Open Evening coming up ...

Thank you to all those parents who have enrolled children for the start of the new school year. Although at the beginning of the holidays the summer seems to stretch out endlessly before us, we all know that September will come around very quickly.  We are really looking forward to opening our school and to seeing our hopes and dreams come true. We know that our school model is new and different, and that it can make a huge difference for so many parents who value the ideas of independence and excellence in education – at an affordable price.

We still have places available and are holding another Open Evening on Tuesday 31st July at 6.45 pm at the school (Claypath, Durham, DH1 1RH).  There is no need to book a place – just turn up, bringing your children if you wish, and enjoy some light refreshments before learning more about the school, meeting some of the staff and asking questions.

For those parents who have already enrolled children for September, we will soon be sending you details of how to buy school uniform.  If you have any questions at all about any aspect of the school, please speak to Mr Gray (Principal) on 07984 619739 at any time. 

We wish you all a very pleasant summer.

UPDATE 9th July 2018

Some parents might have seen yesterday’s article in the Sunday Telegraph, which has already stirred up considerable interest in IGS: Durham from all over the country. Admissions are growing, although we still have places available in all year groups. We have recruited a number of great teachers, who are keen to get started with us (although we have decided to allow them a summer holiday first). We aim to hold another Open Evening at 6.45 on Tuesday 31st July at the school.

So – things continue to move forward on a number of fronts. The time between now and 17th September will fly by so we will be working very hard indeed over the summer – no holidays for some of us!

We are very aware that some of the parents who expressed interest in the school in the weeks following our original announcement well over a year ago have not yet confirmed their interest by submitting an application. There may of course be many reasons for that but, if you are still considering IGS: Durham, please do get in touch. You are always welcome to visit the school and discuss your child’s education with us. (Call Mr Gray on 07984 619739 to arrange a visit).

All interested parents are warmly invited to attend the Open Evening on 31st July. That will be an opportunity to hear more about the school, tour the building, meet staff and have your questions answered.

ADMISSIONS

The initial deadline for applications to IGS: Durham has now passed and places have been allocated.  We are not yet over-subscribed so are delighted to say that all those parents who applied will be informed within the next few days that they have been successful.  We look forward to their children joining us in September.

Places are still available and we will continue to accept applications.

Entry forms are available here, from principal@igsdurham.com or alternatively phone 07984 619739

YOU AND YOURS - BBC radio 4

YOU AND YOURS - Radio 4 today.

IGS: Durham was featured prominently on today's You and Yours programme.  The programme has an interview with Professor Tooley and some of the parents who attended last week's Open Evening.  The link to the programme can be found below:

Open Evenings

As we announced last week (see below), we are delighted to be able to say that our application to register The Independent Grammar School: Durham has been successful and we will now be opening the school as planned on 17th September. This is great news – thank you all for your patience!

The next step will be an open evening on Tuesday 12th June at the school, starting at 7.00 pm with coffee and tea served from 6.45.  We will then repeat the event a week later on Wednesday 20th June at the same time. All interested parents are invited to attend one of these evenings, which will be an opportunity to hear more about the school, ask questions, have a tour of the building and, if you wish to do so, to enrol your child(ren).

Enrolment will involve completing a simple form and paying a £50 enrolment fee. Places are offered on a first-come-first served basis. As you know, the date of receipt of your expression of interest will be deemed to be the date of your application as soon as you confirm your application and pay the fee. We have set a deadline of 30th June for confirmations to be received and we will then allocate places according to either the date of your expression of interest or of your application.

Parents may apply for a place without attending the open evenings, although it would be good to see as many of you there as possible. If you are unable to attend, but would like to apply, please contact us (principal@igsdurham.com) and we will send you an application form.

Although all parents are welcome to attend the open evenings without booking a place, it would be very helpful if you could let us know whether you are planning to attend.

GREAT NEWS!

We are delighted to announce that we have been informed today (31st May) that our school has been officially approved by the Department for Education and has been entered on the Register of Independent Schools.

The Independent Grammar School: Durham will therefore open on Monday 17th September 2018. 

This is exciting news and we look forward to meeting many prospective parents and children at open days/evenings to be arranged in the very near future.  Details will appear here. 

 

UPDATE 16th April 2018

As expected, Ofsted conducted an inspection of our school last week which went well.  Ofsted will pass their findings to the Department for Education, who will then make a decision concerning our registration.  We very much hope that this will be positive and will enable us to open our school in September.  As soon as we have news, we will announce it here.  

