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Compass SE1 ‘free school’ for year 7-11 pupils could open in 2012

The Compass Schools Trust has announced its intention to apply to open and run a 'free school' in SE1 for pupils in years 7 to 11. The school could be open as soon as September 2012.

Compass Schools Trust was founded by railway entrepreneur Peter Wilkinson, best known locally as chairman of the Trustees of Borough Market.

Mr Wilkinson, a former London Underground and British Rail manager, divides his time between Southwark and Vienna.

He hopes to set up a new secondary school using the new 'free school' mechanism championed by education secretary Michael Gove.

The school will initially cater for years 7 to 11 and there are hopes that a sixth form will be added in due course.

"We will be seeking support from local parents and other stakeholders across the SE1 area and across school year groups to complement existing provision," says Peter Wilkinson.

"We are keen to create a wave of support from anyone who puts a quality education for local children of all backgrounds at the top of their priorities. This goes beyond parents to the wider community, the business community and to politicians too.

"There's been fantastic amount of investment from Southwark Council and I have great respect for what they are achieving but there's more to be done to ensure that local families have access to good local school places. With only 52 per cent getting their first choice of school within Southwark, too many families are forced to seek places elsewhere and we'd like to help improve that situation.

"Compass Schools will focus on making sure that every pupil is competent and confident in the basics as part of a wider education that supports each pupil in preparation for life and work in a modern and global society. We want to help produce citizens who are sought after both by employers and further education institutions and who are capable of deciding for themselves what path they wish to follow and equipping them to do so."

There are also proposals for at least two primary-level free schools in Southwark; the London Bridge Free School proposes a bilingual English-French curriculum and the Deutsche Bilingual Primary School will teach German.

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