Proposers explain in their own words why they have put forward a proposal to set up a Free School.
Mark Lehain is the lead proposer for the Bedford and Kempston Free School. He has previously been head of mathematics and assistant headteacher at schools in the Bedford and Kempston areas.
The Bedford and Kempston Free School proposal aims to establish a school with a rigorous approach to standards as an alternative to the existing three-tier provision in Bedford borough. The proposal is for a small secondary school with no more than 100 students in each year group, offering personalised learning, strong pastoral support, and daily sessions of games and extended learning. The proposal envisages a flexible, subject-based curriculum with a particular focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with the objective of ensuring that every child achieves C grades or better in English and mathematics at GCSE.
Mark Lehain said:
We believe every child, regardless of their background, should be able to get a really good set of exam results by the time they are 16. We feel the only way you can do that is to give parents more choice in the kind of schools their kids have and we think for a lot of kids, ours is the type of school their parents will want for them.
Patricia Sowter, lead proposer for Woodpecker Hall Free School, is the principal of Cuckoo Hall – an outstanding academy – and a National Leader in Education. In this film she talks about the shortage of primary places in her area (Edmonton, Enfield) and how US charter schools inspired her to set up a Free School.
Our overarching ethos of opening this new school is to narrow the gaps for those children that are poorer and we know fall behind from a very early age, making a difference to those children in communities where it’s most needed.
Brigid Tullie is the headteacher of Batley Grammar School (an existing fee-paying independent school in Batley, West Yorkshire) and has more than 25 years experience in both the independent and maintained sector. She is also an inspector for the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). Brigid is leading on the proposal for Batley Grammar to rejoin the state sector as a Free School, to meet local demand and benefit the community as a whole.
The proposal seeks to maintain the school's traditional ethos, values and quality of education, but extend them to children and young people in the local community.
If you look at a typical Batley Grammar School pupil, regardless of their ability they come out having made the most of the opportunities – having learnt self discipline, self respect, self confidence and able to be prepared to not just cope with the world beyond school but to be able to make something of their career and pathway in the future.
Andrew Snowdon is part of an education group who have put forward a proposal for Discovery New School, a Montessori primary school in Crawley, West Sussex. The proposal aims to deliver and advance education using Montessori and other educational methods as well as to enhance the development and education of children and young people by offering appropriate play, education and activities.
It's important that they are trying to achieve and meet their aspirations and we are raising their aspirations so they know what they can achieve. So, if we raise that sense, that aspirational sense, that we can do this, we can do anything, I think that’s one of the greatest gifts that a school can give to children and that's what we're there to do.
Sally Eaton, the lead proposer and Director of The Childcare Company, is a teacher and trained nursery Ofsted Inspector who has been running schools and nurseries for 30 years.
The Childcare Company, an Education Group currently providing online training for Nursery Practitioners, has proposed a school for 5-11 year olds with an attached day nursery for 0-4s, in Langley, Slough.
Langley Hall Primary Academy aims to be a primary school which is a model of excellence that improves pupil results by providing a good basic understanding of literacy and numeracy, developing individual talents and following the 'Whole Education' philosophy, seeking to develop practical skills and theoretical knowledge.
Sally Eaton said:
Where children are motivated and have high self esteem and are excited about learning they learn best, so we want within our school to put that at the very foundation of everything we do and to encourage children to be challenged, to challenge themselves and for us to challenge them and for us to employ high calibre staff who really believe passionately in the same vision and really want that for the children that they’re going to be teaching.
Richard Ewen and James Woods are the lead proposers for Rivendale Free School, a proposed primary school in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The school aims to provide a rich education for its pupils through the promotion of good pupil self-discipline; strong teaching and learning practices; the encouragement of health and social well-being; a positive attitude and school ethos and significant and frequent school-parent relations.
Richard Ewen is a former headteacher of the Islington Arts and Media School in London and was the executive headteacher of Progress Park, a specialist programme for highly challenging children in Islington. James Woods is the Managing Director of Schools Plus Ltd, a national company that transforms community use of secondary schools.
Literacy, creativity and parental involvement are vital to success of the school. They are not unique selling points - they’re things that every school holds dear. But if we can establish good standards of literacy amongst our pupils, then we’ll open the door to secondary education and higher education to them and to full life opportunities.
Penny Roberts is a former teacher and educational psychologist who is leading the proposal for St Luke's Primary School.
The proposed St Luke’s Church of England Primary School will be based in Camden, London – an area where there is a shortage of primary school places. The school would have a strong Christian ethos, with a commitment to ensuring it provides for all children in the local community regardless of their background, ability or additional learning needs.
I’ve been through the process of applying for primary school places for my own children and I know the anguish that parents go through when there just are not enough primary school places, so for us it’s just a wonderful way to meet a community need.
Keith Haisman is the lead proposer for Stour Valley Community School, which aims to provide a secure, stimulating and inclusive centre of academic excellence at which pupils from all backgrounds and faiths in the community are equally valued. The Free School proposal is for an 11-to-16 school on the site of Clare Middle School, which is due to close under Suffolk’s reorganisation scheme in July 2011.
This proposal is led by a group of community leaders who want a good local school for their rural community that is run along traditional lines with a teacher-led culture and a ‘human scale’ of operation. The group envisages a school in which teachers know each pupil’s name and needs, with a bespoke curriculum for the community’s stated aspirations that features English, maths and science, and a strong commitment to modern languages, humanities and sports.
Success will be those children coming out during that first year and emerging as ambassadors in the community to other children, because they’ll be talking about the buzz that they get from going to their local community school.
Tania Sidney-Roberts is the lead proposer for the Free School Norwich, a new primary school looking to offer a high quality, broad and balanced education. A key aspect of the proposal is the provision of on-site, affordable, all-year-round extended school provision – this is in direct response to demand for such provision by local working parents.
The school would make use of good links with local businesses and other organisations with the facilities and expertise to help deliver sport and physical education, art, drama and other cultural experiences to ensure an enriched educational experience.
We want to achieve an environment where parents will be able to go out to work because we will provide the wrap-around care at the school, in an environment which is familiar to the children. Apart from that, we want to provide a very rich and varied curriculum. We fully appreciate the importance of high standards in literacy and numeracy and we’ll be aiming for very, very high results in those areas, but we wish to provide a truly broad curriculum as well.