School ready to welcome first pupils

Dining hall phase one at Gildredge House
Dining hall phase one at Gildredge House

The new Gildredge House Free School opens its doors for the first time on Wednesday (September 4).

The first phase of demolition and building work has been completed at the old Dental Board site in Old Town – ready for the opening of the new school which will, eventually, taken Reception through to Sixth Form.

September 2013 will see the arrival of two full Reception classes and six full Year Seven classes. The first 176 students will arrive in their school uniform and start their education at Gildredge House next week. It will continue this pattern at the start of each academic year and be up to its full capacity of 1,192 pupils by 2019.

A spokesperson from the school said, “It was a momentous occasion when we were handed the keys to the school last week. The classrooms are ready to welcome our first students, each set up with state-of-the-art equipment.

“Willmott Dixon have worked tirelessly to deliver all the facilities on time and to a high standard including a fully-serviced science laboratory, art, design and technology room and computer science suite.”

As a free school, Gildredge House is funded by central government rather than the local education authority. It is still inspected by Ofsted but has more control over its curriculum, teachers’ pay and conditions, and the length of school terms and days.

Free schools, along with academies, were introduced by the coalition government in 2010. Gildredge House had its funding agreement signed by the Department for Education in the middle of July – marking the last administration step before it could go ahead.

Now the school is looking to the future and inviting families with children due to start Year Seven in 2014 to an open evening on September 19 at 6.30pm to 8pm, Lea Gilbert, headmistress, will address parents at 6.45pm. Prospective parents will then have the opportunity to meet the teachers and visit the completed phase one area of the school. An Open Day for families with children due to start Reception in 2014 is take place on a later date.