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.