Sep 6 2012 by Rohit Chavda, Harrow Observer
THE borough’s first free school has opened in Harrow to meet demand for places.
Avanti House, for boys and girls aged four to 18, has become the largest free school in the country, receiving more government funding than any other nationwide, after opening yesterday (Wednesday).
The school is based temporarily at Harrow Teachers Centre, in Tudor Road, Harrow, for this academic year, however the school has submitted a proposal to make it a permanent home.
Run by the Avanti Schools Trust, the parent body that started Krishna-Avanti Primary School in Edgware, which is the UK’s first state-funded Hindu faith school, Avanti House is open to students of any faith and from any borough.
Headteacher Gareth Jones, 60, said: “The response from the Harrow public has been very positive and we had more than 200 applications for the 60 reception spaces.
“We have had many enquiries about entry in September 2013 and look forward to meeting parents at our open evening on September 25.
“Some local residents have understandably been concerned about increased traffic in the area, but when I met with them at public meetings they were at pains to point out they were not against a new school in principle.”
If approved, building work could start at the school in September next year with an expected completion date of January 2015.
Mr Jones added: “We shall have to wait until November for the council to give the go-ahead, but we are confident that by then our new school will be thriving and that parental applications for September 2013 will be sufficient in number to convince the council of the school’s viability.”
The main teachings of the school are based on the Hindu saint Krishna Chaitanya, which emphasises ethics, philosophy, Sanskrit as well as yoga and meditation, while the school only serves vegetarian meals.
Chief executive of Avanti Schools Trust, Nitesh Gor, said: “There has been a huge amount of work that has gone into developing this project, led by our headteacher Gareth Jones, and we are delighted we will now be able to welcome the students on their journey of self-discovery.”
The school will have 180 pupils beginning this year, but those behind the proposals are confident it can accommodate 1,680 pupils by September 2018.