Stedham school to house socially-disadvantaged children

Ground-breaking £17.3m plans to reopen the former St Cuthman’s School at Stedham as a unique boarding school for socially-disadvantaged children from South London are going ahead.

The first children are set to arrive in Stedham from the Durand Academy in 2014 after Michael Gove, the education secretary, gave the green light for the UK’s first fully free-state run boarding school on Tuesday (June 7).

It is thought to be the first time a state primary school has ever bought its own boarding school to educate its children.

The government has committed up to £17.34m phased over four years to contribute towards the capital costs of developing the Stedham site, with additional funding from the school’s foundation.

Under the plan, children will leave Durand Primary School, in Lambeth, aged 13, and board for four nights a week, free of charge, at St Cuthman’s.

Almost half of the children who attend Durand Academy receive free school meals and more than 95 per cent are from black or minority ethnic backgrounds.

Some 40 per cent live in over crowded households.

Greg Martin, executive head of Durand which became the first primary school academy in the country in September last year said: “This project will transform life opportunities for children and families from Stockwell’s estates.”

The new Academy provides all-through education for children from three to 18.

The early years section for three to seven year olds has already been opened on a redeveloped site in London.

Mr Martin told the Observer: “We are delighted to say that the government has agreed to work with us to restore St Cuthman’s to its former glory and give children fantastic opportunities in education in these wonderful surroundings.”

He said the school would be working closely with the planning authorities and members of the surrounding communities as plans for the new school were progressed.