Enough applications for Oxfordshire’s first free school have been made to fill 70 per cent of the available places.
Parents still have until next Monday to apply for the Europa School, Culham, but already there are sufficient applications to fill the 56 places in reception and most of the other spaces available in Year 1 and Year 2 entry, which can each cater for two classes of 28 children.
The news comes as organisers of the multilingual free school announced they have appointed a headteacher – Peter Ashbourne, 55.
It will be the first time Mr Ashbourne has taught in the UK since 1987, and he comes to the post with experience teaching in Switzerland, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, and France.
The school is based on the European School model, where children are taught in at least two languages, and will eventually take over from the existing European School in Culham.
Mr Ashbourne said: “In terms of what attracted me to this post, it was certainly the bilingual education.
“I think it is a good thing if the need and the demand is there and there clearly is a demand for bilingual education in the Oxford region.
“The fact the school will now be affordable for people of any financial background is excellent.”
He anticipated the school would particularly appeal to families where two languages were spoken at home and those with European backgrounds, but also to other families with an interest in bilingual education.
He said: “I think we’ll be full and I anticipate as the year groups progress, we’ll fill up much through reception each time. I gather there is quite a shortage of places in Oxford.”
Mr Ashbourne is the first member of staff to be appointed but it is planned to recruit seven full-time equivalent teachers, six full-time equivalent teaching assistants, plus administrative staff, a receptionist, and someone to deal with finances.
Those posts are being advertised both locally, nationally and further afield.
Although free schools do not have to employ qualified teaching staff, the Europa School has pledged that all staff in teaching posts will have teaching qualifications.
He added: “We are going to be a unique school however you look at it.
“Even if there were another 20 free schools around it, we would still be unique and I would see us as pioneering bilingual education available to all in the Oxford region, rather than free schools.”
If the school is oversubscribed, admissions will be determined according to proximity to four 'nodal' points.
An open day will be held at the school site, in Thame Lane, today with sessions at 10.30am and 1.30pm when there will be a chance to tour the facilities, meet Mr Ashbourne and ask questions.
To find out more, visit the school’s website europaschooluk.org THE FACTS The Europa School, in Culham, is a multilingual school due to open in September.
It will slowly grow to replace the existing Culham European School, set up in 1978 to provide for children of employees of the European Commission’s JET nuclear fusion project.
The school is preparing to close in 2017 because too few pupils are the children of workers at the project.
The new school will be multilingual and multicultural with a strong European ethos, such as European languages and science.
The places will be allocated based on how close children live to four ‘nodal points’.
The school plans to select 10 per cent of secondary pupils based on lanugage aptitude.
It will have a different headteacher and staff and eventually take 700 to 800 pupils, aged four to 18.