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Bid for black 'free school' launched

PLANS: Bid for black 'free school' launched

TOP TEACHERS and leading community figures have teamed up to make an application for Britain’s first government funded black-run school.

Ex-head teachers are among the people who have joined forces with the south London-based Queen Mother Moore School (QMMS), to get the ambitious project off the ground.

The plan is for QMMS to be turned into one of the government’s handful of new “free schools” run by a community trust and not the local education authority. It would educate 420 children aged four to 18 on a site in Lambeth or nearby.

Veteran community activist Clarence Thompson, QMMS chair told The Voice: “We have been running the Saturday school since 1981 and it has changed the lives of 4,000 students since then.”

He said during a special meeting to plan the bid: “Now is the time for the community to take advantage of the government’s free school programme and launch it as a full-time place of educational excellence.”

The QMMS application has to be delivered to the government’s education department by early February.

Less than 100 schools, out of 326 applications, were given the green light to open in September 2012. QMMS wants to the same next September.

Founder the Reverend Hewie Andrew, said: “We are delighted that so many parents, students, teachers as well as professionals in the community have given us their resounding support.”

Among leading backers are ex-heads of the pioneering John Loughborough School, Keith Davidson and Dr. June Alexis, Professor Chris Mullard, millionaire businessman Enley Taylor, broadcaster Alex Pascall OBE, Vernon Bailey, a town hall finance high flyer and education consultants Dr. David Avery and Sharon Millington.

A spokesman for the Education Department said: “Applications would be judged solely on their quality.”

Renowned QMMS was formed by parents and teachers to rescue children who had either been thrown out of school or were having difficulties learning in a mainstream classroom. 

More than three decades ago the “supplementary school” movement sprang up all over the country to tackle head on what they saw as the miseducation, stereotyping and low expectations some teachers had of black children that caused them to fail.

Activists also campaigned to get black history taught in schools.
Since its launch, QMMS has been at Clapham Methodist Church hall for four hours every Saturday during term time and also provided after school tuition in core subjects for students preparing for exams like SATS and GCSEs.

Its bosses believe the school’s emphasis on teaching excellence will help students become future experts in English, natural scientists, mathematicians, engineers and sports personalities. 
Nobel prizewinner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, author Maya Angelou and prominent US professor Cornell West have visited the school and expressed their admiration for its work.

The first Free Schools opened in September 2011, just 15 months after the Secretary of State, Rt Hon. Michael Gove MP, invited proposals from groups interested in setting up a new school.

That in itself is testament to the incredible energy and commitment of the first pioneering projects. Following their lead are hundreds of other groups with exciting and innovative projects. And as a result of their immense hard work and effort, there will be a greater opportunity for children to learn and develop in the way that's best for them.

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