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Encouraging DfE meeting moves plan a step closer

Ebor Academy Trust submitted an application to the Department for Education (DfE) in March to set up the new primary school and this month were invited to interview to continue to explore the possibility with government officials. Ebor’s was one of 200 free school bids submitted from groups across the country and according to DfE sources, the quality of applications for this round is so strong that officials expect a “conversion rate” of 50 per cent or more.
A decision has been promised before the end of the summer term.
A delegation from Ebor Academy Trust travelled to DfE offices in Sheffield for a 90-minute meeting to discuss the York proposal which, if approved, would mean the school could be up and running from September 2017.
“Officials wanted to know more detail about our plans and a panel of five quizzed us on every aspect of our proposal,” said Ebor’s chief executive, Richard Ludlow. “It was a good meeting, very thorough, and gave us another opportunity to explain our vision.”
If approved in July, the school, called the Creative Arts Academy York, would put creative arts at the centre of the curriculum, extending the school day as appropriate for older children to include as standard at no cost what would normally be optional after-school clubs at other primary schools.
The school would have a catchment area of the whole of York and would have a banded admissions policy, to include children of all abilities. It would help ease the pressure on the city’s anticipated shortage of primary school places and would provide diversity – something different for parents to choose for their children. Although a mainstream school, there would also be specialist inclusive provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Mr Ludlow said: “We explained how involvement in the arts improves maths, reading and cognitive ability, uses critical thinking and verbal skills, improves concentration, confidence and builds teamwork. We are very keen on being all-inclusive and would provide an excellent primary education, based on outstanding practices at some of our other schools, but with a clear focus on creative arts. With York being the only UNESCO City of Media Arts in the country, and with the local authority committed to the creative industries, we can have an exciting and innovative education provision at the heart of all this activity.
“We have our fingers well and truly crossed for a successful outcome.”
In the seven weeks since the proposal was launched, in The Press, on 11 January, and it being submitted in early March, parents of 88 children in York who would be starting Reception class in September 2017 expressed an interest in joining the Creative Arts Academy via the school’s website. Key figures involved in the arts and music in York and nationally have been enthusiastic about the prospect of the new school.
Should it get the go-ahead, the school may be located on the former Park and Ride site at Askham Bar, but this is still subject to negotiation.

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