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A GROUP of parents who educate their children at home are planning to use a new law to set up the county’s first new ‘free school’.

The three mums behind the plan have withdrawn their children from state schools, but said their planned 60-pupil school in Witney, educating children aged between four and 16, would offer a different sort of education not based on the National Curriculum.

The Government passed legislation in July to allow parents, charities and businesses the chance to set up their own schools, backed by state funding but operating outside of usual restrictions.

The home schooling parents, who met the Prime Minister to discuss the plans on Friday, hope the school will open in September 2011.

Trained teacher Louisa Nutt, 43, of The Crofts, Witney, who educates her five-year-old twins Millis and Bilbo at home, said they had started negotiations to acquire premises in the town.

She said: “Every parent has a different reason for home-educating, but when the opportunity arose to create our own school, it sounded too good to be true.

“We will be able to reflect a lot of the ideals we believe in.

“We would employ teachers, but keep our strong core values, including one of parental involvement.”

Mum-of-three Susie Coul, 35, from Carterton, pointed to the National Curriculum, SATS and bullying as reasons for withdrawing her children from state school.

She said: “I would rather my children were not inflicted with that.”

Prime Minister David Cameron told the Oxford Mail he was “most interested” about the plans and said he would stay in touch as the project developed.

And Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Louise Mendonca said it was happy to hear from anybody interested in setting up a free school.

She said: “We have had a number of approaches from organisations and individuals who have expressed an interest and we will be inviting them to a meeting where the council will outline the challenges and opportunities it faces against the backdrop of a rising school population in the county.”

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