COGGES Farm in Witney has been revealed as the potential site of a new 60-pupil ‘free school’ run by home-educating parents.
Details of the planned location were published on the group’s website — although parents behind the proposal said no site had yet been confirmed.
Last month, the Witney Gazette reported how parents in West Oxfordshire wanted to open the county’s first ‘free school’ offering a less formal type of education to four- to 16-year-olds.
If approved by the Department for Education, it would be state-funded and it would operate outside local education authority control.
The former Cogges Manor Farm Museum is being transferred from Oxfordshire County Council to a charitable trust as part of a plan to secure its future and keep it open to visitors.
Judy Niner, of Cogges Heritage Trust, said: “Cogges Farm is going to return to being an active farmstead open to the public.
“There is space there, and we are looking at different uses that are appropriate, fit together and are going to help us achieve our vision.
“The free school is one of a number of possibilities, and we are having to weigh them all up against each other to see what offers the most appropriate mix of uses to have at Cogges.”
Mother-of-two Louisa Nutt, 43, one of the parents behind the proposals, said: “No site for the school has been confirmed.
“We are currently working on our proposal, which needs to go to the Department for Education in January, at roughly the same time as we will hold a meeting for potential parents, governors and people who want to become involved.”
She added since the idea was revealed in the Witney Gazette at the beginning of December, she and other mothers had been contacted by parents interested in the plan.
But Ms Nutt said if approved, it would become the first Steiner Waldorf school in Oxfordshire.
There are 1,000 such schools worldwide, based on the theories of Austrian educationalist Dr Rudolf Steiner and claiming to offer “unhurried and creative learning” which lets children explore their artistic and emotional sides.
Lessons would include dance and singing sessions, cross-curricular lessons rather than traditional academic subjects, and activities including animal management, allotment gardening and forest craft.
Adults would not mark the children’s work, although more formal teaching methods would be introduced for teenagers preparing for GCSEs.
Ms Nutt said: “The idea is that the child marks their own progress and looks at what is wrong and what is correct.
“The principle is the child’s work is never defaced by any adult. The child can change it, but the adult has no right to say ‘that is not correct’ or ‘that is spelt wrongly’.”
Cogges Farm was closed to the public throughout 2010, and negotiations over the lease are continuing between the county council and the new trust. County Hall decided to hand over the museum’s management because it was losing £200,000 a year, despite attracting 30,000 visitors.
The public meeting to discuss the proposed new free school will be held at 2.30pm on Sunday, January 23, in St Mary’s Church, Witney.