Monday, 22 October 2012

Parents bid for secondary free school in NW2 area

A small group of Brent parents are in the process of applying to the Department for Education to open a secondary free school in the NW2 area.

They have circulated e-mails to local residents and are distributing leaflets at local primary schools in an effort to get a minimum of 240 parents of children currently in Year 4 or 5 to pledge support for their application. The deadline is just before Christmas.

I have been warning for some time that the disproportionate number of secondary schools in the south of Brent, compared with the north, could lead to such an application. I have also suggested that many parents prefer a smaller school. This proposal is for a four form entry which would make it smaller than some of the expanded Brent primary schools.

The group have a website HERE.

They summarise their proposal thus:
Gladstone is an exciting new school offering 120 places each year to 11-19 year olds in north west London. Designed by education professionals and parents, the school will create strong links with universities, the local community and London's creative, scientific and cultural organisations.

Our vision is for an ambitious, popular, community-focused school. The knowledge, skills and confidence it provides will transform the aspirations and achievements of all it touches. We'll set high standards, because young people learn best when we expect the best of them. Children starting with us will receive academic rigour, inspirational teaching and rich cultural and physical activities. But we'll also focus on enjoyment since the most ambitious targets are met when learners are active, happy and motivated. Those children will leave us as successful young adults, with qualifications to secure the best that life offers. And they will know the pride of being part of a community, but the confidence to go it alone.
This is what they say about their ethos:

The "inspiration; confidence; success" mantra underpins and informs the management of every element of our school life, from individual child to whole-school policies. Any planned action must be measured against the same checklist: how does this inspire students? how does it increase their confidence? how can we, or they, measure success?
It also provides a firm foundation for the school ethos, which includes the following aims:
  • to provide a strong academic curriculum, balanced with creative and entrepreneurial activities;
  • to promote individual ambition by setting and monitoring personalised targets for every student, alongside tailored academic and pastoral support, so that every student maximises their academic and personal potential;
  • to relentlessly pursue exciting and inspirational opportunities for all students, and to seek out individuals and organisations who can support these aspirations;
  • to capitalise on the interests, passions and expertise of local parents and the community;
  • to ensure all students secure the academic achievements needed to go on to university, if they choose to;
  • to encourage and empower young people to become independent: in their learning and their lives generally; and
  • to attract and retain the very best teachers by providing them with tailored support, encouragement and professional development opportunities.
I have submitted a number of searching questions to the group about their proposal and hope to carry their answers soon. The questions focus on issues of  access, equality, accountability and teachers' conditions of service.

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