A proposal to build a new secondary boys' school in Kettering has been given the green light by the Government.
Hanwood Park School for Boys, the first new secondary school in the town in a generation, is set to open from 2024 after it received "substantial" support in a consultation phase.
The free school, which will educate boys aged between 11 and 16, will be at the Hanwood Park development to the east of the town where up to 5,500 new homes will be built.
It is being set up by Southfield School for Girls in response to the demand for a high performing boys' school in Kettering and to ensure that there are a sufficient number of secondary places, as the Northants Telegraph first reported in 2019.
Southfield School headteacher Steph Roberts, who has spearheaded the Hanwood Park School for Boys project team, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been given approval from the Department for Education (DfE) to move forward with Hanwood Park School for Boys to the pre-opening phase.
"This is a tremendously exciting opportunity to carefully construct an exceptional new school for our community following the extensive planning that shaped the proposal.
"We would like to thank parents and representatives from the local community for their support during the consultation phase of the application. We are grateful to the DfE, New Schools Network, Northamptonshire County Council and Kettering Council for their guidance and encouragement throughout the process to date. Our highly experienced and dedicated team are committed to deliver this exceptional school by working constructively with all stakeholders during the pre-opening phase.
"We are tremendously excited about what this school represents, and will provide, through the positive relationships that will be forged between the school, students, parents and the community.”
Hanwood Park School for Boys was one of only 21 applications approved nationally this year and one of only three coming from a single academy trust.
Corby-based Brooke Weston Trust has also been given the go-ahead for a secondary free school in Wisbech and The Northampton Free School Trust has won approval to open secondary Wootton Park School (Hardingstone).
Free schools are newly-established state schools that are independent of local authority control. They have the freedom to decide the length of school day and term, the curriculum, teacher pay and how they spend their budgets.
Those behind Hanwood Park School for Boys say it will provide its students with an inspirational learning environment and a distinctive place to learn and grow with shared values of 'Exploration, Belief and Integrity' underpinning the ethos of the school community.
Their vision is to create and sustain a truly world class school with the highest academic, personal and social standards expected in order to deliver exceptional outcomes for every student.
They say the school will play an active part in the emerging new local community and that Southfield School for Girls will closely align to the school through a variety of reciprocal links. This will include opportunities for collaborative learning and a route to the mixed-gender sixth form at Southfield.
Unity Howard, director of New Schools Network, said: “This is fantastic news for the local community. Free schools have an incredible track record of driving up standards as the highest performing type of state school, and we have seen over the past decade just how popular free schools are with parents.
“The team behind Hanwood Park School for Boys should be proud today. The free school application process is rightly demanding, and I pay tribute to them for their tireless work throughout the application phase.
"I wish them the very best of luck as they begin working towards welcoming children through the doors of their new school in the years to come, and look forward to supporting them as they prepare to open.”
A Southfield spokesman said details and the dates of public meetings for parents and members of the local community, who are interested in finding out more about the proposed school, will be released in due course.