Eastbourne free school head meets Prime Minister

Lea Gilbert outside Downing Street SUS-150309-124434001
Lea Gilbert outside Downing Street SUS-150309-124434001

An Eastbourne headteacher has met with David Cameron at a Downing Street reception on free schools.

Lea Gilbert, headteacher at Gildredge House attended the reception at the Prime Minister’s home alongside heads and teachers from other high-performing free schools.

Speaking at the reception, Lea said, “I think the best thing about the free schools initiative is that it empowers groups of people to do something really exciting. One of the things that parents say to me is that our school is a breath of fresh air, and so that’s one of the things that we have done.

“And I know we’ve made a discernible difference in our town. I think also, just that sense of freedom, of course responsibility comes with it, and there’s huge challenges with that, but that feeling of - we are in charge of our own destiny - we can actually work ourselves on an entrepreneurial vision for our school and our students, and we can be aspirational in what we’re doing and exciting and push the boundaries of our curriculum. We’re doing it in all sorts of ways at our school and the free school programme has allowed us to do that.

“I think also in our coastal town we’re offering a very aspirational environment, it’s enriched, it’s an extended school day, it’s got all sorts of activities, it’s full of extremely strong sporting provision, we offer subjects that perhaps you wouldn’t normally find in a state school - Latin for instance, which is my subject. So the freedom to be able to really invest in those sorts of things I think, is the thing that brings parents and students to the school - they love it, they support it and in that regard we are giving a huge amount to the community.”

The reception coincides with an announcement by the Prime Minister, committing to open 500 new free schools over the next five years.

More than 250 free schools have been opened since 2010 while close to a hundred more are expected to open in the near future.

The latest application window to set up a free school opens on 28 September and runs until 7 October,

Prime Minister David Cameron said, “As a One Nation Government we are clear that every family should have access to a great local school and every child should get the very best education - and free schools are a crucial part of that aim. The aim of this policy is crystal clear - to increase the number of good and outstanding school places so that more parents have the security of knowing their child is getting a great education.

“Today’s announcement shows that we will not waver in pressing ahead with our plans to open 500 more of these innovative and exciting schools over the next five years, creating 270,000 places, delivering an excellent education and giving parents across the country real choice for their children.”

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1) Make our website your homepage at www.eastbourneherald.co.uk/

2) Like our Facebook page at Text to display

3) Follow us on Twitter @Eastbournenews

4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

The Eastbourne Herald - always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.