RESIDENTS are being asked their views on creating Durham’s first free school.

Prime Minister David Cameron gave the Durham Free School project the go-ahead last July.

But the group must now stage a major public consultation exercise, before submitting a final proposal to the Department for Education for approval this spring.

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The consultation began today (Monday, January 28) and runs until Friday, March 8.

Headteacher Peter Cantley said: “We already have approval from the Government to progress with our pre-opening activities for a new non-selective and all-inclusive Christian secondary school, beginning with a small year seven of 60 students and gradually built up to full capacity over seven years.

“The aim of the public consultation is to provide more information, to answer questions and to hear the views and requests of local people.

“I and the rest of the Durham Free School team very much look forward to meeting and hearing from anyone with an interest in the development of the school.”

A questionnaire is available online at

Completed questionnaires should be posted to: Appleyards, Tubs Hill House, London Road, Sevenoaks, TN13 1BL; or emailed to:

A consultation meeting will be held at Bowburn Hall Hotel, near Bowburn, on Tuesday, February 12, at 7.30pm.

The free school campaign was launched by families to the south-east of Durham City who struggled to get their children into the oversubscribed Durham Johnston School.

It will open in September, initially with around 60 year seven pupils and three teachers, before expanding by one year group each academic year to an 11 to 18 school and sixth form with up to 840 students.

If the school is oversubscribed, places would be allocated to siblings of existing pupils, then to children living in local parishes. Religion will not be considered.

The location of the school is expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

Applications for places in September can be made until the end of this term, at

Officials say applying for the free school does not affect applications to other schools.