Wales

Charlotte Church plans to open school in her Dinas Powys home

Charlotte Church Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Charlotte Church wants to open a school with "a healthy disregard for rules and specifications"

Charlotte Church wants to turn part of her home in Wales into a school for 20 children.

The singer said she will fund the first year of the school at her home in Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan.

Her husband Jonny Powell has submitted a planning application for a non-fee-paying school for pupils aged between nine and 12.

Ms Church, 33, said mainstream education was "struggling" with under-funding and overcrowding.

She has previously spoken of her desire to open a secondary school in south Wales having said the way we teach our children is "at best imperfect, at worst damaging".

If approved, the school will be established within a two-storey annex of her home until a more permanent site is found.

"Since I've had kids, I have become much more interested in education and child development," she said.

"We started looking at different options available to us. It became apparent that mainstream is struggling with underfunding and overcrowding - teachers are incredibly tested.

"It's not their fault the way things are - the system is not working."

Image caption Charlotte Church was once known as the "voice of an angel" and sang across the world at star-studded events

The idea is part of The Awen Project, which she has set up and hopes will grow into a charity to set up other independent schools. 

Pupils would be given a say over the rules of the new school as well as how lessons would be delivered, what food they eat, and how they travel to school.

Ms Church has spent the past 18 months visiting schools across the UK.

She said: "We're trying to create something really based on everything we know about how humans learn best."

Ms Church will teach music and intends to send both her children - Dexter and Ruby - to the school.

"I totally believe in the transformation of the whole education system and I want to play an active part in making that change," she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

"How are we supposed to be creating a new society if all we're doing is imposing on children what we say is important?

"Just because they are younger than us, they still have a voice in society and a right to be listened to."

Dinas Powys Community Council objected to the proposal as being "detrimental to the character" of the area.

Councillor Andrew Robertson said some neighbours were concerned over the impact of traffic and noise.

Vale of Glamorgan council is set to make a decision this month.

How easy is it to set up your own school?

Once the money has been secured for a property and to pay teachers, any new school must be registered and inspected, according to which part of the UK it is established.

The process for setting up a new school - for five or more pupils of compulsory school age (5-16) - is rigorous but has been streamlined, so it usually takes little more than a year from approval to the school opening its doors.

Under law, all schools must reach required standards of education, "spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students", the welfare, health and safety of students and the premises and accommodation at the school. They must also establish a complaints procedure for parents.

However they do not need to comply with the national curriculum and are free to teach what they like, as long as it does not contravene laws, such as those ruling against inciting racial hatred.

Nor do they have to offer the same qualifications. In fact many have opted for the international baccalaureate rather than A-levels, though most primary age schools do take part in national tests.

More on this story