Berkshire

Reading free school The Wren given permission for new buildings

Former Elvian school Image copyright Des Blenkinsopp
Image caption The school is on the site of the former independent Elvian School, which closed in July 2010 after funding issues

A newly-opened free secondary school in Reading has been given the go-ahead to build a permanent home.

Reading Borough Council agreed planning permission for Wren School's proposals for new premises, including sixth form provision, on Bath Road.

It has been operating out of temporary buildings at the site since it opened in September.

The school's prospectus said the plans would provide a "modern, attractive environment".

West Reading Education Network (Wren) opened as a school in September after parents won a High Court challenge to protect the land, formerly occupied by the independent Elvian school, for education.

About 100 children started at the school, which eventually aims to accommodate more than 1,100.

Council planners recommended the project be accepted, describing it as a "major piece of educational infrastructure".

A planning application by Taylor Wimpey to build 120 homes on the site was also approved by the council's planning committee.


What is a free school?

Free schools are set up by groups of parents, teachers, charities, businesses, universities, trusts, religious or voluntary groups, but funded directly by central government.

They are often run by an "education provider" - an organisation or company brought in by the group launching the school - but these firms are not allowed to make a profit.

The schools are independent of local authorities and, unlike local-authority-run schools, are exempt from teaching the national curriculum and have increased control over teachers' pay and conditions and the length of school terms and days.


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