Advance free school appoints headteacher but could open in Upper Norwood using temporary classrooms

The school's founders want to build it on Green Lane playing fields

The school's founders want to build it on Green Lane playing fields

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Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter - Croydon

The founder of a proposed new free school has appointed a headteacher and insisted it will open in September as scheduled despite not yet securing a site.

Advance School is likely to launch in Upper Norwood this autumn using temporary classrooms, with the Department for Education (DfE) still locked in talks with the council about its permanent home.

The 630-pupil primary school is proposed to be constructed on the Green Lane sports ground, off Highbury Avenue.

Serena Hemmings, currently deputy head at Ark Oval Primary School in Addiscombe, will be the new school's headteacher.

Advance has yet to submit a planning application for the building, with the DfE's Education Funding Agency still in talks with Croydon Council about the use of the land and potential traffic issues.

But founder Russell King - a senior Wandsworth councillor -  said he was "100 per cent" certain the school would open in September, using temporary buildings on the same site if necessary.

Labour councillors criticised the plans, which they said would rob residents of an important green space, when they were unveiled in October.

But Mr King said: "No one wants to build on greens pace but we are trying to address a school place shortage and there were no alternative sites."

Advance School, which will taken on 90 children a year, will employ 'team-teaching' in which two teachers take maths and English lessons togther.

Ms Hemmings said: "I am delighted to have been appointed the founding Headteacher of the Advance School.

"The team teaching model will help to ensure that all of our children get off to the best possible start."

Croydon Guardian:

Advance School founder Russell King, a Wandsworth councillor

Harry Waddingham, chair of governors, said: "Serena is exactly what we were looking for in our headteacher.

"Anyone who meets Serena can’t help but be impressed with her energy and enthusiasm for the Advance school vision.

"She has an outstanding track record and combined with her ability to build great relationships with children and parents means that the Advance School will get off to the best possible start."

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