Frequently asked questions
We find that we're often asked similar questions, so we've tried to answer a selection of the most common below. If you can't find an answer to your question here, please contact us.
What is the Greenwich Free School and how will it be different?
The first big difference is that we are a smaller, more personal school, where teachers really get to know every pupil as an individual. This means they can challenge and nurture our pupils more effectively. We operate tutor groups of 25 pupils and have no more than 100 pupils in each year group.
Our ethos is also a very important part of how we distinguish ourselves. Our 'no excuses' approach to attitude, work and discipline means we have very high expectations of all our pupils - and staff!
In concrete terms, though, we offer Greenwich children access to the kind of opportunities more normally found at leading independent schools:
• an extended school day from 8:00 to 5:30, so they spend a third more time learning
• a wide range of daily extra-curricular activities to excite them and provide the kind of fun ways to learn that help develop the skills they need to do well in their other subjects
• a more personalised and flexible curriculum that focuses on depth rather than breadth
• investing a greater proportion of our budget in great teachers rather than fancy buildings and lots of non-teaching staff
We think that taken together, that's quite an exciting proposition for Greenwich children!
Why did you select Greenwich?
Several of our founders live and work in Greenwich, so we feel passionate about the local area. We also believe there is room for the type of school we have established.
Greenwich doesn't have any other schools like ours. The average school size in Greenwich is 1140, whereas we will have no more than 700 at full capacity (including 200 in the sixth form). There are currently no small non-denominational schools in the borough.
You are new and unproven: what makes you confident you will succeed?
The Greenwich Free School is a small, local school that sets high expectations for pupils and staff and offers the kind of opportunities that make a difference at the top schools - an extended school day, lots of extra-curricular activities, a focus on mastering the fundamentals and investing in recruiting and developing great teachers.
Our proposal is based on what has been proven to work - in London and around the world. Schools like King Solomon Academy, Mossbourne Academy and the Harris chain of schools all follow a very similar approach to ours, and have achieved great results for London children.
Internationally, we have taken a lot of inspiration from the experience of the successful 'KIPP' charter schools in the US. They take 85% of their pupils from low-income families but achieve a 95% graduation rate with 85% of pupils going to college.
We have also hired a superb staff body - with exceptional track records. And we've assembled an outstanding Board of Governors, including a National Leader of Education, a Barrister and professionals from some of the world's top companies: Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and Clifford Chance.
If you're still not convinced, we have also partnered with Dr Challoner's Grammar School to provide educational advice and support as we grow to scale. Dr Challoner's is one of the best state schools in the country: in 2012, the Financial Times listed it as the 7th best state school in the country (and 35th best school, including all independent schools).
Lord Adonis, the former Schools Minister, says: 'The teachers and staff at Greenwich Free School are passionate about the importance of education, and they combine their passion with great professionalism and skill. They will do their very best for your child.'
Rachel Wolf, Director of the New Schools' Network says: 'GFS is one of the country's most impressive and forward-thinking Free Schools, attracting considerable national attention and setting an exceptionally high quality bar for future Free Schools. I'm confident that its superb team will provide an outstanding education for the children of Greenwich.'
Will the Greenwich Free School harm other schools in Greenwich?
This is a common concern, but we don't think so: no. We hope the Greenwich Free School will work with other Greenwich schools - and the Local Authority - to provide more outstanding school places for the increasing number of Greenwich children.
We are are a smaller, non-denominational secondary school for Greenwich - something that didn't previously exist. So this is about giving parents the choice to decide what type of school they would like their children to attend.
We receive the same funding, per pupil, as any other school: we're just offering parents a different way for the state to invest in their children.
Why are you doing this?
Many of our founders are teachers and school governors. Every day we see things about the school system we'd like to change and improve. In 2010 we were given the chance to step up and deliver.
What qualifies you to do this?
We've put together a diverse group of teachers, local parents and professionals - ranging from retired and current headteachers, deputy and assistant headteachers and 'Outstanding' classroom teachers - through to lawyers, financial consultants, a doctor, a diplomat and Oxford academics. This gives us a wide range of skills to build a great new school.
Why are Free Schools a good idea?
That's probably more a question for the Department of Education than for us! We are a group who are passionate about education and want to set up a new, outstanding, school for children in Greenwich. The Free School programme lets us do that, whereas we wouldn't otherwise be able to volunteer our time in this way. We hope that the end result will be a great new school for Greenwich from which thousands of children will benefit over the years.
How do you spend your Pupil Premium money?
We invest our Pupil Premium money in several ways to support our pupils' learning. It helps fund:
• Our smaller class sizes, providing each pupil with more attention.
• Our innovative 60% timetable for teachers, giving them more time to plan better lessons and provide more thorough feedback on work.
• Our Student Development Officer, a full-time, non-teaching member of staff who provides pastoral support to pupils and more personal academic and pastoral interventions where required.
• Our 'Mastery Classes,' run by a qualified teacher as a timetabled class, to help pupils master English and Maths where they need a little more focus on these areas.
• Additional professional development and training for our teachers, to enable them to become even more effective at supporting our pupils.
• A more varied and exciting enrichment programme to engage our pupils with school and help them develop skills that support the core curriculum in an engaging and exciting way.
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