UPDATE 3rd April 2018

All planned work has now been completed and we are eagerly awaiting our next Ofsted inspection so that we can evidence what we have done to address the issues identified last year.  We are still hopeful of a September opening.  

UPDATE 23rd March 2018

We promised to update the website every week and will continue to do so even when, as is the case right now, there is not a lot to say.  Good news is that the work on the building is progressing and is scheduled to be finished by next Wednesday.  No glitches so far!

Update 15th March 2018

We have today briefed our contractor to begin work on Monday.  The work involves, among other more minor jobs, installing low level toilets, creating a suitable sick bay and fitting an automatic closer on what will be the school gate.  The timescale is about a fortnight so we hope that shortly after that we will have our Ofsted inspection and receive DfE approval to open in September. 

Once the work is completed we'd be very happy to show parents round again - please get in touch if you’d find that helpful. 

Update for Parents - 7th MARCH 2018

Things have been rather quiet for a few months as we have worked to address the issues raised by the Department for Education following the Ofsted inspection last June.  Having developed what we hope was a thorough response, we met with the Department a couple of weeks ago and they have now responded to inform us that a further Ofsted inspection will be carried out soon to establish whether we have implemented the changes we identified.  We are comfortable with this situation as we believe we have very robust plans in place to do so.  We have today commissioned our architects to arrange for the works to start.  They are relatively minor in nature, although important in helping us to ensure the best possible environment for children.

We hope therefore that we will soon have good news about the school's opening in September 2018, which remains our firm aim.  If we are indeed able to confirm that over the next few weeks, we will be arranging a number of open days/evenings for parents to visit and learn more about what The Independent Grammar School: Durham has to offer.

Thank you for your continued interest and do keep in touch with the website, which will now be updated on a weekly basis.

Chris Gray, Barrie Craven and James Tooley

IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR PARENTS - PLEASE READ

IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR PARENTS –PLEASE READ

Dear Parents

Over the weekend, we received both good news and bad news.

The good news is that the DfE were comfortable with all the educational aspects of our application for the Independent Grammar School, Durham, at the desired price point of £52 per week. The bad news is that they raised a small number of issues concerning our use of the building. While we are confident that these issues will be fully addressed, we cannot guarantee that these would be approved in time for the hoped-for opening on 8th January. Therefore, we have to conclude that realistically we will only be able to open our low-cost private school in the North East in September 2018.

We realize this is the second time we’ve pushed back the opening and deeply apologize for that. It has however been beyond our control.

We had planned to hold the parents’ evening on Wednesday this week (18th October), assuming that there would be fully good news by then. We have decided that we will still be at the school from 7 pm on Wednesday onwards, and will be very happy to have a cup of coffee with anyone who wants to come by. Of course we will understand if people would prefer to wait until we have the registration process completed later.

Thank you so much for your interest in the school. We look forward to writing to you some time in the near future with fully good news.

Yours faithfully,

 

Chris Gray, James Tooley and Barrie Craven

Letter to Parents - 24th August 2017

This letter was emailed today to all parents who have expressed interest in IGS: Durham.  The contact details form referred to is not given here but will be sent to all parents who complete the "expression of interest" template on the website.

Dear Parents

First of all, may I thank you for your expression of interest in your child joining The Independent Grammar School: Durham.

I am writing to all parents personally to explain our current situation regarding the opening of the school. As you will hopefully have seen from the school website (www.igsdurham.com) our opening has been delayed until January 2018 owing to the ongoing process of consideration by the Department for Education, who must approve all new schools before they can begin operating.  We hope and expect that we will hear from them very soon, but you will appreciate that that is beyond our control.  As soon as we hear, we will inform you immediately.

Assuming that we are approved to open, our first day will be Monday 8th January.  Clearly, your children, assuming they are of school age, will be either starting a new school or continuing at their existing school in September.  You may decide you are happy to keep them there, and we would certainly not wish to appear to be “poaching” children from other schools, but if you still wish your child to join us, bear in mind that children may change schools at any time during the school year.  So, even if your child has started the school year elsewhere they may still come to us in January (or at any point after that) should you wish, and the transition will be relatively straightforward.

We have been delighted that, without advertising as such, we have had almost 100 expressions of interest.  That confirms our view that there is a real demand for the kind of school we are proposing, and that we are likely to have more than enough children to make the school viable.  If necessary, we are quite prepared to begin with very small numbers but it increasingly looks as if we won’t have to!  So thank you for your support.

