NSN Blog: free school voice

On: Wed 23 March 2022

To showcase the excellent work of free school leaders across the country, NSN has conducted a series of interviews with leaders of recently opened free schools to hear how they’ve implemented their vision and confronted the challenges of opening a new school.

We recently spoke to Andrew Taylor, Headteacher of St. Gabriel’s CofE Academy, who kindly shared with us his experience of opening a primary school in Warwickshire in 2018.

Could you tell us about the original idea behind your school?

On: Tue 22 March 2022

To showcase the excellent work of free school leaders across the country, NSN has conducted a series of interviews with leaders of recently opened free schools to hear how they’ve implemented their vision and confronted the challenges of opening a new school.

Recently we spoke to Jonathan Wilden, CEO of Folio Education Trust, who kindly shared with us his experience opening and growing Coombe Wood School, and implementing his vision of a school where health and fitness takes centre stage.

On: Fri 4 March 2022

To showcase the excellent work of free school leaders across the country, NSN has conducted a series of interviews with leaders of recently opened free schools to hear how they’ve implemented their vision and confronted the challenges of opening a new school.

We recently spoke to Mel Shute, Headteacher of Trumpington Park Primary School, a primary school in Cambridgeshire that opened in 2017 as a part of Cambridge Primary Education Trust.

 Tell us about the original idea behind your school.

On: Mon 28 February 2022

Tell us about the original idea behind the school?

“The school came from Redbridge local authority’s SEND review, which identified a need for a school for young children with complex needs. They predicted that there would be a growing trend in the borough. The rationale for the school was early assessment and early intervention, so that children could receive support as early as possible. The idea was that children would come here until Year 2, and then we would try to support them longer term as they transition out of the school.

On: Mon 21 February 2022

What was the original idea behind the schools?

“To meet basic need in the area. The first academy in the trust, Wildern School, is a large 11-16 school that was oversubscribed every year. A lot of new building work was going on in the area, and it became clear that more school places would be needed.

On: Fri 4 February 2022

What inspired you to lead a new free school?

“The excitement of it. Often when joining as a head you have to undo lots of different things. But in a free school, everything is new so you can form the school that you want. In the beginning, the ethos and culture of the school is down to you, which is really exciting. I also knew how much the school was needed.”

What is the culture of your school?

On: Fri 4 February 2022

Can you tell us about the original idea behind ACE Tiverton School?

“I was appointed after the free school application had been completed. But essentially the purpose for us existing was to meet the need in Devon to support students with SEN, particularly with significant housing expansion going on. We are one of three new schools, planned and developed over the past 3 years.”

What is unique about the school?

On: Thu 27 January 2022

Tell us about the original idea behind your school?

“I was not involved in the original idea for the school, but it came about because Saracens rugby club, who were a nomadic rugby club that played all over the place, wanted a home. Barnet gave them a permanent home and someone within the organisation thought it would be good to establish a legacy for the club, so they looked to establish a school. Barnet needed a school in an area of real deprivation, so this was an exciting opportunity to build a legacy and make a real impact.”