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Head hails nature of his free school
AMERICA sports, close links with businesses and a specialism in history will form part of the curriculum at North Oxfordshire’s new free school.
Headteacher David Castles, pictured, has revealed more details about how Heyford Park Free School will be run, its facilities, and his vision for the school.
Due to open next September to 60 reception and 60 Year Seven pupils, the school aims eventually to take 840 children from age four to 19.
Former Oxford University graduate Mr Castles, 32, said the school will follow the GCSE and A-Level path, and history would be among the core subjects.
All children will take a GCSE in foreign languages, and pupils will have links to local businesses throughout their school days.
With history as its specialism, the school will draw on the past of the former Cold War US Airforce base it will occupy.
Work will begin next year to convert a former officers’ mess into the school.
Youngsters will also get the benefit of an athletics track, racquet ball, baseball and basketball courts, a gym, tennis courts and pitches, which were all moth-balled after the Americans left in the 1990s. A uniform has yet to be decided.
Mr Castle said: “I’m attracted not because of any political link to a free school, but by the community nature of the school.
“We are trying to increase the opportunities for young people and need to respond to what the local community want and what the local needs are.”
It is unclear how many jobs the school will create, but the next key appointments will be the leadership team.
This will include posts in developing the primary curriculum, and subject heads for English, Maths and science, and a special educational needs co-ordinator.
Mr Castles also hopes to employ specialist teachers such as music and languages The headteacher, who is married and lives in Bicester, said: “One of the things which the all-through school benefits from are the community links that primary schools benefit from.
“We will continue to know the children and work with the parents. For a lot of children the transition to secondary school, where the year groups become large, can really stall their development at that stage. At Heyford Park they will be able to have a continuous path.
“I think the challenges are allowing students the opportunity to develop and to mature as they move through the school, because progress through school is a rite of passage in this country.”
He plans to give older children specific responsibilities and roles as they move through the year groups.
Younger and older children will also have separate play areas, but the school will introduce a mixed tutor group system so that all ages are integrated.
Admissions for Year Seven pupils starting next September will be dealt with by Oxfordshire County Council.