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Consultant appointed to lead Oxford’s first free school
AN educational consultant has been appointed to lead Oxford’s first free school.
Liz Russo, 39, will take up the post as headteacher at Tyndale Community School in Oxford in early 2013.
The school, run by Chapel Street Community Schools Trust in partnership with Oxfordshire Community Churches, is due to open in September 2013 with 60 reception stage children.
Organisers are currently consulting on plans to use the former Lord Nuffield Club, in Barracks Lane, as the school base.
Miss Russo said she was “thrilled and excited” to be appointed.
She said: “I actually worked on the team to design the educational vision and plan so this is a project that is close to my heart. I was very excited by the prospect of being able to bring together excellent practice that I have seen across many schools.”
Up to 30 per cent of children will be admitted on the basis of faith, while the remaining places will be open to all children.
Miss Russo said: “We want Tyndale to be a place where everyone who walks in experiences hospitality, warmth, service to others, acceptance, encouragement and relationships which are expressions of our Christian ethos.”
She said she aspired for the school to be outstanding in terms of teaching and learning, and children to learn core skills with a chance to apply those in real life situations.
The curriculum will focus on developing strong literacy and maths skills through project based learning, while enterprise learning and “financial literacy” will underpin all lessons.
Miss Russo, who has directed her own educational consultancy for the past four years and is an associate with the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at the Institute of Education, said the team had looked carefully at educational challenges facing the city.
The high proportion of children speaking English as an additional language was one of the challenges she highlighted, which she said the school intended to tackle by using one-to-one tutors.
Miss Russo, who was born in America and taught in Chicago before moving to England in 2001 to study for a master’s in theatre education, is the first member of staff to be appointed.
Over the next few months, she will be directly involved in recruiting two reception teachers and two teaching assistants plus administrative staff.
All classroom teachers will have qualified teacher status.
Chapel Street chief executive Russell Rook said: “We are committed to engaging the best and brightest educators to work in our new school community.
“Liz is an inspired choice as she brings a passion for education and a wealth of local and international experience in the United States, Kenya and Columbia.”
Tyndale Community School will be the first new school to open in the city, excluding academy conversions, since Windale Primary School, Blackbird Leys, in 1995.
The school held a public meeting at Oxford Spires Academy on Friday. Miss Russo will answer questions at the final consultation meeting on Thursday, December 6, starting at 7.30pm, also at Spires.
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