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Polam Hall School, Darlington wins approval to become a free school

One of the oldest and most highly regarded day and boarding schools in the North East of England will next year become a free – rather than fee-
paying – school, it has been announced.

Polam Hall School in Darlington has been successful in its application to become a state-funded independent day and boarding school, enabling it to share its outstanding offering to all.

The school, which provides first class education for girls and boys aged four to 19, has been given the green light by the Department for Education to become a free school from September 2015.

Free schools are state-funded independent schools and the change means that Polam Hall will be able to offer its highly regarded pastoral care, teaching and confidence-boosting extracurricular activities to all without tuition fees being charged.

However, the school, which has long championed progressive, non-selective education, will remain on its current 19-acre site on Grange Road.

Headmaster John Moreland, said: “Our approval as a free school is fantastic news for us as an organisation and also for the additional young people to whom we can now open our doors.

“We give our learners confidence for life, with our ethos of genuine pastoral support and care, and our exciting curriculum, outstanding drama, music and art, and long tradition for outward-bound and sport. Being able to broaden the reach of our offering will be hugely beneficial to young people in this region as well as those who come to Polam Hall from further afield.”

Chair of governors Sally Pelham, said: “By opening our doors to all, regardless of ability to pay, we are honouring the life-enhancing vision of education set out by our founders. We are deeply committed to giving young people in Darlington a real choice, with our all-through education from four to 19.”

Alasdair MacConachie, chairman of the Darlington Partnership, said: “I am delighted that Polam Hall will open its doors to young people across Darlington and the rest of the region next year. We warmly welcome their partnership.”

Until Polam Hall becomes a free school in September 2015 it will continue to operate as an independent school while also focusing on the crucial pre-opening phase that precedes free school status.

Although the school has experienced a surge in applications for September 2014 on the back of its free school campaign, some places remain available in certain age groups including sixth form and boarding in the 6th form.

All existing Polam Hall pupils in reception and above, including those who start the school this September, will be guaranteed a place when the school becomes a free school in September 2015.

An open day will be held on Friday 27th June for those who would like to see round the school and its excellent facilities and to find out more about its future plans.

Polam Hall was founded by Quakers in the nineteenth century and is the oldest school in continuous existence in Darlington.

It has a proud history of close support for each child, developing resilience and character, promoting creative thinking and community values.

It also has a reputation as a centre of excellence in science and maths, music and the arts and believes this success will be continued as a free school.

Polam Hall has a tradition as a boarding school and will continue to offer 60 boarding places (for which a fee to cover boarding costs will be charged).  It will retain a wide catchment area as a free school, with day pupils coming from all parts of Darlington and the surrounding areas.

The school will also join one of the most impressive school partnerships in the UK, with Darlington having the highest proportion of academies in the country.

To express an interest in Polam Hall or request a brochure, please contact the admissions officer, Mrs Jane Craggs, at information@polamhall.net or visit the website: www.polamhall.com

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