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Games industry's founding father hands in Hammersmith free school application

The Government's creative industries champion, Ian Livingstone, is hoping to open a games-based learning school in Hammersmith in 2016

Gaming godfather Ian Livingstone is hoping to open a free school with games-based learning in Hammersmith

One of the founding fathers of the computer gaming industry handed in an application today to open a free school based on computer games skills.

Ian Livingstone is hoping to open The Livingstone School in Hammersmith in September 2016 which will be based on the multitude of IT skills children growing up today grasp from a young age.

The 64-year-old was hoping to open the secondary school next year but needed more time to make sure his application to the Department for Education, who decide whether it goes ahead or not, was perfect.

Mr Livingstone founded Games Workshop, which had its first store in Hammersmith, co-created Fighting Fantasy, a series of roleplay gamesbooks, and was also life president of Eidos, the publisher of Tomb Raider, which is why he calls himself Lara Croft’s ‘father’.

Vince Cable also appointed him as the Government’s Creative Industries Champion in July.

He feels passionately about using games based learning which he explains as using the problem-solving, team work and communication skills used in computer games and is adamant pupils will not learn by rote to boost exam results but will learn skills which translate into the real world to help them get good jobs.

Science, technology, engineering, art and maths will be key to the curriculum.

He said: “We wanted to get the application just right and I’m very proud of what we’re aiming to do. Lots of people are on board and really like the vision.

“I think it’s really important for children to be prepared for the world of work and we will be preparing pupils for jobs which don’t even exist now. It’s so integral they learn how to make programmes, not just use them.

“I’ve been campaigning for a while to get coding put on the national curriculum and Michael Gove has done this now which is great.

“I want to be clear that children will not be playing computer games instead of learning English and maths, they will just be using the skills gained from gaming to learn.

“When you play a game you’re solving a puzzle, using your initiative, working your hand-eye co-ordination and working in a team - all skills needed in life.”

Ian Livingstone (r) and Steve Jackson in the first ever Games Workshop in Dalling Road, Hammersmith, 1976, near where the school will hopefully be set up

He added that he is grateful to have former Harrow headmaster, Barnaby Lenon, on board, as well as Marion Gibbs, headmistress of top Dulwich girls school, JAGS, who have helped him with the practical side of setting up a school.

The Department for Education will consider the application and hopefully ask Mr Livingstone in for a meeting next month. To register your interest and find out more go to thelivingstoneschoolhammersmith.com

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