Durand Academy takes first inner-city boarders

Existing school building on Durand Academy's site for boarding school Image copyright Other
Image caption The 20-acre site was formerly used by the 100-pupil St Cuthman's School

The first pupils from inner-city London have finally begun boarding at a school in West Sussex described as England's first free state boarding school.

The 13 to 14-year-old pupils from Stockwell are spending three nights a week at the Durand Academy in Stedham.

It follows years of delays and planning disagreements over the former St Cuthman's school site.

The academy is hoping to win a planning appeal next year to create space for two older year groups.

It applied to convert Grade II-listed buildings into a 375-pupil school, but permission was denied last year.

The Durand Trust, which runs a primary school in Stockwell, purchased the Victorian mansion in 2010.

'Spacious and calm'

The 44 students who are currently there are travelling to and from south London by coach.

One of them, 13-year-old Destiny, said: "Stockwell is so cramped, and when you get here it's spacious and calm.

"There's no streets with buses and traffic. The concentration in the boarding school is 100%."

Head of boarding Hakim Taylor described the academy as being about "providing good quality education freely for a part of society who are sometimes looked upon as the have-nots".

"If it's allowed to develop we'll see the children doing really well.

"They're in an environment where they can learn and I think ordinary state schools, when you have 1,000-odd pupils in one school, [it] is difficult to learn.

"I'm sure they will achieve a different potential," he said.

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