School dog ‘Fern’ joined Holy Trinity School and Sixth Form Centre at the start of this academic year at the tender age of 3-months. Over the last 4-months she has been acclimatising to her new environment and getting to know her new friends, and although still only a puppy her natural ability to interact with children from 5-years to sixth formers has meant that she has very quickly adapted to being in school and loving the attention she receives.
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A large part of performing well at interview is having the right people with you. It is essential that your panel represents a range of expertise covering the key areas of the application, particularly finance, governance, and education.
NSN’s figures, based on an FOI request, have shown that free schools are more likely to be first choice for students than any other school type.
Across the cohort, free schools received an average of 1.13 first preferences for each place available for the academic year 2018-19. This is despite having more available places per school than the national average.
Take a look at our latest video, which provides an introduction to free schools and the work of New Schools Network.
The motion was presented by Greg Hands, the Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham. It was great to see the successes of the free school policy highlighted early on, with the MP stating “only 68% of state-funded schools were good or outstanding in 2010, that jumped to 89% at the end of August 2017.” He pointed out that high performing schools in Kensington and Chelsea demonstrated the benefits that free schools and academies bring to the system, but also acknowledged where the policy has faced difficulty, such as problems around finding a suitable site.
The Swanage School is a shining example of a school that has thrived against the odds. The remote, rural location of Swanage, at the end of the Purbeck peninsular, presents challenges around teacher recruitment and retention. Moreover, the school’s cohort has relatively high levels of deprivation compared with the rest of Dorset. Nevertheless, the school has managed to fill a crucial gap in secondary provision in Swanage, preventing long and difficult travel for pupils to the closest secondary schools in Wareham – 10 miles away.
Before the Spotlight visit, I was adamant I should focus on one area of the packed agenda for this piece, really concentrating on the detail and what other free schools could learn. Upon arrival, it became clear I had been naïve. In the first five minutes, Trust CEO and former Headteacher Nic Brindle explained how year 11 students had built a timber-framed extension on the side of the classroom we’d be using to house design and technology equipment.
The rising demand for school places is on the agenda of all leaders in education. The official estimates from the DfE suggest the school age population will rise by 650,000 to more than 8 million by 2026.
Free schools have been integral in helping meet this rising demand, having created more than 400,000 new school places since 2011. This challenge is also a high priority for the Education Secretary, who recently committed £7 billion of investment for the next decade, and has made assurances that free schools will be central to this.