Forthcoming Free School’s extended term allows pupils to holiday in academic year

Executive principal of the Jupiter Community Free School Dr Sue Attard
Executive principal of the Jupiter Community Free School Dr Sue Attard

Parents have been delighted to hear of the astronomical benefits on offer to prospective pupils of the Jupiter Community Free School.

At last night’s introductory meeting to the forthcoming school – not yet built on the former Jupiter Drive Primary site – executive principal Dr Sue Attard gave an insight into the new facility which will admit its first intake of 60 students this September.

As well as compulsory Spanish lessons from reception age and home visits from teachers offered before children start at the school, the institution will cater to working parents by running an 8am to 6pm day including breakfast and after-school clubs.

But perhaps most attractive for mums and dads is the school’s introduction of an extended 42-week year, allowing parents to take their children on holiday for two weeks of term time without reducing the amount of time they spend on teaching and learning.

The final two weeks of the year will still have an educational focus but will be more relaxed.

As part of the West Herts Community Free School Trust, Dr Attard will split her time between Jupiter and a similar school in Hatfield, itself set up just two years ago.

Speaking to prospective parents at the meeting, held in Grovehill Community Centre, she said: “We know that coming to Hemel Hempstead to build a school like this will be positive for the local area. We are coming to be a friend to other schools and the community.”

Jupiter will not reach its full capacity of 420 students until 2020. The first pupils accepted following Herts County Council’s allocations process will be taught at a temporary base in Grovehill’s Astley Cooper School until the new site is ready in Easter 2015.

> A number of parents at the meeting expressed concerns they had not yet had formal notification of their child’s school allocation from Herts County Council.

A spokesman for the school admissions team said: “Every child allocated a place at Jupiter Free School was sent a letter by first class post on Wednesday 16 April. However it appears that a small number may have been delayed, perhaps due to the long Easter weekend. We have been in touch with the West Herts Free School Trust to identify which letters have not arrived and we will email and/or post out duplicates tomorrow.”

Parents can still apply for a school place through a series of ‘continuing interest’ processes, which includes the new free school.Click here for more information.