Some parents have expressed the concern that the school will be full and they will miss out on a place.  Please rest assured that if you have submitted an expression of interest, we will view that as an application for a place when we allocate places on a first-come-first-served basis – so your place, should you choose to firm up your interest once we are approved, is guaranteed subject to the normal terms of admission (see the website for details).

You will see from the website that we are registering the school in the first year for Reception up to Year 4.  Our aim is then to grow by one year every year thereafter – so, for example, in September 2018 we aim to have a new Reception class and the Year 4 children will move up to a new Year 5 class.  I realise that that will disappoint a number of parents whose children are older than Year 4.  I hope you will understand that a line had to be drawn somewhere. 

If any of you have yet to visit the school, please feel free to email me, or call me on 07984 619739, and we can make an appointment.  I and my colleagues will be delighted to meet you.  In the meantime, we will be arranging an evening reception in Durham very soon and will be issuing invitations to all existing prospective parents as well as any others who might be interested.  That will give us the opportunity to explain in more detail what kind of school we will be, and give you the chance to ask questions, meet other parents, view curriculum materials and talk to staff and Board members.  We will let you know details nearer the time. 

May I ask you to complete and return the short form given below?  This is to help us to be quite clear about names, dates of birth etc. for your children, as well as your full contact details. This does not commit you to anything and is not part of the admission process.  Please print the form, complete and return to: C J Gray, Principal, IGS: Durham, Claypath, Durham, DH1 1RH.  That would be very helpful.

Please do contact me if you wish to discuss any aspect of the school. 

I hope you enjoy the rest of the summer,

C J Gray

Principal

IGS: Durham

24 August 2017

 

Update - 10th August

Dear Parents

We hope you are well and enjoying a summer break. 

As you know, we’ve been hoping to obtain Department for Education (DfE) permission to open our school in September.  While the rigorous process is steadily moving forward – we’ve had the Ofsted inspection which we thought went well – unfortunately, it has not yet been completed. Regretfully, we will therefore have to postpone opening our school until Monday 8th January - again, of course, subject to approval. 

We sincerely apologise for this, but as you will understand, it is beyond our control. We are confident however that we will be able to open the school in January, and look forward to welcoming your children then. (Do remember that there are no restrictions on when a child can join a new school). 

Do please feel free to contact Chris Gray at any time to discuss this development further.

Sincerely, 

James Tooley

Barrie Craven

Chris Gray

Latest Update 6th July

We are still awaiting a decision from the Department for Education following their receipt of Ofsted’s inspection report.  The delay is in fact on our side rather than theirs: our fire risk assessment report was slightly later in arriving than we had hoped and that has delayed the process somewhat.  We are still doing all within our power to be ready to open in September, but must once again remind parents that they should not rely on a place being available at IGS: Durham and should make alternative arrangements in case we are not able to open on time.  There remains the possibility (assuming that we are approved) that we will have to delay our opening but it is worth noting that schools can open at any time and there are no restrictions on when a child may join a school.   Thank you for your interest in IGS: Durham and do keep an eye on the website for updates.

C J Gray

Principal 

The Independent Grammar School: Durham

 

Latest Update - 16th June

We had our long-awaited Ofsted inspection today. This is compulsory for all new schools and results in a report to the Department for Education on whether Ofsted believe we are likely to meet the Independent School Standards. We now await the DfE's decision, which is expected to be with us in around two weeks. We remain hopeful of being approved to open in September but it is now a case of "wait and see". We will update the website again when we have any news.

C J Gray

Principal

The Independent Grammar School: Durham

IGS: Durham – Update at 5th June 2017

I am calling this an update, but am not sure that is quite accurate as in most respects there is very little to say!  The registration process is still underway with the DfE, and of course we must gain formal approval before we can formally open. All schools need to be properly checked out and we value the rigour involved in the process. However, we still hope to open as planned on 18th September. 

As we have said in all our communication, it is vital that parents ensure they have alternative provision in place as we still cannot guarantee that the school will open as planned. 

Prospective parents might be interested to know that we have had over 60 expressions of interest since February. That is very encouraging and suggests that we would have a healthy number of children to start the school. Many parents have visited the school and all have been impressed by its facilities. We have received many unsolicited applications from teachers – our type of school and the values we are promoting will always be attractive to those who are really serious about teaching!  

You might also have seen that the local media reported some comments made last week by representatives of the National Union of Teachers about our school. Of course we realise that not everyone will agree with what we are proposing. We value all comments and perspectives and look forward to discussing these further with our critics as our work progresses. 

