A TEACHERS’ union has launched a campaign against an “experimental” new school saying it would offer a poor quality of education to pupils.

Durham’s National Union of Teachers (NUT) is opposed to the planned Independent Grammar School: Durham, in the newly-renovated Christchurch in Claypath.

Proponents of the school, which is awaiting approval from the Department for Education, claim it would offer a “low-cost” alternative to private education, costing £52 per week.

But campaigners say its so-called “no-frills” model would burden parents with a large bill for less than local state schools provide.

And they argue the likely use of inexperienced and unqualified teachers and support staff, combined with a “narrow and prescriptive off-the-shelf curriculum”, would make it poor value when compared to local state schools.

They are also highlighting the proposed profit-making status of the school as a dangerous development.

Durham NUT secretary Joe Bann said, for £52 per week children would get less than they would at a state primary in Durham, where music, art, drama and other subjects would be taught by qualified teachers, and school trips and extra-curricular activities would also be offered.

He said: “Parents should be under no illusion that this experimental school would offer their children a better chance of success than local state schools.

“It is totally unrealistic to think that a good standard of education could be provided for £52 per child per week. We believe this school would struggle to allow access for children to laboratories, workshops or even decent sports facilities.

“A privatised school is not wanted, nor is it beneficial for the children of Durham. It is one big social experiment with our children.”

Former school principal Chris Gray, who is behind the new venture which is awaiting Department for Education approval, said: “We will never employ unqualified teachers.

“The premises we have are really rather nice and have impressed all the parents who have been around.

“It is a matter of choice and of opinion. I believe the curriculum we are offering will very high quality and what we are offering is proving to be extremely attractive to many parents.”