Self defence class at Gildredge House School
Self defence class at Gildredge House School

A new free school in Eastbourne is hoping to open its sixth form early.

As the school gets ready to consult in the new year the students at Gildredge House in Old Town have been celebrating the end of a successful first term.

Work on the second phase of the site development is progressing well and a series of fundraisers have been held. The house harvest raised 322.4kg of donations for Eastbourne Foodbank, Children in Need mufti day raised £212.71 and its contribution to the Poppy Appeal for Remembrance Day was £95.36.

Gildredge House opened in September with two year groups of students, in Reception and Year 7. Eventually, the all-through school will cater for students aged four-19, across several phases of education.

Headmistress Lea Gilbert said, “Our Reception and particularly Year 7 students are the pioneers and as a result there is a high expectation of them to lead, as they are the only students we have on site.

“This means that they are prefects who carry out daily duties. They have also led events which adults or older students would normally have run – they were tour guides at the Year 7 Open Evening and they ran most of the stalls at the Christmas fayre, which raised over £1,500 for the Children With Cancer Fund and the school’s own library development.”

The school, in Compton Place Road, is about to go to consultation with a proposal for an earlier opening of its sixth form provision.

The current Year 7 cohort would be the first to reach the Sixth Form in 2018, if development were to continue as planned.

The school, however, believes that it has a lot to contribute to the post-16 context in Eastbourne by opening up to the wider community from 2015.

Since this is a significant change from the original proposal, it has to carry out a consultation and present its findings and business case to the Department for Education.

Mrs Gilbert said, “Our feeling at Gildredge House is: why wait? We will have a stand-alone Sixth Form Centre ready from next year and most of our secondary teachers can already teach their subjects to A Level.

At a time when the age of participation is being raised, it’s important that we consider what we can do to improve outcomes at age 16+ in the town.”

The Sixth Form consultation will run from January 3 - February 28 and will include the opportunity for the community to visit the school. Details of the consultation are available via the school office on 400650 or visiting: www.gildredgehouse.org.uk