A new free school in Bedford has been praised by a government minister during a recent visit.
Lord Hill, parliamentary under-secretary of state for schools, took a tour of the Bedford Free School in Cauldwell Street and met parents and children.
The school is due to open in September and will initially take 100 pupils. It is proposing to have a longer school day and will be for children aged 11-16.
Lord Hill said: “I’ve met with the principal Mark Lehain again, and I’ve heard his plans.
“I like that they want to have a longer school day and a wide curriculum.
“One of the things I like about the free schools is that they are all different, and reflect the particular values and circumstances of the local area.
“There are schools that want to concentrate on being academic, schools that want to concentrate on being more vocational, and even one school in Norwich that wants to open 51 weeks a year.
“Bedford Free School will have a longer school day, which will be good for some parents and will mean more teaching hours for students.”
A Free School can be set up by any suitable proposer, where there is evidence of parental demand such as a petition or declaration from interested parents.
Groups that can set up a school include teachers, charities, academy sponsors, universities, independent schools, community and faith groups, parents and businesses (on a not-for-profit basis).
Cashal Morey, 13, who is due to attend the new school, said: “I feel it will be a good school. It’s quite small, so there’s a better concentration on the teacher-pupil relationship. I go to a small middle school, so this will be brilliant for me.”