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Help needed to open Free bilingual school in Muswell Hill / Ally Pally area

(18 Posts)
ninanutella Sat 18-Jul-15 09:56:37

My name is Nina and I am a language teacher. I want to open a bilingual Free School (primary) in the Muswell Hill / Ally Pally area. I have already started working on it and got in touch with the people in charge of supporting the FS network but I need help.

I am looking for parents willing to invest their time and expertise in the project.
Essentially I need people with leadership experience in a primary school, people in advertisement, accountancy, parents governors etc...
Anyone willing to take part is more than welcome.

Ideally I am looking at a September 2016 opening but if not 2017 it will be.

nlondondad Fri 24-Jul-15 14:30:26

The big issue with opening a new school, Free or otherwise, is usually getting premises. How are you on that?

The other thing would be, that as you are planning a bi lingual school, what was the second language you had in mind?

MaybeDoctor Fri 24-Jul-15 14:35:57

The area is bulging with high attaining primary schools, albeit with tiny catchments.

I admire your enthusiasm, but is there a demonstrable need for your school?

Portfolioholder Fri 24-Jul-15 17:36:38

Did you talk to the New Schools Network? They should have advised you that 2016 was impossible. The approval process to go into pre-opening takes many months once the next round opens, then there is the time in pre-opening.

The application round was open from the 22nd-29th May 2015. It will re-open but the timing has not been announced. Below is the last guidance

As nlondon dad says the main issue in London is finding a suitable site large enough to house a school.

As maybe doctor says there has to be basic need for pupil places or the need for an alternative to low quality local provision; and local demand for new provision (including innovative and distinctive models).

The DFE Guidance says We continue to have difficulty finding sites in a small number of areas, particularly in London. This is likely to mean that you will need to be flexible about where the school is located if you put an application in for one of those areas.

ninanutella Fri 24-Jul-15 18:03:12

hello everyone
sorry for not getting back to you I didn't receive any notification.

yes there is a high demand especially for primary (we live in a "black spot" and many of my neighbours were sent to Tottenham or Woodgreen)
Many boroughs including Haringey are reaching a breaking point in terms of schools places and we need to tackle it as they won't and can't do it. It is quite a challenging project, I agree, that's why I would like to see people getting involved as I won't be able to do it alone. You have probably heard of the horrendous reception places story for this year alone and don't even get me started on the parents of my oldest one's friends moaning on how they are likely to not have a secondary space because of catchments becoming smaller and smaller.

However as @nlondondad is saying the difficulty is the location but I have met a lovely couple in Crouch End area thanks to this post and they came up with an amazing location we "just" need to have it sorted now.

For the language it will be French and we are thinking of offering the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of languages as many parents will agree that the provision for languages in primary schools is a joke.

I am in touch with the free school and you are right @portfolioholder it is very likely to be for 2017

ninanutella Fri 24-Jul-15 18:04:58

also for the school we are looking at doing a whole through offering bilingual and non bilingual classes

Portfolioholder Fri 24-Jul-15 18:21:36

It is not 'very likely' it is impossible to open a 2016 free school now unless you already have an application submitted and under assessment . 2017 or 2018.

You need a massive site for a primary school- have you looked at the minimum size requirements? Outdoor play space? Playground? 420 pupils?

Have you been given funding/development support by NSN to support your proposal?

Portfolioholder Fri 24-Jul-15 18:26:39

Another good thing would be to meet with some of the bi-lingual free schools already open. Are they looking to expand and open further schools?

ninanutella Fri 24-Jul-15 21:18:43

We are trying to look at partnerships with local primary / secondary schools but we will have to wait until September now. I have seen cases of partnerships with independent schools and we are planning on approaching free schools around. NSN also advised me to get in touch with

Once we have a solid project and it's approved the Education Funding Agency is supposed to help find the site or refurbished/ acquire one. I am not too worried about it because I think the one we now have in mind should meet the requirement.

Regarding the funding it's still an early stage they did mention the financial support but insisted on first building up a team hence my thread.
Essentially: parents governors, a primary school assistant head / headteacher/ accountant/ marketing before even starting the survey etc...
are you willing to help?

ninanutella Fri 24-Jul-15 21:20:11

sorry I'm new on mumsnet can you edit something you've posted?

MaybeDoctor Sat 25-Jul-15 08:41:46

Open it up in Wood Green or the eastern end of the borough. It is there that children need more educational opportunities.

Sorry, but this plan sums up the whole problem of the free schools movement. This bilingual school sounds great, but it should not be state funded - open it as an independent school.

Goshitshighuphere Sat 25-Jul-15 09:19:05

The school that you link to is part of an established multi-academy trust - a diocese trust and has support of Harrow School.

Do you want a school as part of a faith MAT?

ninanutella Sat 25-Jul-15 10:53:32

@MaybeDoctor why do you think it's wrong to open new schools in areas where clearly there are more demands than spaces? My son who is on the autistic spectrum and has severe speech delay will not go to any of our local schools and will have to travel at least 40 minutes to get to the school he has been allocated. I'm not talking about raising the standards of teaching I'm talking about supplying school places to children within their local area without having to travel miles away. Woodgree schools don't struggle to fill in their places (earlham grove, trinity, noel park and so on) Last time I checked none of them was oversubscribed and some turned into academies to tackle the problems of poor standards.
I was against the idea of "free school", I'm a teacher, working in a state school in the most deprived borough in London so I believe in state education but if the borough can't build new school and I can't afford private education what do I do?
I choose to be proactive and try to do something about it instead of just sitting and expecting the world to be a better place. Is it the idea of bilingualism that you find too fancy and don't approve?

ninanutella Sat 25-Jul-15 10:58:23

@Goshitshighuphere I don't think I want a faith school as I know people could be put off. I want it to be inclusive with a real community feel just as any other state school.

MaybeDoctor Sat 25-Jul-15 13:05:49

I have nothing against the idea of a bilingual school - as I said, it sounds great. I am also sorry that you didn't get the school that you wanted for your son.

I know that area quite well as we looked at schools there when we were thinking of moving to that area. I have visited four of the primaries and know that they offer some of the best state provison around. But is it really the best use of state funding to set up another school in that area rather than supporting and improving provision in the eastern end of the borough? This is not a criticism of your plans, but rather of the free schools trend as a whole.

ninanutella Sat 25-Jul-15 13:54:18

I know what you mean I think academies are more about "raising" achievements and standards in existing schools and free schools offer new school places. Often they are set in well-off area and I understand your point of view as it seems they are using public funding to create elitist states schools which is absolutely not the case here. I want a fair and transparent system to avoid the whole buying / renting/ sibling cheating system. I am thinking of maybe setting quotas of minimum of SEN / FSP or PP inline with Haringey figures and not the local area, maybe with a school bus service to pick up children further away. For example if you look at Rhodes avenue data their SEN figure is 2.8 for 2014 (7.7 nationally), FSM around 6% (26% nationally)

Maybe if this one were to work well we could think of setting others elsewhere. At the moment I'm just being "selfish" and want to serve my local community where I have been living for 5 years but I see where you are coming from

MaybeDoctor Sat 25-Jul-15 15:15:24

If there are ways that you can set the admissions criteria in such a way to have a quota of FSM, then that would be an admirable thing to do.

ninanutella Sat 25-Jul-15 16:40:30

I'm not a 100 percent sure but it should be possible. I know that academies can set their admissions criteria. I need to research more that side but first really I need people so we can get started

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