Plans for new city faith-based school

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TWO public meetings are to take place to discuss plans for Sheffield’s first faith-based free school.

The proposals come from the currently independent Bethany School in Netherthorpe, which was founded 25 years ago and now has around 100 pupils.

Governors want it to expand to become the Sheffield Christian Free School, providing state education for 1,000 youngsters funded directly from central government.

The first meeting is to be held on tonight at 7.30pm at the Jubilee Centre on Wilson Road near Hunters Bar.

The second will be at the same venue and time on Monday, November 21.

To get state funding the school must be able to show there is sufficient demand from parents in the city and produce a business plan.

The Bethany governors want to submit their proposals by May next year, with the school opening in 10 centres across the city in September 2013.

They say they will use any building available - a former pub, library, industrial unit or even a large home.

And school governors say centres will be set up where demand is strongest.

Bethany currently teaches children aged between four and 16 and has a central thread of Christian teachings at the heart of its curriculum.

Governors say they want to put a moral, family-led education at the heart of every community - but first they must gauge levels of support.

“Our school has been successful for 25 years - we’ve got a proven track record and we feel we’ve got something to offer,” said headteacher Ken Walze.

“If Sheffield grabs hold of this as an idea it could have a big impact on the city.”

The school has eight full-time teachers and is based in a former church and already has one off-shoot in Nether Edge.

Under Government rules the new Christian school would retain autonomy over its curriculum and staffing.

But the school would have to conform to SheffieldCouncil’s admissions procedures and be subject to Ofsted inspections.