West Newcastle Academy (WNA), the first free school to open in the city, will welcome the first intake of reception children in their temporary classrooms at Benwell Nature Park today.
The school opens with just one reception class, subject to planning consent a new school will be built nearby in 2014, adding a new reception intake each September until full in 2019.
WNA headteacher Susan Percy said: “The whole team have worked extremely hard to get the classroom prepared in time for opening, but it’s worth the effort when you finally see happy children walk through the door.
“On behalf of the trust I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved, everyone who believed in us, and everyone who has helped us bring the project through to opening.
“I’m incredibly proud to have been part of the team who have created regeneration, government investment and employment in what is one of the most deprived communities in the region.
“Throughout the pre-opening process the project has attracted a lot of interest in the community and in the wider area, one of the criticisms aimed at us was that people would be travelling from outside the area to attend our school.
“So it is very pleasing that we have attracted mainly local families in our admissions, with most living within walking distance.
“For the first time parents and carers in Benwell who don’t have the income to pay for private schooling, or can’t afford to move to a catchment area of an outstanding school, now have more choice in where and how their children are educated.
“Operating outside of the national curriculum and incorporating learning in nature, we will be offering individual learning plans and focussing on the needs and interests of every child, along with supporting parents and carers build their confidence to enable them to support their child’s learning at home.
“Our school will not only be a beacon of excellence, innovation and creativity, but also a facility for the whole community to utilise out of school hours.
“We have already offered meeting space to a dads group and can provide adult learning and support for parents through our partners; community and resident groups will be able to book and use the facilities for events and meetings in the evening and weekends.”
Performing the opening ceremony later this week, is north east Conservative MEP Martin Callanan, he said: “I’ve taken a keen interest in this project from the start. The team at WNA have done an outstanding job and I congratulate them for successfully moving the project to opening.
“I fully support this initiative and am delighted to see the Government backing this new school in the North East. It will create jobs and improve educational outcomes for people living in the West End.”
Parents interested in applying for places in 2014 can meet staff and view the facilities at the school open day on September 28th10am -1pm, or contact WNA on 0191 2425407 or email: email@example.com to request a prospectus.