Just a quick update to all interested parties regarding the current situation with the free school bid:

Whilst there hasn’t been much news regarding the free school bid, lots have been going on behind the scenes and plans are still progressing.

The David Ross Education Trust (DRET) are working hard towards the new bid application which is to be submitted in May 2014 which if approved by central government should mean a school opening for September 2015.

We recently held an open forum for David Ross Education Trust (DRET) to talk to local residents regarding their proposals some of the information from this discussion has been listed below:

Q – What is their current experience?
They currently run a number of schools which include Welton Primary and Newnham Primary school, they are also in the final stages of taking on board the Abbey School (Daventry). They also have plans in progress to build a new secondary school in Northampton http://www.dret.co.uk/news-and-events/your-views-needed-proposal-new-northampton-secondary

Q – Will there be a nursery?
This will be looked at subject to sufficient evidence of demand

Q – What will the size of the school be?
The school will be built as 1 Form Entry (approx 30 children per year group) and consideration could be given to build a school that is 2 Form Entry (approx 60 children per year group) to allow the school to grow in the future. They explained that the bid has to demonstrate proof of demand in the immediate area and that strict evidence criteria has to be followed when submitting the application.

Q – What new builds have DRET had the experience of building?
Since DRET took over Malcolm Arnold Secondary, which at the time was in special measures, it has gone from shocking to many elements in the OFSTED report of good to outstanding and that this has been over the past two years. There is a build on this site in Northampton – a community consolation is taking place and it is due to open in 2014. At the Olympic Stadium site a patch of land has been offered for a through school with facilities and use of Olympic facilities. All schools sponsored by DRET will get to use the facilities.

Q – What makes the model sustainable?
By taking on school DRET are making promises to the government and the school as a sustainable building will always be here. DRET also invest in training and teacher improvements etc.

Q – A parent raised an issue that if there is not a nursery then parents will be pushed to choose other schools with a nursery close by so they don’t have to ‘juggle’ children between educational settings?
DRET explained that there has to be sufficient evidence of demand. Comment was made that once again we need to look at realistic picture of where we are located and that there is no nursery or preschool provision in the immediate area therefore it would be most suitable to have some form of nursery within the local area.

Q – Can before and after school care be provided?
Many of their schools currently host clubs after school and breakfast clubs.

Q – Can we use evidence of demand from out of the area?
The consultation which will be via an online questionnaire and printed questionnaire will collate evidence of demand from within 1-3 mile radius of school, the set guidelines re what we are looking for and how to evidence. The Department Of Education will look at the data and accept it in good word but will check with Local Authority to verify that evidence is true. They can also call for written evidence – i.e. Online questionnaires, paper questionnaires.

Q – Have there been any issues with regards to the current academies and schools sponsored by DRET.?
DRET currently run 18 schools which are to due increase to 27 by 2014. Every multi academy sponsor has been subjected to a big government based audit – DRET can currently expand to 30 academies and the Government approves their involvement in Middlemore Free school bid.

We will over the next few weeks have some questionnaires that will need completing by local residents. The questionnaire details are being finalised; the DfE have changed some of the bid application criteria and have advised that totally fresh evidence has to be submitted.

For further information on the David Ross Education Trust you can visit their website www.dret.co.uk