It may be worth stressing what IGS: Durham will be doing in contrast with what the union representative said we would not be doing: 

IGS: Durham will most definitely start life with a team of qualified teachers with appropriate experience. We will also have access to very good sports facilities (indeed as many parents who have visited already will have seen, we have a great sports hall already). Our curriculum, far from being merely "off the shelf", is wide, varied, rich and of high quality. 

Many schools are already using the same curriculum around the country. The following extract from a recent Ofsted report on a London school shows the strengths of the curriculum we propose to use: 

The curriculum is designed to develop pupils’ skills, knowledge and understanding across a wide range of subjects. It promotes pupils’ enjoyment, confidence and ability to think for themselves. The curriculum emphasises the history and culture of Britain and promotes fundamental British values extremely well. The Reception and Year 1 pupil councils learn about democracy. They put key principles into practice and vote for the best way to enter the school buildings. Year 1 pupils learn about the kings and queens of England and how the Magna Carta is the basis for British law. They write about ‘bad King John’ and explain that it is wrong to take people’s money and to lie. Children in Reception learn about the rule of law and apply these basic rules by establishing their own class rules. A significant emphasis is placed on visual arts and music. There are numerous visits and visitors which bring pupils’ learning to life. The curriculum promotes pupils’ social, moral, spiritual and cultural exceptionally well. Pupils’ mature attitudes and social skills mean that they are very well prepared for life in modern Britain.

Parents can, of course, check out all that we intend to do for themselves. If you haven't already, please come and visit us. At the end of the day, your opinion is the one that matters!

Next steps for us, assuming our approval happens reasonably soon, will be an open evening and some advertising.  If you have visited the school, you can help with the latter by emailing me comments about any aspect of what we are proposing.  I hope I’m not being presumptuous in anticipating at least a few positive comments!  We can then use them, unattributed if you wish, on the website and in other promotional material.

Thank you all for your interest in IGS: Durham.  We remain excited about opening soon and look forward to beginning a long and fruitful relationship with you and your children. In the meantime, look out for further news updates on the school website. 

Enjoy the summer and please do not hesitate to get in touch with me at any time on 07984 619739 or at principal@igsdurham.com.

C J Gray

Principal

The Independent Grammar School: Durham

WELCOME

The Independent Grammar School: Durham represents a radical approach to independent education.

For many parents, state education, good though it often can be, would not be their first choice.  The only alternative is a private school and, with average fees of just under £10,000 per year, that is simply unaffordable for all but the very well-off.  Our view is that there is a third way – a low cost private school.

Low cost private schools offer the best of private education at a fee that is affordable to many – £2,700 a year, or £52 a week.  IGS: Durham is the first of what we hope will be a chain of similar schools offering high quality, “no frills” education available to parents who love what private schools can offer but are currently not able to afford it.

Our focus will be on a traditional curriculum taught by passionate teachers who love their job and are free to do it really well.  Our standards will be high, demanding excellent manners and respectful behaviour, based on a determination that every child will be enabled to achieve his or her very best.  All within an ethos of "stretch, enjoyment and academic rigour".  

“Low cost” means that we will concentrate on those things which make the difference. Our premises will be simple and unpretentious - clean, hygienic and welcoming, with good quality, though not necessarily hugely expensive, resources.  Our curriculum will be traditional and knowledge-rich, giving children access to the best of what has been written, spoken and said.  Our teachers will be people who love children and are totally committed to the vision of the school.

We will adopt a broad, inclusive Christian ethos.  IGS: Durham is non-selective with no admissions criteria other than a commitment from parents to “buy in” to what we offer.  Our premises on Claypath in Durham are bright and modern and they provide a delightful, welcoming environment.  

So – welcome to our website.  You will find here most of the information you will need and we hope you will go further and arrange to meet the Principal and look round our school.  We are excited by what IGS: Durham can do for your child.  Come and visit and we believe you will share that excitement too!

EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST

Until we have had our obligatory pre-opening inspection by Ofsted and been approved by the Department for Education we cannot confirm places. However, expressions of interest are invited and you will be notified when applications can be made.

To express interest in your child joining IGS: Durham you may choose from three options. 

1. Call Chris Gray (Principal) on 07984 619739

2. Email Principal@igsdurham.com

3. Fill in online form by clicking here.

In all cases Mr Gray will arrange to meet you personally to set out the school's vision and enable you to understand why and how IGS: Durham can provide your child with an outstanding education.