We hope that the information on this website will answer most of the questions you may have, but there are a number of questions we are often asked which we can give brief answers to here. These answers relate specifically to The Swanage School and may or may not apply to all free schools.
Why a 'free' school?
We did our very best to work with the local authority to see secondary education returned to Swanage. The Purbeck Review was the ideal opportunity to rebalance the provision of secondary education in Purbeck, returning a school to Swanage after nearly 40 years. Unfortunately this didn't fit with the local authority's stated aim of consolidating schools into larger facilities, despite the lack of any choice and much local unhappiness about the distance young children were expected to travel each day. The Free School policy gave Swanage a much-needed lifeline and allowed Education Swanage to expand upon its proposals in order to see an ambitious school opened for local children.
Will the school be inclusive?
Yes. The Swanage School will be a state-funded comprehensive community secondary school overseen by a locally accountable cooperative Trust. The school will be open to all regardless of ability or circumstance.
Will you employ fully qualified teachers?
Yes. National Curriculum subjects will be taught by properly qualified teachers in each subject.
We plan to use experienced professionals to teach the extra subjects OUTSIDE the National Curriculum - for example RYA-certified junior sailing instructors. Some of these experts will not need school teaching qualifications but all will be fully vetted. In addition, senior qualified staff at the school will manage these programmes.
Teachers will also invite members of the community and/or national experts into class to give talks and workshops to add breadth and depth and to help put lessons into context.
Will teachers get the same pay and conditions as at local authority schools?
We know that if we want to attract the very best teachers to work with us we need to offer pay and conditions either in line with or surpassing those they would expect from a local authority school. In addition, we will provide support and encouragement for continual professional development andthe school ethos is designed to make the school a pleasure to teach in.
We are sure that the exciting opportunity to be involved in a human scale school with high aspirations in one of England's most beautiful coastal areas will attract teachers dedicated to their students and passionate about their subjects.
Will I get free transport?
Dorset County Council, as the local authority, is responsible for school transport for free schools and academies as they are for LA controlled schools. They are obliged to provide free transport for any 11-16 year old living more than three miles away from their nearest school, based on reasonable walking distance. The vast majority of students will be within walking distance and we will encourage sustainable travel.
Will a free school take money away from local authority schools?
Free Schools receive the same funding per student as any other school in Dorset. Like academies, we receive it directly from the Department for Education rather than via the Local Authority. We will only receive funding for the students who attend the school, and schools they might otherwise have attended will not incur the costs of educating those students.
Our buildings are funded directly from central government. Dorset County Council failed to win any “Building Schools for the Future” money so their budget for the local schools reorganisation is coming entirely from local funds and is unaffected by any money we receive from the Education Funding Agency. The Government’s investment in building The Swanage School represents a separate, additional investment in improving Dorset schools that otherwise would have gone elsewhere.
The Swanage School is an 11-16 secondary school and as such none of the capital or per-student funding it receives will have any impact on local primary schools. Once open, the school will be able to offer access to additional staff and facilities for local primary school pupils. A good local secondary school will also help to retain and attract families to Swanage, ensuring a sustainable future for all four primary schools in Swanage and Langton Matravers.
- The School Curriculum
- Project Based Learning
- Learning, Care & Guidance
- Human Scale Education
- FAQ Sheet
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