(Picture: Teri Pengilley)

Finding suitable premises is often one of the most difficult tasks facing any group wanting to open one of the Government's new free schools.

The Sir Isaac Newton sixth-form college in Norwich, one of Education Secretary Michael Gove's latest flagship free schools, has had to set up shop in a disused fire station.

Dame Rachel de Souza, the chief executive of the Inspiration Trust which runs the school and six others in Norfolk, spotted the premises on the way home from an evening out and thought it would be an ideal place for a school.

"We started with the idea that a science school was something that Norfolk really needed," explained Dame Rachel.

"Most children were being taught in schools with little sixth-forms possibly in a class of just three doing the subject. Performance [in science] was below average across the county," she added.

The college is already oversubscribed for its second intake of pupils in September with 280 applications for 200 places.

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