Paul’s fame academy LIPA hopes to use the arts to inspire young children after confirming it will open a new Liverpool-based “free school”.
The ECHO can reveal that the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) is set to open the new city-base for primary school children as early as September next year after winning initial government approval.
Funded by central government, free schools are can be set up by groups such as charities, parents and businesses with more than 80 now up and running nationwide.
And in partnership with Ormskirk’s Edge Hill University, the free school will aim to utilise the renowned performing arts prowess of LIPA, which was founded in 1996 by lead patron Paul and principal Mark Featherstone-Witty.
The school was among more than 100 new free schools, including 11 in the North West, given government approval today.
Although at an early stage with the search for a site now under way, the LIPA free school intends to use the creative arts to boost and bring to life literacy and numeracy for children.
The ECHO understands one possible base is its Hope Street site.
Expected provision includes sending younger pupils to visit Tate Liverpool so its artwork can stimulate creative writing and older pupils will work with the Everyman Theatre and use their ticket sales data as a real life maths resource.
The development comes months after LIPA opened another Saturday school for four to 19 year-olds based in South Wirral High School in Eastham.
It has also run a successful Saturday LIPA 4:19 academy which has been based within Maghull High School since 2008.
And in March last year the ECHO revealed how LIPA had struck a £3.7m deal to buy 68 Hope Street, the Grade II-listed former art college building next door which famously houses the lecture hall where Lennon met his first wife, Cynthia.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said: “There are many innovators in local communities set on raising standards of education for their children. I am delighted to approve so many of their high-quality plans to open a free school.
“Free schools are extremely popular with parents and are delivering strong discipline and teaching excellence across the country.”
About free schools
Free schools are state-funded schools independent of local authority control.
They can set the length of the school day and term, the curriculum, teachers’ pay and conditions and how they spend their money, but are not allowed to be selective.
The government has championed them stating “they are run by teachers – not local or central government bureaucrats”.
The government has also made it easier for the free schools to open due to new planning laws, which from May allow the schools to open in buildings for up to a year without the need to secure planning permission to change their use.
But unions argue they cream off money from local authority schools, have been set up in areas where surplus places are already too high and do not have to employ qualified teachers.
Free schools already open in Merseyside include the Everton Free School opened by Blues’ charity Everton in the Community for 14 to 19-year-olds who found mainstream school was not for them, and The Hawthorne’s which replaced St Wilfrid’s High in Litherland and Bootle’s St George of England High.