Top marks for new Durham Free School

Top marks for new Durham Free School

9th October 2013


STUDENTS have given Durham’s newest secondary school top marks a month after starting.

Year 7 pupils at The Durham Free School say they are glad they took the step to join and become its first cohort of children.

The Free School opened in the former Gilesgate Sports College building, in Bradford Crescent, last month with just one year group. It will grow gradually as each new Year 7 starts.

Sam Midgley-Cairns, 11, of Kelloe, said: “I thought it would be a good school but it’s even better than I expected. There were 192 children joining another school I looked at, but here there are just 30. I thought I’d get more support at the Free School, and I do.”

Owen Mahaffey, 11, of Spennymoor, added: “At the comprehensive I could have gone to there are 1,500 kids. It must be really crowded.”

Shane Robertson, 11, of Park Hill, said: “It’s really good starting off with only a few pupils. Our names are going down in the history of this school and I think the younger children who come after us will look up to us.”

In addition to an open evening at 6.30pm on Thursday, October 17, the Free School is holding open days throughout October when any prospective parents and pupils can make an appointment to visit at any time during the school day.

The Free School opened after a three-year campaign by parents, educationalists and supporters, primarily to serve children to the south east of Durham city.

Pupils come Bowburn, Coxhoe, Kelloe, Parkhill, Spennymoor, Shincliffe and nearby villages by free bus. They are split into two classes and are taught by three full-time teachers as well as six additional part-time specialist subject teachers.

Kitty Tilder, 12, of Spennnymoor, said: “We have some really, really good teachers who make our lessons really interesting.”

Brianna Tweddall, 11, who travels the furthest from her home in Kirk Merrington, said: “It’s a long day for me, but I like most things about the school.”

“It’s been exciting. We do lots of different subjects and activities after school,” said Elijah Delaponosta, 11, of Sedgefield.

An extra hour at the end of each allows every pupil to pursue talents and interests.

Evan Wright, 11, of Bowburn, explained: “When I was thinking about coming here I didn’t think the extra hour was a good idea, but now I think it’s great. I play football on Mondays, Scrabble on Tuesdays, on Wednesday it’s our choir Young Voices, on Thursday it’s young engineers and on Friday I do archery.”

Other choices include trampolining, tennis, film club, netball and homework club.
Evan added: “If you are shy and are put off by thinking the corridors will be crowded this is a really good place. We have loads of sports facilities and the layout is good.”

The Durham Free School is included in the coordinated admissions scheme run by Durham County Council for 2014 entry. Families must complete the Common Application Form provided by the Local Authority to express their preference, as well as applying to the Free School itself at

News in October