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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
C J Gray
The Independent Grammar School: Durham