It was September 2016 and I still remember walking up to the busy reception of a hotel in York. There were lots of lanyards lined up neatly, my name said “proposed director”; it was the SPTA (School Partnership Trust) kick off event, featuring the new CEO’s speech highlighting the strategy for the trust and many other guest speakers.
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Putting together a free school application is no easy task – as I well know – and all this work is done with no guarantee of success. The prize, however, is significant, as the impact of these new schools is already showing. It is also why more groups wanting to change education for the better should keep coming forward.
Sigrun Olafsdottir, Chief Operating Officer, said:
"The application process to set up a free school is extremely rigorous and time consuming, so all groups can be proud of their hard work to reach this stage. This is particularly true in this round of free school applications, which explicitly targets areas of greatest need.
But the truth is that it can also be a nerve-wracking time for all involved. The prospect of not getting into the preferred school, of missing out on what could be the only high-performing institution in the area, is a chilling thought for parents and students alike.
Free Schools in the media
Cumbria Academy for Autism (CAA) have appointed Richard Aindow as headteacher. He is currently deputy headteacher at Presfield High School and Specialist College in Southport, which caters for children with autism. In a statement on the CAA's website, Lynne Thornton, chair of the board of governors, said: ‘The opportunity to lead our school attracted an excellent field of candidates all of whom recognised Cumbria Academy for Autism as an exciting opportunity to transform autism education in the West Cumbria.’
Effective from the first of November, Sigrun Olafsdottir will take on the day-to-day running of NSN as Chief Operating Officer. Unity Howard will also take up a new role as Head of Advisory Services. The Trustees will soon be launching the recruitment process for a permanent Director.
Free Schools in the media
More than 500 people gathered for the opening of the Atam Academy’s new building. The ceremony included the arrival of the Sikh holy scriptures, known as the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj, which were carried into the school’s spiritual hall. Worshippers also congregated in the hall for the recitation of the prayer known as the Sri Sukhmani Sahib Path and hymns known as Kirtan. The design of the new school building takes inspiration from the Golden Temple in India.
This is the second year running that free schools have topped the tables, having been the strongest performer last year with an average score of 0.15.
Number of schools
Number of pupils at end of Key Stage 4