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Free Schools in the media
The Secretary of State for Education has decided that Dixons’ application to establish a free school in Manchester should proceed to the ‘pre-opening’ phase. This is a significant step towards opening the school.
“We are delighted that our free school in Manchester will proceed to the pre-opening phase. We already run six highly successful free schools, achieving some of the best results in the country. We now want to bring the same success to Manchester.
Free schools are the highest performing type of state school at GCSE and A level, as well as being more likely to be rated Outstanding by Ofsted. NSN has supported several of these groups throughout the application process, and will continue to do so during the pre-opening phase.
Unity Howard, Director of New Schools Network, said:
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:
A school is the heart of a local community, beating with hope and aspiration for all pupils that attend. During pre-opening it is easy for free school leaders to lose sight of this and get caught up in the operational elements of their school, such as staff recruitment, marketing and policy development.
NSN held discussions with many schools, and used a survey, to gain insight on how results may be awarded most fairly and accurately in the absence of formal assessment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, countless different suggestions and concerns were raised; we have viewed these collectively to find common themes and provide constructive suggestions to Ofqual and the Department for Education.
It should be noted that the consultation response is NSN’s own and does not represent free schools as a cohort.
From our discussions, we have found four key areas that must be addressed:
Academy trust collaboration
During the pandemic we have seen examples of academy trusts collaboratively supporting the needs of pupils and families in their schools and in the community; Academies Enterprise Trust released free animated videos to help pupils transitioning into secondary school.
"The term ‘unprecedented year’ has been bandied around throughout 2020, so much so that it has lost meaning – but it really is true. The challenges schools have faced and tackled head on throughout the year, and particularly this term have been significant.
"This country owes a huge amount of gratitude to teachers, leaders, governors, support staff and others for all that they have done, as schools have done everything they can to keep children safe and learning. They have gone above and beyond, proving once again their role as a pillar of society and community.