Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Another Lap Completed, a Few More Hurdles to go.

Our group, Gemstones, has this week been informed that we are through to the next round of the Special Free School bidding process. Yipee!  It has felt already like a marathon at times and we still have some way to go, so no time to dawdle or indulge in premature celebrations. We are hugely encouraged though and committed to providing a compelling and cogent case for our school as part of the next stage of the process.     
As I have come to expect from the Free School proposal process, there was considerable detail provided in the invitation to interview about what was expected of us and what we would need to demonstrate during the interview process. It has even been suggested that we prepare as a team with mock interviews!  I am expected to provide the names of the members of our team (4 is the suggested number and no more than 6 allowed) by noon on Friday 29th July.  Considering the email invitation only appeared during Monday afternoon, the turn around is clearly tight, especially with it being in the holiday season, making contact with some of our members problematic. 
We have also had another positive meeting with the local authority. It was great to be able to share with them the news about our interview at the Department. The meeting was our fourth in the last six months and close communication has paid off.  These meetings have been very positive and encouraging, so confidence and trust in the relationship is building.  This is indeed fortunate as partnership working is essential for the success of any Special Free School proposal as unlike the situation for mainstream schools the LA will be the admissions authority. I note also with interest that because of this difference in the mainstream and special Free School processes there will be LA representation on the interview panel.
We are hoping therefore that the local authority will be with us at the finishing line and part of the medal presentation ceremony with the real prizes going to the children and their families.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Special Free School Paperwork Submitted, Now Back to Building Relationships

Having now had 3 weeks without the frantic activity associated with the writing of the proposal (which was of course in addition to the day job), I have now had the luxury of some time for reflection.   It has allowed me to identify what it is that I really love about working on important new projects and working on this one in particular.  For me it is definitely building and in some cases renewing of relationships with like-minded people.  I am reminded of a quote from the inspirational Margaret Mead who said:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

What gave me the motivation to keep working on the proposal, when I had my doubts about whether or not we would be able to meet the requirements and especially the deadlines, was the encouragement I received from parents, team members, former colleagues, teachers, headteachers and many others.  Without their support, I would not have been able to continue to hold the vision clearly in my mind and find the resources from within myself and from within our talented team, to adequately express that vision in a compelling way within our proposal.

I am now continuing with the consultation and find that I derive enormous satisfaction and inspiration from the responses that I receive.  Paper work and meticulous planning is, I know essential, but must not detract from, nor get in the way of, building strong and productive relationships with key partners and stakeholders.

This small yet growing group of thoughtful and committed people helps to keep me motivated and aware of the many possibilities of positive change that we believe this Special Free School will bring to children and their families.  It also serves as a useful distraction whilst we are waiting to hear about whether our proposal has made it through into the next round.