Route 39 school plans gather pace.

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SIX possible sites have been identified for a brand new parent-led state secondary school in North Devon.

Plans for the Route 39 free school were approved by the Prime Minister and Education Secretary Michael Gove in July and the parent-led group behind the proposal say the school is now in the ‘pre-opening’ phase.

Members have already formed the Route 39 Academy Trust and have received their first round of Government funding. They are currently holding meetings with the Education Funding Agency to assess the suitability of the six potential sites on the A39 between Hartland and Bucks Cross.

Route 39’s Emma Morrison said: “Obviously, with the school planning to open next September with 100 year seven students, the timing is very tight and there are a multitude of processes to complete and planning hoops to jump through.

“However, the Department for Education and the Education Funding Agency are meeting with us regularly and ensuring there is the highest level of support available.”

The Trust has also started to recruit a head teacher, being called a ‘principal designate’.

“We are looking for someone to start early in the new year,” said Richard Bence.

“This means that we need to place the advert this September to allow candidates to give enough notice to their existing schools.”

“Once a principal designate is established, he or she will work towards every aspect of the school development with the Route 39 team – and most importantly be at hand to meet prospective parents and students.”

Despite the challenges ahead, the group says it has been inspired by the other free school groups that have already successfully opened as academies and had their first pupils through their doors.

“There is a great culture among the free school movement of sharing of experience and of helping each other,” said Sophie Poklewski Koziell.

“We are in the third raft of free schools to be established, and the process has really developed and honed, so our group will not have to deal with some of the pitfalls and frustrations that our predecessors suffered.”

The group is inviting prospective students and their parents to register their interest at an open day being held in Woolsery Community Hall, on Saturday, October 13.

Route 39 Academy is offering 100 places for year seven pupils for September 2013, while parents of year six children can now apply online through both Cornwall and Devon county council school admissions process.

To register interest in attending the open day or for more information, visit www.route39.org.uk

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