Proposal: new primary Free School in SE1

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Thursday 26 May 2011 7.19am
We are currently applying to set up a new primary school in SE1, and are looking to understand the level of demand for this. This non-selective school is aiming to provide top quality primary education in the borough, and is based on a best in class, proven teaching model, structured around what works in outstanding primaries (model primaries have been selected as those with >85% of children achieving national level in English and maths). We have secured management input from best in class heads, with an executive head already secured from one of London’s outstanding schools. The school is expecting to promote a culture that values learning, aspiration and achievement, and will be offering a broad curriculum with a wide range of sports, arts and music.

We anticipate that the school will be located on Great Dover Street, and will be open September 2012 - we will open with an intake of Reception and year 1.

The school should provide SE1 residents with three key benefits: a) increased choice – an additional, high quality primary offering within the borough’s primary schools portfolio b) increased facility to maintain high standards through planned federation or chain model and c) increased capacity to provide schooling - Southwark is expected to have a shortfall of over 2000 primary places by 2013/14.

If this school is something you'd like to support, please visit www.facebook.com/SouthwarkFreeSchool and register your support. We need to demonstrate strong demand from the community if this is to become a reality, and we would greatly appreciate your help in the matter. If you have any questions or comments, please do go through to the same site, and we will answer your question within 48 hours.

Mita Bhattacharyya
The Planning Team
Southwark Free School

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Thursday 26 May 2011 5.53pm
That was supposed to read Great Dover Street, sorry! I've contacted the administrator to have that corrected. Kind regards,
Friday 27 May 2011 9.29am
bhatgirl wrote:
We are currently applying to set up a new primary school in SE1, and are looking to understand the level of demand for this.
??? You claim yourself that there is/will be a 2,000 pupil shortfall. Why are you bothered about level of demand??

...if you press it, they will come.
Friday 27 May 2011 11.51am
Hi Bhatgirl.

Could you tell us more about your proposed school and the organisation(s) behind it? There doesn't seem to be much detail on the Facebook site. In particular:
a) Will your proposed school have a religious point of view?
b) What, if any, business, not-for-profit or charitable organisations are backing your bid?
c) What the ownership and governance structures of the proposed school are.
d) What you mean by "what works in outstanding London primary schools"?

Otherwise, there's not much to go on in deciding whether to support the proposal, is there? For all we know, you might be proposing a fundamentalist religious school with the backing of the Libyan government and McDonalds. nb I'm sure you're not, but you know what I mean.
Monday 6 June 2011 7.18am
Has Bhatgirl posted any replies to these very clear and important questions?
Monday 6 June 2011 11.20pm
What about languages and outside space - unconnected but important issues.
Monday 17 October 2011 5.40pm
Apologies for the lengthy delay - I've been out of the country for a few months, and am just returning to the fantastic news that our school has been approved. As such, I wanted to respond directly to the queries noted in the forum:

a) Will your proposed school have a religious point of view?
No, it is entirely secular.

b) What, if any, business, not-for-profit or charitable organisations are backing your bid?

We are not backed by any organisation, business, not-for-profit or charitable* in nature. We are a group of social entrepreneurs, who are seeking to address the educational divide by replicating outstanding school formats in lower income communities.

*We had been previously incubated by a charity called The Shaftesbury Partnership (SP), who provide launch infrastructure/advisory services for new social ventures. Given that the venture has been realised through the DfE approval, we are now operationally independent of this group, though Patrick Shine, who heads up SP, will sit as chair of the Academy Trust board.

c) What the ownership and governance structures of the proposed school are.

At the moment, the governing body that is in place is the Academy Trust board, which governs the set up of the school. The ongoing school governing body will need to be set up in the months prior to the launch of the school in 2012. In addition to the staff representatives, who will be recruited in the next months, we are looking to draw from parents and community groups to populate this body, and we urge those interested to engage and apply in the 11 months before the school opening.

d) What you mean by "what works in outstanding London primary schools"?
We are launching this school using a "replication model" - i.e. we have partnered with Amanda Phillips, who is headteacher at Old Ford in Tower Hamlets, a non-selective primary that has been ranked Outstanding by Ofsted. We are working in conjunction with Amanda to replicate her key strategies and processes for managing the school, and will recruit a headteacher to implement the framework.


For more detailed information, we are running an information meeting on October 18th from 11am for an hour:

The Crypt
Borough High St
London SE1 1JA
(Opposite Borough Station) 5 mins walk from London Bridge Station)

We'll very much looking forward to meeting then,
Monday 17 October 2011 5.42pm
The 2000 pupil shortfall is based on statistical analysis from external sources. The Department of Education needed to see "on the ground" demand reflected in the proposal. To this end, we start this process incredibly heartened by the level of support demonstrated so far: within just a few weeks of launching our campaign, we amassed 222 local responses from parents through a canvassing initiative, of which a staggering 96% have been positive.
Monday 17 October 2011 5.45pm
Please see my response below. Apologies again for the delay - I was out of the country for three months, and hadn't been checking the forum. Now that we've been given a formal approval, we'd like to invite you to the information meeting that is planned for October 18th at 11 am at The Crypt on Borough High Street. We'll look forward to seeing you there.

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