The last few weeks have been really busy for us. We were still working on ‘evidence of demand’ by attending the Cheshire Game and Country Fair at the Cheshire showground at the end of August, but mainly by doing a large mailshot. We sent many letters by post, and hand-delivered others, and these have resulted in more registers of interest. However, we still need to gather evidence of demand. We stand a much better chance of succeeding in our application if we have many more than the minimum number of registrations.
In addition, we needed to finalise the application. We needed to draw up a very detailed education plan, right down to the numbers of teachers we would need, a draft timetable, and details of policies and procedures. And all this needed to be tightly budgeted with all the various costs of the proposed free school included.
We already had a strong team of supporters on board, but ideally we needed a couple more. We were delighted in the last couple of weeks that an excellent bursar from a local independent school volunteered to give us help, and also a Vice Principal from a local college. Both of these people are kindly giving help and support in their free time, and we greatly value their expertise.
The final application was well over a hundred pages long, and we needed to get two copies to the Department for Education by midday on Friday 10th October, together with several spreadsheets. In addition we needed to email the documents to the DfE. Just printing and packaging the documents took several hours as we don’t have a commercial printer! It was such a relief when we handed it over at the post office for guaranteed next day delivery.
Looking back, it’s been an exciting journey with setbacks of course, but looking at our application now we can see the very real progress that we’ve made. And the support of people – whether parents who have registered interest for their children, ‘liked’ us on Facebook or just said encouraging things – or the professionals who are giving their time and expertise voluntarily – is just inspiring.
So please continue to spread the word to people you know, and get them to register interest. The more names we have registered, the more likely we are to be approved by the DfE!