What is a free school?
Free Schools are an extension of the existing Academies Programme. The Academies Act 2010 allows all existing state schools to become academy schools and it also authorises, in agreement with the Secretary of State, the creation of free schools by groups of parents, teachers, charities, trusts, religious and / or voluntary groups.
Free schools are independent of Local Authority control; however they are funded by the Government and are free of charge to pupils and parents.
Free schools, unlike academies, are not restricted to improving existing schools. Instead, Free Schools are brand new schools set up in new or refurbished buildings, with new facilities and the opportunity for a fresh start.
In addition to passing a rigorous application and review process before they are established, Free Schools are regulated and inspected by Ofsted with their exam results published in league tables. Therefore just like maintained schools or academies, the performance of a Free School is closely monitored to assure parents that their children are being provided with a high standard of education.
Is there a difference between a Free School and an Academy?
Essentially no, however, the free schools programme gives parents and teachers the chance to initiate in the creation of a new school if there is not enough provision or they are unhappy with state schools in a particular local area.
What does Free School mean? Does it mean ‘non-paying’?
Yes. A Free School is a government name for a new type of state-funded school where parents, the community and Charitable Trusts have a role in whether and how the school is established.
Who is funding the School?
The Department for Education/Education Funding Agency. The funding is direct from central government, according to the number of pupils and other factors.
Where will the school be located?
The new school will be positioned at the back of West Croydon Train Station, between London Road and Oakfield Road, on the ex-General Hospital Site.
Will the Free School follow the national curriculum?
Will there be a governing body?
Yes - every school has a governing body.
When will the Principal be appointed?
Mrs Carol – Anne Alcock (the Principal of Harris Academy Purley) will be the Executive Principal of Invictus. The Principal of the school will be appointed and in place by the 1st January 2014. The school will be fully staffed by Spring/ Summer 2014.
How can you reassure prospective parents that you will be able to recruit the right members of staff?
Harris Federation has a track record of recruiting good teachers who are not only attracted to the pay and benefits Harris Federation offer but the prospect of working for such a successful academy trust. We will look to recruit the Principal of the school by January 2014 so that they are on board early in the process and will assist in setting up the school and recruiting the right staff.
Will all teaching staff be trained?
Yes, all teaching staff will be professionally qualified.
How much discretion do heads get in Harris schools?
They have full autonomy.
What provision will be made for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN)?
We will have specialist SEN teachers and provide additional resources where necessary to support each individual child’s special educational needs.
Harris Federation seem to have a very ambitious expansion, do you think a change in government will affect the funding stream?
Harris Federation have successfully worked under all governments and we do not envisage any change in government in the future having a direct impact on the school that would be different to any other school.
Will you work with the LA and the local network of schools?
Free Schools are not in the formal local partnership but they are part of the community, so the Principal will do their best to establish good relationships and work with all the relevant groups.
When would the school have its first Ofsted Inspection?
The school would have a pre-opening Ofsted Inspection and then a full inspection in its second year after opening.