Running a school

Virtual Spotlight: London Academy of Excellence

London Academy of Excellence (LAE), an Ofsted Outstanding 16-19 free school located in Stratford, was established in 2012 to provide a world-class education to disadvantaged students in East London. Last year alone, 33 pupils progressed to Oxford and Cambridge. Since the first cohort of students sat their exams in 2014 more than 1,000 students have progressed to study at Russell Group universities.

Transition arrangements before COVID-19

Virtual Spotlight: Venturers’ Academy

School mission and pedagogy

The school’s Executive Lead, Trystan Williams, spoke to us about the school’s personalised curriculum, tailored approach and use of student and parent/carer feedback to adapt practices. When the school opened in 2016, a Five Year Plan was developed to meet the mission statement of the school: ‘Where Everything’s Possible’. The purpose of this plan has been to provide an ambitious and achievable framework which ensures that all pupils achieved more than they ever thought possible.

Free schools and Ofsted’s education inspection framework – finding the golden thread

Believe it or not, Harmonize Academy, Bedford Free School and Callywith College were inspected on the same day in January 2020, despite their different locations across the country. Whilst their experiences weren’t identical, all agreed that the process had been positive and fair. When they spoke with us a several key themes from the inspection process emerged:

You can’t prepare for Ofsted in a day…

The trailblazers behind the headlines at Pinner High School

Our Trailblazers are completing their GCSEs. We are a school that likes to look forward, and we do so with optimism and excitement. The future is bright. When you like to do things for the first time it becomes infectious and it's the enthusiasm that is catching. When we first opened, our first GCSE results were out there on the horizon, almost as far as the eye could see. They have hurtled into view. No one can quite tell me where the last five years have gone.

Project Management: Pre-opening essentials

Identify the right project manager

Finding the right person to manage your project is essential. Your project manager will act as a critical mediator between the trust and the Department for Education (DfE) and should support and challenge the trust in its decision-making throughout the process. As well as possessing crucial organisational management skills, they will need to be flexible with their capacity and available to make quick decisions.

Virtual Spotlight: The Mendip School

Part of The Bath and Mendip Partnership Trust, The Mendip School is an all-through special school catering for pupils aged 4-19 with a primary diagnosis of autism (ASD) and speech language and communication needs. The school works with a range of external professionals to identify the needs of each child, and adapts support accordingly. In 2018, Ofsted reported that the school’s ‘rich curriculum provides a relevant, interesting learning diet that weaves in therapy and real-life experiences’.

Catch-up funding Spotlight

How they will use the funding

The free schools we spoke to have come up with a variety of uses for the funding: one school is using it to fund two part-time teachers, one with a maths and the other with an English focus, while others intend to use the funding to provide targeted small group tuition over the coming months. School leaders reported to us that the funding they received was often based on census data from last year, meaning it was less than they need.

Schools had catch-up programmes already in place 

Responding to COVID-19: NSN Spotlight visit with Marine Academy Primary

Marine Academy Primary (MAP2) is a school based in Plymouth, one of the more deprived cities in the South-West, with 30% - 12% above the national average – of the school’s pupil classed as disadvantaged and over 110 families on food vouchers since schools shutdown. Enabling underprivileged children to gain the knowledge that they need for success in later life underpinned the school’s decision to follow official guidance and open their doors to certain year groups in early June.