Plan for biggest free school in the country

Rebekah Taylor, Principal for the Ruth Gorse Academy
Rebekah Taylor, Principal for the Ruth Gorse Academy

A planning application has been submitted for a new free school in the south of Leeds which is expected to become one of the biggest in the country.

The Ruth Gorse Academy opened in a temporary location in Morley in September but aims to move into a new base in Black Bull Street, Hunslet in 2016.

The Department for Education has given its backing for the school to open and agreed £23m to provide a permanent base for the school.

A report to last month’s planning panel at Leeds City Council said the free school would provide much needed places.

It said that without it there would be a shortfall of around 1,250 places in the city by September 2018.

The Ruth Gorse Academy is currently based on a separate building on the Morley Academy site. It is sponsored by the Gorse Academies Trust which runs both Morley and Farley Academies.

The trust and the new free school are named after Ruth Gorse, a PE teacher at what was then Morley High, who lost a battle with cancer aged just 35.

The plan for the free school has also been backed by Leeds Sustainable Development Group which sees it as a major step towards developing family living in the city centre.

Free schools were a key education policy of the last Government which encouraged the creation of new state schools set up by existing schools, faith groups, parents, charities or community organisations.

The free school will take on pupils in year seven each year - eventually growing to 1,500 pupils making it the biggest of its kind in the country

Rebekah Taylor, the principal designate of the Ruth Gorse Academy, said “There are 39 secondary schools in Leeds and four are rated as being outstanding by Ofsted. Two of those are ours. Morley and Farnley Academies.”

Mrs Taylor said the same ethos that has helped deliver success at these two schools would exist at the new Ruth Gorse Academy.