Education Secretary to visit Leicester's first free school
Education Secretary Michael Gove was due to officially open Leicester's first free school today.
Mr Gove pioneered the free school concept and will visit Krishna Avanti, in Spencefield Lane, Evington, to unveil a plaque at the site.
The Hindu free school, which was set up by the Avanti School's Trust in September 2011, takes pupils from all faiths but has a Hindu ethos.
Some £4.5 million was granted by the Department for Education to the trust to buy and develop the school in the grade II-listed building, formerly occupied by Leicester Grammar Juniors.
A contribution of £200,000 was also made by the trust.
Mr Gove said: "Free schools such as Krishna Avanti are helping to raise standards across the country.
"Krishna Avanti provides an inclusive education with a special Hindu ethos that is rightly popular with parents and I'm delighted to have this opportunity to meet the staff and children."
Krishna Avanti was created under the Government's new education agenda where parents, charitable groups and others can bid to set up a school, providing they demonstrate the ability to do so.
Although free schools don't have to follow the national curriculum, Krishna Avanti does.
It is funded via the local education authority in the same way as most schools, but money goes directly to the school and no cash is retained by the city council for central services.
Three free schools in London are also run by the trust.
Leicester East MP Keith Vaz will also be at the site for its official opening.
John Simpson, chairman of the trust, said: "We're pleased Michael Gove and Keith Vaz have accepted to formally open Krishna Avanti.
The trust now has four schools in its family, each of which are committed to providing a distinctive high quality education."
Mr Vaz said: "I'm delighted that despite his busy schedule, Mr Gove is coming here. I want to pay tribute to Krishna Avanti, who worked long and hard to acquire this school, and for the land to remain as an education site. This is a symbol of what makes Leicester so special."
Finishing touches to the school were made at the end of last year. It now has two new classroom blocks added to the building and a worship hall which doubles up as a dining area.
A large plaza has also been created. The grade II-listed building has been repainted throughout and new carpets added.