Next stage for Thetford free school plans

Plans for a free school in Thetford aimed at children with learning and behavioural difficulties have made it through to the interview stage for the second time.

Proposer behind the Thetford Free School bid will meet with government officials tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss their ideas.

It is the second time the plans have made it on to the department for education’s (DfE) shortlist having got down to the final 10 applications last year.

Nico Dobben, headteacher designate, said: “We’re very pleased. We got this far last time as well but, in the end, we weren’t successful.

“We hope the fact that they have invited us back again means there was enough merit in the second application to see us again. Now we’ve got to convince them we have made the changes they wanted us to make and we can deliver it.”

Mr Dobben said the government had been pleased with the Thetford Free School plans last time but they had been turned down because of the quality of bids put in by rival proposers.

“We are a grass roots group,” he said. “We don’t have masses of money behind us although we do have the support of the community. We are going full of hope and very positive.”

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The Thetford Free School is one of three Norfolk free school bids to make it through to the interview stage.

The team behind the Norwich-based Sir Isaac Newton Free School, a specialist maths and science sixth form, had its interview yesterday while Future Projects will travel to London next month to promote its plan for the Future Free School for Norwich.

Hopes to create Benjamin’s School, a split site free school which would put students in control of their education, took a blow after being rejected by the government.

Richard Draper, founder of the Benjamin Foundation and one of the main proposers, has vowed to keep trying.