Grayling's college bids for free school

New College of the Humanities, the privately funded higher education institution charging fees of £18,000 a year, plans to open a free school in partnership with a private school firm.

January 19, 2013

NCH says in a statement today that it has applied to the Department for Education to open New School of the Humanities, a school for 11 to 18-year-olds in the London borough of Camden.

Two universities, Birmingham and Chester, already have permission to open free schools.

NCH’s school would be run in partnership with Bellevue Education Group, which owns seven private preparatory schools in the UK and two Swiss boarding schools.

Marwan Naja, Bellevue’s chairman, is a member of the NCH board. Mr Naja, a partner at Geneva-based asset management company AS Investment Management, describes himself as a “founding investor” in NCH on his personal website.

NCH, which is non-profit but is the subsidiary of for-profit Tertiary Education Services, says in its statement that the school would be co-educational and for “students of all backgrounds”. The school would have a curriculum focus on the humanities.

The school would mean “increasing choice and diversity for parents, carers and students”, NCH says. “Students will also benefit from smaller class sizes. The intention is to open with 100 students in Year 7 in 2014 and, when full in 2020, there will eventually be up to 740 students on roll.”

A.C. Grayling, master of NCH, said: “Personal enrichment is a highly important educational value, and New School of the Humanities will provide a thorough grounding in the curriculum while allowing students to develop as imaginative and well-rounded individuals.”

Mark Malley, chief executive of Bellevue, said the firm “believes that parental choice in education is hugely important and we are looking forward to providing families in Camden with this new, innovative school”.

NCH and Bellevue Education Group expect to hear from the DfE in May 2013 as to whether the application has been successful, and hope to open the school in 2014.

It would become the latest state school to have ownership involvement from profit-making companies.

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