Livingstone Academy Bournemouth
Setting up a free school
Before you embark on this journey, consider the unique challenges that opening a free school brings and address these issues in your marketing strategy. Common risks to think about are:
Planning to recruit
Opening a new school brings exciting opportunities, as well as unique challenges. For free schools in pre-opening, recruiting high calibre staff is essential for the successful opening and delivery of your new school. The team you have during your first year will help to put your school on track to an Outstanding Ofsted rating.
You could consider:
When a pupil entered our beautiful new atrium for the very first time and declared, “this feels just like a hotel”, I knew that after almost ten years in temporary accommodation we had finally achieved our goal to develop a truly exceptional, permanent building for Cobham Free School (CFS).
As a staff member at New Schools Network (NSN) with a career history in the world of special educational needs, I’m all too aware of the current crisis that’s facing some of our most vulnerable children. Starting as a teaching assistant in a special needs school, working closely with teachers, parents and carers on the frontline of the SEND sector, I later worked with a charity providing SEND law support before joining NSN - working with special free schools.
Although opening a free school in the midst of a global pandemic is undoubtedly challenging, pre-opening activities remain deliverable. Furthermore, there’s no need to increase your workload. NSN can say this from experience, having supported Section 10 consultations through the Delivery Programme.
Here are some of reflections on what you need to do to effectively deliver a Section 10 consultation during lockdown:
The first 100 days within an open school is a hectic and intense period for Principle Designates, but a fantastic opportunity to showcase the vision and embed the culture of a new school.
Sir David Carter offered advice to principle designates for their first 100 days after opening:
Being a leader – Instilling the vision
Every team needs a leader; for schools in pre-opening that’s the job of the Principal Designate.
As a leader, it’s essential to have a clear vision for your school that will help bring people together. By keeping the school’s aims at the heart of all stages of the process, from pre-opening until fully operational, the schools mission will not be forgotten. For a team to have clear sense of direction, it’s necessary that the Principle Designate models the culture they want instilled within their team.
Key periods of your site journey
The free school journey is about encountering milestones on a continuing road; not the final destination of the project. This was the underlying theme from Ron Rampling, the Project Director at Free Schools Capital, as he spoke to us about the key periods that Principal Designates should consider for their school building. He identified them as: