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.
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During the first lockdown the vast majority of four year olds were kept at home and “managed” while parents and carers worked, leading to a substantial disparity in how children spent their time. While some children read books with parents and experienced enrichment activities outdoors, the development gap between disadvantaged children and their peers widened. A wide range of factors caused the gap to grow: access to basic resources and technology, parents’ attitudes and knowledge of early development, flexibility of parent employers and sibling presence.
This week the Oracy All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) released its report Speak for Change, highlighting nearly two thirds of primary and nearly half of secondary teachers say school closures have had a negative effect on the language development of pupils eligible for free school meals. Findings like these have huge implications for social mobility.
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:
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.
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).