

By Robin Markwell
BBC Bristol

A fledgling Bristol school that - as yet - has no classrooms or pupils has published its first prospectus.

Bristol Free School prospectus
The Bristol Free School is being set up by a group of parents

Latin features on the curriculum at the Bristol Free School and every child is to have the chance to learn a musical instrument.

The school is being set up by Parents Voice, a group of parents as part of the coalition government's plans to empower local communities. It's one of 25 to receive government approval and the only one in the West.

A shortlist of four potential sites for the school has been drawn up - to be whittled down to one by next January.

The BBC understands the former St Ursulas school in Westbury-on-Trym is on that list. It might prove a controversial option - as the Christian charity Oasis Community Learning has only recently moved in to run its own school there.

The charity has gained a one year lease from Bristol City Council which now owns the site.

The parents have appointed the consultant group Russell Education Trust to advise them on how to run their school.

Karen Lynch from the trust says an opening date of September 2011 can be achieved.

Grassroots schooling

"This is a pretty lively group of parents and they are very clear about what they want to do. Ministers are determined to push through schools that have come from the grassroots up and the case here is incredibly strong.

"Over 300 parents last year in this area didn't have a local school to send their children to."

St Ursulas School
Could St Ursulas be home to the Bristol Free School?

The Bristol Free School is to be secular, run like an academy and entirely funded by central government.

Parents will have a greater say on what appears on the curriculum and the prospect of children learning Latin raised a few eyebrows at the launch of the prospectus.

Nick Short, from Parent Voice, said: "A lot of parents in this area recognise the importance of concentrating on the basics - English, maths and science - they're the foundation to a lot of other subjects.

"At the same time we think it's important to provide a broad and rich curriculum. We do subscribe to the idea that Latin is important.

"It's the foundation of modern language and if you are looking at a career in medicine or law, it's an important subject to understand."

If the government agrees to fund the school application and if a location can be found, then up to 150 Year 7s could start their education at the new school in Bristol next September.

In the meantime - there's just the small matter of hiring the staff, finding a headteacher and formulating an admissions policy that keeps the local community happy.

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